According to its current guide, the University of Nottingham’s Department of Physical Recreation and Sport is committed to making sport and fitness related activities ‘more accessible and enjoyable for everyone.’ Why then does it cost so much money to use the university’s sports facilities?

The basic sports membership joining fee is £44 if you joined at central registration (a pound increase from last year’s price) and this rises to £46.50 after that day, putting pressure on students to pay at registration.

Once you have membership however, the charges don’t stop there. Entrance to the Sports Centre costs £1 (a 100% increase on last year’s price), swimming is £1.50 and tennis is £2.00 per hour (a 33% increase on last year). Whilst an artificial turf pitch costs £24 per hour and a visit to the fitness centre costs £3.50 at peak times.

Unlimited access to the sports facilities and the Fitness Centre costs students £285. A hundred pounds of that is for a season ticket to the sports facilities (that’s £20 more than last year) and the other £185 is for peak membership of the Fitness Centre. That’s still not all-inclusive though; you have to pay for the Swimming Pool as well as the artificial turf pitches and tennis courts, which incidentally are in less than perfect condition and double-up as netball courts so there’s constant confusion as to which line you’re aiming for.

Compare this to Bristol University students, who pay less to be a member of the sports facilities for three years! Bristol, who finished eleventh in the BUSA Team Championship last year, four places behind Nottingham, charge £260 for three-year membership, which works out at around £87 a year. This provides them with free access to all the sports facilities which are similar in quantity and variety to Nottingham’s – the only extra cost is the £5 gym induction. Bristol isn’t the only leading university offering more competitive rates; Warwick, Birmingham, Edinburgh and Northumbria all give students a better deal.

‘The Guide’ (that orange book you get at Freshers’ Fayre) calls Nottingham University Sports Membership ‘a bargain’. Are they joking? We are paying considerably more than students at other leading universities and we’re not even the only ones using the facilities. ‘Associate membership’ allows anyone with a formal affiliation to the university to use the Sports Centre at a higher membership rate, the general public can become members of the Fitness Centre and the facilities are open during vacations at a much higher price. If students aren’t the only patrons, why are we still paying so much?

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