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    Interpreting university sport policy in England: seeking a purpose in turbulent times?

    Brunton, JA and Mackintosh, CI (2017) Interpreting university sport policy in England: seeking a purpose in turbulent times? International Journal of Sport Policy and Politics, 9 (3). pp. 377-395. ISSN 1940-6940


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    © 2017 Informa UK Limited, trading as Taylor & Francis Group. Given the fundamental change in political landscape of current higher education in England, it is timely to (re)consider the purpose of university sport and its fit with national sports policy. This research investigates the purpose of university sport; how university sport fits with national sport strategies,if at all; and whether universities and sport policy are capitalising on Higher Education (HE) sport. An interpretivistic public policy analysis was carried out using eight semi-structured interviews with senior leaders of sport within universities in one region of the north of England. In addition, documentary analysis was examined. Outcomes illustrate the changed landscape for university sport in England with the key purpose of sport focusing on wider student experience; to engage students in sport and contribute to enhancing student recruitment, retention, satisfaction, mental health and graduate employability. However, there were mixed views as to whether senior university leaders were fully aware of the extent of the role of sport. Strategic drivers were more internal than external although universities recognised the value of working in a symbiotic relationship with internal and external stakeholders. Recommendations are offered for university leaders and sport policy makers on how to better capitalise on sport in England and beyond.

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