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  • Writer's pictureDavid Thibodeau

Sport and University

The cost of university tuition is on the rise in Canada, rising 40% in a decade (2006-2016). The rise in tuition is not unique to Canada, in the United States tuition is rising just as quickly, rising twice as quickly as inflation rates since 1985. European countries have a variety of post-secondary tuition schemes based on if you are a EU resident or not, but on a whole, tuition in European countries is much lower than in North America.

Athletic scholarships in Canada has also risen dramatically since the turn of the century, rising from $6 million in total in 2003/04 to almost $16 million in 2013/14. Sport can help make university more attainable for many through scholarships, bursaries and grants. Many students across Canada are benefitting from athletic scholarships, making university more affordable for them.

Universities in Canada are governed by the USport Policy 50 on Financial Awards. It outlines how many awards may be given out to individuals on sports and the requirements for keeping the awards throughout the student-athletes academic career. Athletic scholarships in Canada cannot exceed the value of tuition and compulsory fees of the student-athlete.

There are additional scholarships, bursaries and grants available for student-athletes outside of university administered scholarships. Private organisations like the Fredericton Sport Investment Inc, offer an entrance scholarship to athletes. Some universities, like the University of New Brunswick, offer a small monetary prize to all student-athletes who achieved at least a 3.5 assessment grade point average. Some National Sport Organisations, like Swimming Canada, offer an award to several swimmers a year to aid in their future studies.

There is a lot of support for student-athletes in Canada. While for many athletes it will not cover the entire tuition, or even most of it, these scholarships make higher education more accessible for some. Of course, sports are very expensive in the first place and those who are able to participate in competitive sports to be able to access sport scholarships at university may not be the ones who need it the most. There are also a lot of sports that do not have scholarships available.

The Canadian government and provincial governments offer students financial aid, allowing students to pay for university and college. Perhaps a policy idea is the government can start offering scholarships, bursaries and grants to students based on their participation in a sport to attend university (or participation in other extracurriculars like sciences, arts etc). Higher education should be a priority for citizens and for the government to help citizens achieve. By switching to this model more people could be enticed to participate in sports, and get all the benefits from that as well as an education. There could be more value in participating in sports if we offer a monetary value later on to help cover the costs of university.

An added benefit of this is that we can keep more people in sport after they graduate from university. I know many people who stopped participating in sport after high school. By offering more bursaries for sport and people studying sport we can increasing the benefit of sport and recreation in our society.

We can use sport in education policy to help people attend university in certain instances. Sport can have a social impact by helping make university more accessible.


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