The primary reason for organising Universities Week is to demonstrate the wider benefits that our universities bring to the country – covering issues that quite often go completely unnoticed by the mainstream media and the general public.
One of those issues is the integral role that universities have played in the preparation for London 2012, and this year’s campaign has left us with a rich picture of what our universities have done to support ‘the greatest show on earth’.
As we enter the final stages of Universities Week 2012, it has been great to see the incredible number of university activities unfold. More than 100 events have taken place around the week, the vast majority of which have been organised by universities up and down the country.
We have also launched two reports that flesh out the ways in which individual universities have engaged with London 2012, the Olympic and Paralympic Games of the past, and the sports industry as a whole.
The reports cover a wide range of issues including: the research underpinning the success of Team GB’s performance; the efforts by universities to increase sport participation in local schools and the local community; the range of Cultural Olympiad activities already underway; and the long-lasting links forged between university towns and countries from across the globe, whose Olympic and Paralympic teams will have access to the world-class training facilities and accommodation that those universities have to offer.
We have also seen a hugely impressive list of supporters back our universities this year, as has been demonstrated by a series of ‘Talking Heads’ videos.
There are many other high-profile figures backing the campaign too, including Olympic champions Rebecca Adlington and Christine Ohuruogu. And it just goes to show the high regard with which people across the country hold our universities – and not always those who have attended university themselves, but have had access to our universities’ world-class facilities and academics.
The stories behind the Talking Heads videos and the two reports will continue beyond Universities Week 2012. And as we approach the London 2012 Games we hope to be able use these fantastically rich and diverse examples to demonstrate just how much universities have been contributing to the Games, and also the long-term impact of hosting the Games in the UK.
Universities Week 2012 is far from over though. This Bank Holiday weekend will see British Universities & Colleges (BUCS) host the BUCS VISA Outdoor Athletics Championships at the Olympic stadium itself. And on the Saturday night (5 May) more than 40,000 people will witness the ‘2012 Hours to Go’ (until London 2012) event, which will see the stadium officially opened by a member of the audience. Excitingly, one student will also get the chance to commentate on an event as part of the Universities Week ‘Become the commentator’ competition, which we ran in partnership with the National Union of Students (NUS).