Choosing the right course is hard enough, but how do you know which institution best suits both academic and sporting needs? The answer can be found in a website launched in September by the English Institute of Sport, with backing from the Talented Athlete Scholarship Scheme and UK Sport. The site is designed for university and college applicants who are talented athletes - either qualifying for a TASS bursary or receiving lottery funding as part of the World Class Performance Plan.
The idea came from John Porteous, EIS National Education Officer and a former FE lecturer. "This site will be of real use to the 3,000-plus athletes on the World Class programme and TASS," he says. "But it also has a wider audience: anyone interested in continuing their love of sport with an academic course in further or higher education. It is also a means to get specialist sports colleges to promote their courses. There's also a link on the UCAS website that will help students get to us."
TASS national manager Guy Taylor is equally enthusiastic: "This new site is an excellent opportunity to provide the necessary information to athletes no matter where they are on their performance pathway. It's a 'one-stop-shop' for quality sport and education information."
Users can click on a sport and the area of England they want to study in and up comes a range of institutions, complete with information and essential contact details. They can also find where to access high-quality support services for their chosen sport at, or near to, academic institutions in any of nine regions. The site will show whether the college has a sports academy, special mentoring, or a scholarship scheme.
The site is still a work-in-progress and many more institutions and sports links need to be added. "We need to attract more FE colleges to provide information," says Porteous, who is upbeat about the future. "As the database grows, the site will become a valuable resource and an extremely useful tool for young athletes wanting to make informed choices about where to study so they can balance their sporting and academic ambitions."