Sunday, 25 March 2012

Survey Suspense

York Sport is facing crunch time as everyone is set to discover exactly how good the university’s sports facilities are compared to our rivals across the country.

Earlier this month, four hundred surveys were sent off by the university as part of a new pilot partnership which aims to scrutinise university sports facilities in more detail than ever before. The partnership combines the expertise of NBS (National Benchmarking Service) and Quest, the UK Quality Scheme for Sport and Leisure, who are casting their eyes over fifteen universities nationwide.

Head of Sports, Keith Morris, said: “I thank everybody who took part in the survey because it was a phenomenal effort and will be really valuable information. It will enable us to compare ourselves with our competitors in the BUCS leagues more easily and will give us a good foundation of knowledge from which we can move forward.”

Dan Turley has his doubts over York's
current sports facilities
(Photo: Vivan Jayant)

Morris handed me a copy of the survey, comprising twenty questions, and I soon realised it was incredibly detailed. It starts by asking what type of activity one pursued and how regularly, whether one is a member of the facility or a sports club and even the method of transport to the facility.

The main bulk of the survey, however, is concerned with analysing the crucial gap between how satisfied users are with the facilities compared to how important they would rate them in an ideal world. Aspects of this include the accessibility of the centre, the quality of services and staff, its cleanliness and value for money. It concludes by examining the user themselves; their age, gender, race and year of study.

In the past, the only surveys of university sports facilities have come from BUCS or Sport England who helped compile the satisfaction information in the Complete University Guide. However, as you may have guessed, the present efforts will go much further than this.

I talked to a couple of players to see how well they thought York would do. Football 1sts captain Dan Turley said the university was strong in some areas but very weak in others: “Our gym is very poor – some weights are missing and they only go up to 37.5 kg so it doesn’t appeal enough to football or rugby players. But most of our facilities aren’t that bad; in terms of the football pitches and the pavilion, we are up there with the likes of Leeds Met.”

With the new sports centre opening in July, rugby 1sts captain James Faktor  said the university has taken the right approach to improve its facilities: “I personally think the old facilities are quite average to be honest. There’s not too much room in the gym and most hours it gets quite crammed.”
The York Sport Village is in the final stages of construction
(Photo: Dave Hughes)

The obvious disadvantage with the survey being taken now is that the results will soon be out of date. But students at York won’t be complaining. The centre, which is currently in the final stage of construction, will be among the very best available to any university in the UK according to Chris Carling, Head and Fitness Manager, who commented: “Leeds University are the only ones which will have comparable facilities, as well as maybe Lancaster and Sunderland.”

Nevertheless, if the pilot project is a success then I expect it to be conducted again in the future. By providing universities with more information on their student’s opinions, we are likely to see improvements in both facilities and the standard of BUCS matches nationwide.

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