Velouk Feature Sports Scholarship

With financial backing for the domestic and pro-tour scene being a regular topic of discussion, many riders are now looking to ensure they have a career outside sport to fall back on. Generally speaking, we are talking about gaining additional qualifications and relevant work experience to enhance employability. So, are there options to combine the two, that of being an athlete while also receiving a higher education?

In a nutshell…. yes.

Academic institutions are proud of their sporting heritage and see it as a means to enhance and cement their reputation within higher education. This has led to many universities investing in their sports scholarship schemes, giving opportunities to talented athletes, offering financial and other support at a Higher Education level. Certain universities are renowned for sport such as Loughborough, Bath, Nottingham and Leeds but it’s not just these that offer support to dedicated athletes. A great sporting reputation is high on the list for many modern universities too.

Being the Cycling Coach at the University of Central Lancashire (UCLan)(, it is evident how many universities are beginning to offer sports scholarships. UCLan currently offer some of the highest levels of support in the UK with a range of packages from Bronze to Gold, with the biggest level of support worth £7000 per year, £5000 in cash. This would cover a substantial sum towards the cost of being a student. You don’t necessarily need to be an international level rider as there are different levels of support depending on results and rankings. Check to see what is on offer with the eligibility criteria.

Scholarships are not just for those finishing their A-Levels either. Many mature students or ex-professionals looking at re-education are eligible. These could be for undergraduate degrees or those looking for post-graduate education such as Masters or PHd’s

So, what are the benefits to being a Sport Scholar?

One of the main reasons is the financial support can reduce the amount of debt and allow students to focus on their studies and sporting endeavors. Most students now will have to work a part-time job alongside their study, so a yearly payment of up to £5000 can go a long way.

Due to the level of investment there is likely to be access to elite level coaching and training facilities Most sites have strength and conditioning facilities specifically for their performance sports. There may be specialist services to aid performance with the likes of physiotherapy, sports therapy, nutritionists, biomechanists and other sports science support giving a performance advantage.
There is also a greater level of academic support, as dedicated athletes will have to juggle their studies, training and competition. This is likely to include enhanced access to tutoring, study halls, and academic advisors to help balance athletic and academic responsibilities.

One of the expectations is for scholars to compete in British Universities and Colleges Sport (BUCS). At BUCS events the atmosphere is usually relaxed and friendly, but the level of competition high. The level of exposure, although not at American levels, is increasing year by year and athletes can receive enhanced publicity to professional cycling teams and scouts, increasing their chances of pursuing a career in their chosen sport.
Most academic calendars are similar, meaning that the months from May – September will be free from study allowing students to focus fully on the summer and hopefully a full training and race calendar.

It really is a great time for those who compete in cycle sport and are wanting to study at University. There are more scholarships on offer today than ever before, so my advice would be to wherever you seek education, ask what level of support is on offer to athletes and how the application process works.

Steve Abbott Cycling Coach is a British Cycling L3 Coach, UCLan Cycling Coach, and Fitness Professional. If you would like to know more contact Steve on [email protected]