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The UK is home to over a 105 Universities whom currently offer a wide array of courses and teaching facilities to accommodate to the requirements of their students. But with the increase fee in course admission and growing pressure within the job market, what exactly sets these Universities apart when looking at the best UK sports Universities going into 2019.

In this article we will be examining all the key element/criteria’s that should be taken into consideration when choosing a university that not only offers variety in sports related courses, but far beyond this. Their facilities, number of sports related scholarships, sport societies and much more.

There is a lot to think about when comparing sporting universities, but luckily enough we have done the hard work for you and created an in depth list of the best sporting universities in the UK for you to compare and contrast!

Lets jump right in….

Loughborough University

There is something quite patriotic about Loughborough University, as you emerge into the state of the art single site campus stretching across 440 acres of land, you are readily reminded of the Universities past and present achievements from its draping pole flags, it is a subtle or not so subtle reminder of what it takes to be part of its history, which traces back to 1909.

Loughborough University is situated in the northern-most part of the county of Leicestershire which hypothetically puts it at the heart of England. Within the campus, you can find one of the best sport university for facilities in the UK. This includes a 50m Olympic swimming pool with international standard diving blocks, timing systems and scoreboard. A stadium exclusive to the university which is primarily a football complex, but is capable of accommodating to all field based activities and has played host to UEFA European under 17 championships, BUCS Super Rugby Showcase games and many other high profile events. Within the single site campus you can also expect to find:

  • Cricket Centre-Sir John Ferguson National Cricket Performance Centre
  • Athletics Centre– Paula Radcliffe Athletics Track
  • GYM– Powerbase which is one of the UK’s largest strength and conditioning gyms
  • Artificial Pitches- Hockey Water-based, Rugby Rubber Crumb, EHB Pitch
  • Squash and Table Tennis- 5 Squash courts
  • Tennis- 8 outdoor acrylic courts and many more facilities to quench you sporting needs.

For this reason, Loughborough has become one of the best universities for sporting facilities in the UK. Additionally, it has has expansive open space, gardens and sports areas integrated within its academic buildings and accommodation, but it doesn’t just stop there. In the upcoming years Loughborough University will be investing £130 million in sporting facilities to further cement its place as one of the bests sports Universities in the UK.

So what sports related courses can I study at Loughborough?

Loughborough University currently ranks 5th overall in the UK for the study of Sports science by The complete University guide, and 1st overall for sports related courses by QS world rankings. Additionally to sports science, the following disciplines can also be undertaken as separate courses, these include:

As a student studying a sports related course at Loughborough, expect to have access to cutting edge testing equipment, the latest physiological, molecular and environmental technologies, climate chambers, and 27 laboratories worth £8 million.

Student athletes at Loughborough

There are currently 55 student led sports clubs at Loughborough University that compete in the BUCS championship each year, and you can be part of the universities success story.

Loughborough has a selection of traditional sports teams that all students can trial for in hopes of competing within the British Universities and College Sports (BUCS).These include football, rugby, rowing, various athletic teams and water based sports. Further to this, you can expect to see less traditional sports at Loughborough, such as American football, Futsal, and cheerleading.

The interdisciplinary action between teams and practitioners can’t be faulted, there is just a sense of respect and appreciation for anyone who is wearing sports kit on campus”. ( kelsie Johnson, former Netball player at Loughborough)

In the 2017-2018 season, Loughborough University led in total number of points and finished top of the table with an impressive 6230.7 won across all competing BUCS teams. Just one of the many reasons to why Loughborough makes our list for best sport universities in the UK and the world.

Durham University

The city of Durham is an abyss of masterfully crafted architecture that sits in Northeast England, south of Newcastle upon Tyne. Constructed between 1093 and 1133, Durham Cathedral is simply breath-taking with a Romanesque touch. For many, moving to Durham on the sole purpose of being residents of a city that offers picturesque scenery and a river that stretches through the body of the city is enough conviction to stay permanently, but at the heart of the city you will find a University beaming with life, Durham University is simply remarkable.

Durham University is a collegiate public research University founded in 1832 and granted royal charter in 1837. It is home to over 17,000 students each year and plays a pivotal role in attracting over 231,270 visitors to its multiple attractions, which include a 10 hectare Botanic Garden on the southern outskirts of the city, Durham Castle at the heart of the world Heritage site, the oriental museum, the museum of archaeology, and many more attractions directly linked to the University.

When it comes to sports, Durham University held over 13 titles across multiple sports in the acclaimed BUCS championship finals held in Nottingham 2018. But it is important to note that the Universities success doesn’t come down simply having great students.  Durham University success can be accredited to the professionally led coaching across its 11 teams which include but not limited to Basketball (Men’s & Women’s), Cricket (Men’s & Women’s), Fencing (Men’s & Women’s).

Furthermore, Durham has additional, expert coaches across 15 sports, which is a testament to their efforts in “enabling exceptional people to do exceptional things”.

Durham is renowned for being one of the best universities for sporting facilities in the UK, which has helped to enhance it’s British rowing, first class county Cricket, Lacrosse, and British fencing centre status’ respectively.

This top sporting university has a variety of sport complexes to accommodate to its diverse sporting community. The Graham Sports Centre encompasses a fitness suite, athletics track, squash courts and a mixture of field turf facilities for hockey and rugby teams. Additionally to this, as part of a student studying a sports related course at Durham University, you have access:

  • Fencing Salle

The fencing Salle is a world-class standard facility which is the only one in the country, in the facility you will find four competition and four practise dedicated fencing pistes and wheelchair fencing frames..

  • Rowing Tank

The new £1m powered indoor rowing tank is one of only three in the UK and the first in the North of England.

Moreover, students now have access to further developments made by the University which include.

  • an extended sports hall allowing for increased indoor cricket provision with a variety of practice surfaces and a range of bowling machines;
  • a performance analysis suite so athletes can monitor and improve their technique;
  • three dedicated physiotherapy treatment rooms;
  • a multi-purpose dance studio and x-bike training room;
  • a rowing ‘Ergo’ gallery housing 28 stations – each is used to simulate the action of watercraft rowing for the purpose of exercise or training.

What Sports related courses can you study at Durham?

One of the reasons Durham features very highly on our list of best sport universities, is In 2015, the university ranked 1st for their multi-disciplinary BA (Hons) sport, Exercise and Physical activity (SEPA) degree by the “The complete University Guide, and has not ranked lower than 6th ever since 2013. Students of social sciences at Durham have the opportunity to be part of “team Durham” who are involved in high performance, college and community sport programmes.

As it currently stands, Durham University offers the following sports related courses:

Student athletes at Durham University

There are currently over 50 different sports teams and societies that students at Durham can be involved with, from traditional water based sports such as rowing and water polo, to less traditional sports such as ultimate Frisbee and mountaineering. The variety of great sporting related degrees coupled with the vast number of opportunities to get involved with clubs and events is almost unparalled and why Durham has made our recommend list for best sport universities.

Student Athletes at Durham University do more than just participate in sports; they immerse themselves within the local community, helping young people develop a passion for sports, health and fitness.

A role model amongst her peers, Sophie Szyszko was recognised for her outstanding efforts whilst volunteering and won a national award for her outstanding work. Sophie Szyszko plays Volleyball for the England national team and captained Durham’s team during her time as a student at the University,

Durham is an all-encompassing university for students wanting to combine their academics with their sporting careers. This is evident when looking at the universities accomplishments in both their sporting efforts and academic successes.

Scholarships at Durham University

Durham University offer scholarships to both undergraduate (UK students) and post graduate (international students), they value the importance of attracting exceptional sportsmen and women. They have introduced two new scholarships types, the Weldon-le Huray Scholarships and the Palatinate Scholarships for Sport. Durham recognise the potential and positive impact students from neighbourhoods with low overall progression to higher education can have, therefore aim to give all applicants an opportunity through to University.

University of Edinburgh

Founded in 1582, the University of Edinburgh is the sixth oldest University in the English speaking world and one of Scotland’s ancient Universities. Located in central eastern Scotland, near the firth of forth, close to the North Sea, Edinburgh is the capital of Scotland and a city thriving with life. The University itself attracts approximately 60,000 applicants each year and is the second most popular University by volume in the UK.

The University of Edinburgh shares the prestigious honour of being a Russell group University, which prides itself on maintaining the best research standards, as well as linking with businesses to ensure graduates produce exceptional work once they leave. Not many academic establishments can rival Edinburgh for the avenues they provide to graduates post course to finding employment, one of the many reasons Edinburgh features on our best sport universities list.

Combining historic traditions, with a contemporary approach towards the student experience, the University of Edinburgh ranked third in the British University and Colleges Sports championship, competing against 144 higher education establishments in the UK.


Edinburgh offers advanced technology across its multiple facilities accommodating to the development of its student athletes. The state of the art centre for sports in the Pleasance is accredited to training some of the world’s most outstanding athletes, including the All-Blacks.


The complex houses two multi-purpose sports halls which accommodates to a diverse range of indoor sports including basketball, indoor football and other indoor based sports. Within the complex, you will also find a number of sports specific areas which include dance studios, martial arts areas, archery and riffle ranges, climbing and bouldering walls to accommodate to a diverse taste.

Additional to this, the Pleasance houses has:

This is only a glimpse of the facilities to be found within the Pleasance complex, which is why Edinburgh is one of the best universities for sporting facilities in the UK. The place is a maze of gym equipment for both professional and intermediate sports enthusiasts.

What sports courses can you study at The University of Edinburgh?

Edinburgh is one of the best universities for sports science and is one of the top courses at the University as whole. Sir Chris Hoy who studied the course at the university and later went on to win 7 Olympic Medals is now a hall of famer within the university and recognised worldwide.

There is an expansive list of degree subjects you can look to study, no matter what course you choose, the university is always pushing for students to be involved in sports at all levels.

Student athletes at The University of Edinburgh

The University of Edinburgh, under the universities sports union offer 64 different sports clubs that students can look to be part of. It is one of the only Universities to offer such a broad variety of sports to its students, with more than 30 of sports forming part of the performance programme, benefiting from world class professional coaching and support.

Here is what one of the students Eilidh Gibson, a former canoeing athlete at Edinburgh had to say about competing for the University at the highest level of competition.

Scholarships at the University of Edinburgh

The University of Edinburgh sporting scholarships are one of the UK’s finest scholarship programmes. Accessible to all students who are going into their undergraduate or postgraduate degree programme at University. Athletes are expected to be performing at a top level within their respective sports. Further to this, once an athlete has been granted a sporting scholarship, it is compulsory for each individual to represent the University within their sport at the Bucs championship, or a sport of their choosing.  There scholarship programme is second to none and is why they are one of the best sport universities in the world.

Some of the better known scholarships are as follows.

The University of Bath

Situated in southwest England and approximately a 100 miles west of the capital, Bath is a cosy visitor friendly city belonging to the county of Somerset. Quite unique in its name and for what it can offer, the city of Bath is one of the only cities within in the UK where you can still find thermally heated waters, not to mention its beautifully constructed Georgian architecture. The city itself is breath-taking, but the University is even better.

The University of Bath received Royal Charter in 1966 and spent little to no time working towards establishing itself as a leading University for research and teaching excellence. Amongst 1000 universities in 2019, the University of Bath ranked 158 by the QS world University rankings, 6th overall in The Guardian University Guide 2019, and in 2017 won the Teaching Excellence Framework (TEF). The University’s main campus is located in Claverton Down, on the edge of the city was named The Times and Sunday Times Best Campus University of 2014, and for good reasoning too. Claverton Down campus encompasses a variety of top university sporting facilities for all your requirements.

The £30 million Sports Training Village (STV) on campus is a testament to how the university prides itself on being a top destination for student athletes, making it worthy finalists on our best sport universities list.

Within this complex, you can expect to find:

So what sports related courses can I study in the University of Bath?

The University of Bath has heavily invested itself in providing the best sport degrees in the Country. It is one of the only universities within the UK to provide such a dynamic experience in academics and sports. Bath University currently offers the following degrees in sports and exercise science:

Student athletes at the University of Bath

The University of Bath currently offers over 50 different student led sports and activities, accessible to students attending the University.  These sports include:

One of the main reasons the University of Bath makes our best sporting universities list, is that it has housed over 250 international level athletes who have competed in the Olympics or major international competitions, with 20 regional and national squads also having benefited from the universities astonishing STV complex.

Some of the household names include Amy Williams and Lizzy Yarnold (skeleton); Paul Blake, Jason Gardener, Dai Greene, Colin Jackson and Sophie Kamlish (athletics); Samantha Murray and Mhairi Spence (modern pentathlon); Siobhan-Marie O’Connor, Jazz Carlin, James Guy and Chris Walker-Hebborn (swimming); and Eboni Beckford-Chambers and Kadeen Corbin (netball).

Scholarships at Bath University

When it comes to sporting scholarships, the University Of Bath was a pioneer in its efforts to help students combine academics with sports, and today the University currently offers over 36 scholarships annually.

The University has several different scholarships with different eligibility requirements to accommodate to different students and their specific needs, some of these include:

Learn about well-paying fitness positions if you’re interested in a career in the fitness industry.

University of Birmingham

Multicultural, diverse and cosmopolitan, those are just a few of the words that best describes the city of Birmingham, and its University is nothing short of that. The University of Birmingham is rich in diversity and multiculturalism, and this extends onto its surrounding areas filled with restaurants, shops, cultural centres and places of worship.

The University of Birmingham (Informally Birmingham University) was founded in 1825 and received royal charter in 1900 as a successor to Queen’s College, like others of its kind, Birmingham University is a public research University and is located in the suburban area of central Birmingham, boarded by Moseley to the south east and by Smethwick and Winson Green to the north west.  The university has received multiple awards in recognition of its outstanding efforts to produce some of the UK’s top graduates, and in 2014 it was named the University of the Year in the times Higher Education awards, the University also ranks 79th in the  QS world University rankings for 2019.

Birmingham features on our best sport universities list as sports is centre stage at the University.  It is no surprise that the fastest people in the world team Jamaica chose the Universities complexes to train for the London Olympics, including Usain Bolt and Johan Blake. Both athletes went on to perform exceptionally well within the London Olympics and were later quoted as saying, Birmingham was their best pre-Olympic training base to date. That’s not a bad endorsement to have!

The University of Birmingham is unique for what it is capable of providing for its student athletes. It provides an unrivalled fitness experience, with highly qualified fitness professionals on hand to provide support, advice and expertise.  The £55 million sports complex located in Edgbaston is home to:

So what sports related courses can you study at Birmingham?

The University of Birmingham was ranked 5th best university in 2018 for sports related courses and 1stin 2019 by the complete University Guide for its physiotherapy course. The university gives students the opportunity to effectively combine theory and practise within their multiple sports:

Birmingham is without question one of the best sport universities in England and offers a unique degree through its applied golf management course. The course gives you the chance to combine high-level applied theory with membership of the professional Golfers Association (PGA), making it one of a kind.

Student athletes at the University of Birmingham

Just like its student, the University of Birmingham offers a diverse mixture of sports that students can get involved in, and one of the standout team sports the university provides is American football. The Birmingham Lions are one the most successful University teams having won the national championship in 2013 and having been runners up in 2014, but what is really interesting about the Universities American football team is its annual opening fixture which attracts over 3500 spectators. Xplosion is the biggest University sporting event outside of the Oxbridge boat race, it offers something different away from traditional sports with food, drinks and performances from the Universities own cheerleading squad the Pussycat cheerleaders.  Away from American football, the University makes our best sport universities list as it has over 50 different sports societies students can look to participate in, both in traditional and untraditional sports.

As a student athlete at the University of Birmingham, you will have access to more than just great facilities, the university also provides:

Scholarships at the University of Birmingham

The University of Birmingham currently offers 125 individual student scholarships each year, this is to aid top performing student athletes to effectively balance their academics and maintain their pursuit and passion for sports as dual career athletes. This innovative and unique approach to their scholarship programmes makes Birmingham one of the best sporting universities in the World.  There are 8 individual scholarship programmes available to students at the university, which include:

The University Of Exeter

The University of Exeter is located in the southwest of the UK, and divided by two main campuses located in two different locations, Exeter and Cornwall. Both campuses in the two separate locations offer beautiful scenery within alluring communities, and it doesn’t stop there. The University received Royal Charter in 1955, and within that time has racked up a number of awards by multiple accredited organisations which recognise it as one of the top Universities in the Europe.

The University was the Times and The Sunday Times Good University guide 2019 best University in the southwest, and the 12th best within the UK. The awards for recognition for Exeter are extensive, as well as receiving TEF GOLD award for teaching excellence, students nationally also recognise the Universities exceptional work. In both 2015 and 2017, the University was awarded winner at the What Uni? Student Choice awards, moreover the university has also been awarded with:

The university works hard to create the ultimate student experience, and its sporting department works just as hard. Exeter is renowned for having one of the best universities facilities for sport and dedicates itself to accommodating the needs of student athletes who are looking to take their careers to the next level. In the past decade, the university has spent over £20 million in creating an environment tailored for high quality coaching and development of sports, and its facilities are a testament to that. Within its multiple complexes which offer variety, you will find:

  • Russell Seal Fitness Centre (Sports Park)

The Russell Seal Fitness Centre is a 6.5 million fitness complex which offers 200 stations and uses the latest technological innovations to maximise workouts at all levels.

  • St Luke’s fitness suite

St Luke’s fitness offers a more personal training environment with 30 stations which benefited from a £50,000 to provide the very best fitness cardio, resistance weights and free weights equipment.

Furthermore there is also an:

So what sports related courses can I study?

The Sport and Health department of Exeter University is nationally recognised for providing depth and breadth of knowledge to understanding elite performance within sports, so much so that it currently ranks 1st for the study of sports science by both The Complete University Guide 2019 and The Times and Sunday Times Good University Guide 2019. This is why Exeter is commonly regarded as the best university for sport sconce in the UK and acquires students from all across the globe.

But what really makes the University of Exeter stand out from other Universities is the variety in sports related courses offered by the university, currently students can choose to study:

To create a fitting environment, all sports related courses are studied at the historic St Luke’s Campus. This is to provide an eco-friendly campus, which hosts world class research facilities and purpose built laboratories.

Student athletes at the University of Exeter

The University doesn’t come up short in the variety of sports available for participation. Currently, Exeter has over 52 sports that are student led and supported by the University, and 9 performance based sports which include women’s and men’s rugby, sailing and tennis.

The University’s performance programme has a reputation for enhancing the abilities of its student athletes who go on to be some of the best sports men and women in the Country. Exeter has witnessed many recent successes within its performance based sports, students from the golf team saw 9 of their competing athletes finish in the top 3 in the BUCS student tour and 4 men and 3 women qualifying for the Tour finals.

Elite Tennis player Athena Nathalia had an impressive campaign in 2017-18 and finished the season unbeaten in league cups matches, aiding the women’s 1st team to a notable 4th place in the BUCS national league.

Performance Burser Athena Nathalia finished the 2017-2018 BUCS season unbeaten in league and cups matches, assisting the women’s 1st team to a fantastic 4th place in the BUCS National League. As a result of her efforts she was crowned number 1 on the British Universities Leaderboard. Athena felt it was a highly competitive year.

Scholarships at the University of Exeter

The university of Exeter Sports Scholarship scheme offers up to 50 scholarships and a number of individual supported performance based bursaries annually. Sport scholarships are awarded to student athletes who have demonstrated elite performance at a national or international level, and although scholars are primarily students who are competing in the Universities performance sports, it is widely open to all student athletes who demonstrate potential. This is just many of the contributing factors to why Exeter is a great place to study sport and why its features on our best sporting university list.

“Having had a sports scholarship for the 2017-18 academic year enabled me to train and perform consistently and effectively in both, my studies and chosen sport. I strongly believe that the scholarship and support system I’ve received has made a positive impact on the current success I’ve had this year” Lagilagi Tuima BSc Exercise and Sport Sciences.

Sport Performance Bursary are however open to student athletes who are at international level for their respective sports and can compete in BUCS competition for the University.

Leeds Beckett University

Formerly known as Leeds Metropolitan University and before that as Leeds Polytechnic, Leeds Beckett University gained University status in 1992 and adopted its current name in 2014. Home to 24,000 students annually, the university is situated within the Northern Powerhouse city of Leeds, which is the biggest financial district in the UK outside of the city of London. The city itself is home to a number of city parks, shopping arcades and some of the biggest festivals and music events globally. The countryside offers the perfect combination of picturesque landscapes, with the inner city offering a much more modern and vibrant student life.

.At the heart of Leeds, you will find the city campus which is placed just on the footsteps of multiple businesses that offers great employment to the students. In contrast, only 3 miles away from the city campus you find yourself at Headingly Campus. Headingly campus is a modern complex tailored for sports science, it has laboratories, animation and music studios and the latest computing labs, and its sport complex is certainly not limited.  Leeds Beckett University offers its student the complete sporting experience with its multiple facilities situated  in both city campus and the Headingly Campus making it one of the best sport universities in the UK.

So what sports related courses can you study at Leeds Beckett? 

At both the undergraduate and postgraduate level, Leeds Beckett provides an exhaustive number of sports related courses readily available to all students from all disciplines. With 13 undergraduate, and 29 postgraduate courses available, the university is undoubtedly one of the best sporting universities within the UK for providing variety in sports related studies. Some of the courses at the University include:

Whether it’s in the classroom, or within their respective sports, the University is fully committed to providing a unique experience for all its students. In addition to being known as one of the best universities for sport science and sport coaching (UK), the Universities distinctive sport marketing course attracts thousands of graduates each year.


Student athletes at Leeds Beckett


There are currently 40 Athletic Union Clubs with more than 80 teams with sports including Rugby, Netball, Hockey, and Gymnastics. On the other hand, if you prefer something different and less mainstream, Leeds Beckett offer a number fast growing sports such as American football, surfing and Tchoukball.


Tchoukball is a sport which originated in Switzerland and was created to reduce the number of injuries within sports. The sport is a non-contact, mixed gender sport played with 7 active members on the court. The sport shares similarities to sports such as basketball, netball and handball, but really differentiates itself from all sports in how points can be scored. By shooting at a frame similar to a trampoline, points are defined by where the ball lands following a shot at the frame.


Scholarships at Leeds Beckett


One of the main reasons Leeds Beckett features on our best sport universities list is for its fantastic scholarship programme. They began their sports scholarship programme in 2002 and have continuously worked to expand it ever since. Some of the student athletes that have benefited from the scholarship scheme include James Denny (Diving) who won silver in the 2010 commonwealth games, Laura Weightman (Athletics) 2014 Commonwealth Silver medallist and European Bronze medallist and 2012 Olympic 1500m finalist, and Ali Jawad (Paralympic Weightlifting) Bench Press World Record holder.

So there you have it, a complete guide to the best sports Universities moving in 2019, from athletes to competing at national and international level, to students who just want to stay fit whilst at university and take advantage of the social benefits that comes with playing sports.

There are however, many more universities which have helped mould and shape the futures of some of the UK’s most phenomenal athletes, some of these include the likes of the University of Nottingham, The University of Oxford, and The University of Northumbria, but what university do you think should be included within this article? Give us a shout on Twitter or Facebook to let us know! 

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About the Author: Hannah Oxborough

Hannah is qualified in Exercise to Music and is passionate about fitness and discovering alternative ways to make exercise as fun as possible. She enjoys aerobics and Zumba classes, and taking part in obstacle mud runs for charity. In her spare time she loves reading, practicing her Spanish and walking her miniature schnauzer, Stella.

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