A healthier happier York

Strategy for sport and active wellbeing

2023 - 2028

"Sport and physical activity has long played a key role in the lives of staff and students. It is so important for our general wellbeing. 

The University of York Strategy for Sport and Active Wellbeing establishes our commitment and vision to widen choice and grow participation, not only within our campus community but across the City, developing opportunities with partners, organisations and governing bodies.

The strategy unifies sport, wellbeing and sustainability across the University and our Student Unions. It provides a clear roadmap for our ambition to increase and diversify engagement, improve access, and enable everyone within our community to fulfil their potential - be it through sport, physical activity or wellbeing opportunities.

Clearly aligned with our strategic aims, to create an environment of opportunity and respect, the strategy will forge a sense of belonging and inclusion in all sporting and physical wellbeing activities, whatever an individual's circumstances, capabilities and aspirations."
Professor Charlie Jeffery, Vice-Chancellor and President of the University of York

Our public good mission

We provide opportunities that engage, support and inspire our University students, staff, alumni and the wider community of York to improve their all-round personal and mental health, through inclusive sport, physical and wellbeing activities.

Our vision

Our students, staff and local communities recognise and value the impact of physical and wellbeing activities on their quality-of-life. The opportunities and activities we offer are inclusive of all circumstances, capabilities and aspirations meaning we inspire our communities to regularly participate.

Our aims, actions and outcomes

Inspired by the University principles and our mission for public good, we will improve the health and wellbeing of our student, staff and wider community through the development and provision of a comprehensive and inclusive sport and active wellbeing offer. Five key aims will deliver our mission and our vision and will achieve the following outcomes.

The University of York has always placed its students, staff and local community at the centre of all it does, and this Strategy of Sport and Active wellbeing will provide clear guidance and a vision to engage a community, provide inclusive and wide ranging opportunities at a University and in the city. It is really important to give people every opportunity to flourish, to achieve their full potential and importantly to benefit from enhancing their mental and physical wellbeing."
Dame Kelly Holmes, double olympic champion and honorary graduate of the University of York

1. Healthy people and healthy societies

We enable students, staff and our local communities to improve their health and wellbeing, and fulfil their potential through our welcoming and inclusive sport and active wellbeing opportunities.

What we want to happen

1.1 Promote the opportunities for sport and active wellbeing to our students and staff and members of our local community, helping to establish the value and impact of such activities on their quality of life and personal wellbeing and ambitions.

1.2 Encourage and support students to provide lifelong memories, friendships and experiences through active participation in sports and wellbeing activities to help them grow as individuals and prepare them to be successful as a global citizen.

1.3 Establish and grow local, national and international partnerships with relevant organisations and governing bodies to raise the profile of the University and expand our influence on the sport and active wellbeing agenda.

How we will achieve this


  • Improve the physical and mental wellbeing of our student and staff community.
  • Work in collaboration across all areas of the University to promote the agenda for sport, and active wellbeing and include in local level strategies and planning.
  • Promote sport and active wellbeing across all student lifecycle communications including student recruitment, welcome materials, ongoing student campaigns, and alumni community communications and engagement.


  • Promote opportunities to participate within York Sport Union, University sport club, campus based College Sport and individual activity programmes.
  • Reflect the student, staff and wider stakeholder needs within ongoing planning directed through the Sports Working Group.
  • Present a coordinated and accessible offer for students and constantly consider the barriers to participation through the Student Life Committee and close liaison with the Students Unions.


  • Establish and grow local, national and international partnershps with relevant organisations to raise the profile of the University and expand our influence on the sport and active wellbeing agenda. 
  • Establish UoY representation on City of York, regional and national sport and health related bodies including National Governing Bodies, City of York, North Yorkshire Sport, BUCS and Sport England.

2. Inclusive and affordable

We offer an engaging, inclusive and affordable membership portfolio including individual, club, college, and student society opportunities, where membership encourages regular participation, enhances a sense of self-worth and engenders a lasting relationship with the University and the City of York.

What we want to happen

2.1 Support individuals and groups to meet their full sporting and active wellbeing potential by identifying and addressing barriers to activity which include demands on time, costs, facilities and information.

2.2 Develop and promote provision and support for those students who have the desire and the ability to participate in sport at the higher levels.

2.3 Engage with diverse communities, partner networks and stakeholders to support initiatives providing positive impact upon social integration, awareness, self-esteem, wellbeing, wellness and a positive University experience.

2.4 As a University for public good; recognise and promote the impact of sport and active wellbeing within an ‘active campus’ that focuses on providing widespread opportunities to engage to a more diverse cohort of students and staff.

How we will achieve this


  • Undertake an annual review (including the Active Lives survey) of all student and staff activity to identify levels of activity, wellness, motivations, barriers and challenges, and incentives to engage and participate in activities.


  • Promote our support for activity at all levels through our programmes and services that will prioritise participation level activity including an ability to support high performing students.
  • In partnership with OPPA establish and promote an individual sports scholarship scheme to support individual athletes to achieve at the highest levels.


  • Promote cross-campus engagement prioritising widening participation over performance seeking to deliver annually increasing levels of activity from more diverse participants based on representative benchmarks. 


  • Annual assessment of strategic delivery across campus will focus our priorities in the following order: student, staff, community activity.
  • Annual assessment of participation and engagement levels will inform plans for improvement leading to a demonstrable increase in levels of participation and engagement across all key student, staff and community stakeholder groups.

3. One Team, one York

We promote one simplified and comprehensive sport, physical activity and wellbeing offer that coordinates our wider University community’s expertise and facilities.

What we want to happen

3.1 Governance that is transparent, and all activities fall under the same policies, procedures and health and safety regulations to ensure quality, and establish a user-friendly easy to understand approach. Establish the University Sport Strategy Group and its stakeholder representatives making it responsible for leading the development and delivery of a comprehensive, clear and customer focused sports and active wellbeing portfolio offering widespread opportunities for participation.

3.2 Using the experience, expertise and organisational infrastructure and governance of York Sport and the York Sport Union as the coordinators of physical activity and student sport delivery to ensure quality and consistency, and to address all aspects of safeguarding and operational health and safety, whilst making the optimum use of available resources.

3.3 Ongoing assessment of sports and active wellbeing activities on offer to students, staff and the local community to avoid duplication of provision, maintain clarity of opportunities to participate, and ensure the correct health and safety protocols are followed.

3.4 One overall vision and strategy for sport, physical and wellbeing activities at York leading to a better user experience, and ensuring all processes and procedures are in place to create an offer that is delivered according to appropriate health and safety requirements.

How we will achieve this


Establish the governance and monitoring structure for the delivery of the sport and active wellbeing strategy including:

  • University Sport and Active Wellbeing Strategy Group to monitor and facilitate the implementation of this strategy.
  • University Sport and Active Wellbeing Working group taking responsibility for maintaining consistency, avoiding duplication and addressing all ongoing needs and aspects of safeguarding and operational health and safety. Student Life Committee to monitor consistency of the quality of provision and end user-experience.
  • Student Life Committee to monitor consistency of the quality of provision and end user-experience.
  • An annual review to the Sport Strategy Group by YSU, YS and HR will seek to ensure all have the staff and wider resources to fully support the demand of students and student clubs at all levels. 


  • The University of York Sport Strategy Group will be linked to University decision making processes by becoming a sub-committee of CESIS reporting through the Student Life Committee.
  • The University Sport Strategy and Sport Working groups will meet regularly to account for all activity and needs of student, staff and community stakeholders.
  • The Strategy Group will include an external community representative.


  • A list of all permitted activities on campus will be established and reviewed on an ongoing basis to ensure safeguarding and health and safety standards are met. This will also aid in preventing duplication of provision.
  • A policy and process will be established to enable consideration by the Sports Working group and agreement of all organised activity outside of what is permitted.
  • Standards of behaviour and appropriate use of facilities will be jointly promoted, considered by  and enforced by all Sport Strategy and Working Group stakeholders. Student and staff welfare will be protected on an ongoing basis with the use of UoY regulation 7.


  • Establish the University Sport Working group as having responsibility for maintaining consistency, avoiding duplication and addressing all ongoing needs and aspects of safeguarding and operational health and safety identified through stakeholder activity.
  • Continually assess our collective offer and impact  through an independently audited process appraising the way we work and what we deliver to understand our standards of health and safety, customer experience, and business processes.
"In order to provide opportunities and to encourage our University and wider community to be as active as possible, it is crucial that we developed an understanding of how this can be achieved. The Sport and Active Wellbeing strategy represents the collective views of our students, staff and community, and as 'One Team One York' we hope that we can achieve our strategic aim of providing sustainable platform to inspire activity and wellbeing."
Keith Morris, Head of Sport, University of York

4. Diversity and widening participation

We engage with diverse communities, and work with the right people and organisations to widen participation in our sport, physical activity and wellbeing opportunities. We understand and constantly address any accessibility barriers.

What we want to happen

4.1 Ensure our sports, physical and wellbeing activities reflect the needs and aspirations of diverse students, staff, and local community groups.

4.2 Encourage take up of sport and active wellbeing activities by more diverse groups of individuals, teams, student societies, friendship groups, and colleges.

4.3 Design and deliver sport and active wellbeing promotional campaigns for a diverse student, staff and wider community.

How we will achieve this


  • Student consultation and feedback will influence facility development and consideration throughout the design process to ensure facility development reflects need (Achieved annually through the Active lives survey).
  • Represent all stakeholder interests within a University Sports Strategy Group that oversees agreed University wide policy, manages risk and opportunity and acts as the source of governance and decision making for related delivery and development across campus.


  • Commission an external assessment of facilities with recommendations for other priority investment for critical needs, and from the findings of this;
  • Create a campus sport and active wellbeing facility plan that establishes the current and potential demand and use of campus spaces to ensure all future developments deliver our sport and active wellbeing aims and align to the University Integrated Infrastructure Plan (IIP).


  • All sporting and physical activities will be accessible to all students whether at an undergraduate or postgraduate level of study in order to reduce duplication of offer and facility oversubscription.
  • Promote and celebrate the value of sport and active wellbeing and experience in ways that are appealing to diverse student groups throughout the student life cycle.

5. Welcoming, inclusive and sustainable campus

We constantly invest in facilities to support a ‘Community without limits Campus’ that delivers high quality, desired, impactful, accessible, sustainable and environmentally friendly facilities, providing inclusive sport, physical and wellbeing activities for the University and local communities.

What we want to happen

5.1 Ensure  campus and infrastructure planning is developed to meet the needs of our University Community including investment in high quality, welcoming, inclusive,  accessible, safe, well maintained sport and active wellbeing facilities.

5.2 Ensure the sporting, physical and wellbeing provision at York is financially sustainable.

5.3 Our focus on environmental sustainability will seek to align all delivery, services and facility development to the University sustainability strategy and aims.

5.4 Invest in the delivery of the highest standard of service and support.

How we will achieve this


  • External professionals will assess conditions of our existing facilities and all designated sport and open spaces to identify opportunities and priorities for investment to enable us to address critical needs.
  • Create a campus sport and active wellbeing facility plan that establishes the current and potential demand and use of campus spaces and facilities to ensure all future developments deliver our sport and active wellbeing aims and align to the University Integrated Infrastructure Plan (IIP). 
  • Initially, campus sport facility developments will prioritise artificial pitch provision, flat floor activity space, well draining grass sports fields and use of open and water spaces across campus.


  • Annual assessment will review demand, usage and income levels to assess the environmental, commercial, and financial sustainability of our strategy that meets the institutional need. 
  • Campus wide levels of activity and the campus wide impact of our delivery in addition to income will be reviewed through an annual Active Lives Survey to be reviewed by the Sport Strategy group and reported to Student Experience committee.
  • Parameters for the prioritisation of student, staff and community access will be established annually by York Sport in consultation with YUSU and consideration of student group demand and operational need.


  • Environmental considerations will be placed at the forefront of our day-to-day facility operations and capital facility investment to positively contribute to University aims of net zero carbon emissions.


  • Develop new ways of working, develop our service delivery, and coordinate effective, efficient digital and business processes that are structured to enhance the way we run our sports and leisure facilities. 
  • Invest in training, development and recruitment of staff with a commitment to deliver quality.
  • Invest and develop technology and IT systems that will increase customer satisfaction and impact business development and efficiency.

"Building on the work of many previous York Sport Union Presidents, I am delighted that we are able to launch the new University of York Strategy of Sport and Active Wellbeing. This marks an important milestone in the development of sporting and active opportunities at the university.

With a focus on inclusivity and widening participation, the strategy creates a foundation from which our future delivery of physical activity can be informed, with a collaborative and aligned approach across all areas of the university.

I’m very excited for the positive impacts this will have on all our students for many years to come."
Francesca Riley, York Sport Union President