University kicks off new education partnership with Rangers

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Ross Ireland, Andrew Smyth and Harry Sutherland photographed in their Rangers uniform.
Ross Ireland, Andrew Smyth and Harry Sutherland are working as analysts with Rangers

Sports students at the University of Stirling are joining the backroom staff of Rangers Football Club thanks to a unique partnership.

In the first collaboration of its kind in Scotland, Stirling has partnered with the Scottish Premiership football team on its MPhil Performance Analysis course, to give students the opportunity to become fully embedded in Rangers’ coaching staff and gain invaluable experience in a professional sporting environment.

The unique partnership has been forged by Dr David Stevenson, a lecturer in Sport Management at the University of Stirling.

He said: “The collaboration is about giving students hands-on work experience in high-performance sport, as well as promoting the opportunities available in Scotland and retaining talent in the region.

“Students will be working alongside Rangers’ first teams and their youth development programmes, applying their academic knowledge to support the performance analysis staff and will also work on an individual research project. 

“There’s no doubt that being amongst a set up like Rangers offers an unparalleled learning experience and will set our students up for successful careers in the world of sport.”

The formal partnership with the one-year Masters programme follows a work placement initiative in which 10 undergraduate students from Stirling took part in last year.

David Stevenson is interviewed by Rangers TV on campus Dr David Stevenson being interviewed on campus by Rangers TV

Zeb Jacobs, Academy Director at Rangers Football Club, said: “I am immensely proud of our enduring and dynamic partnership with the University of Stirling. This collaboration is more than just a partnership – it's a powerful conduit for giving young students the opportunity to grow and develop within our exciting environment. 

“Working alongside top practitioners in different departments, our students are not just preparing for the challenges of today, but are being equipped with skills and experiences for a lifetime of success. This collaboration is a testament to our commitment to excellence and the bright future of our young people.”

MPhil Performance Analysis student, Ross Ireland, said: “I’ve been given great exposure to so many talented people already and have the freedom to work on the areas that really interest me – including providing educational analysis sessions to academy players, working with the under 18s coaches and preparing and presenting data and analysis to players and coaching staff.

“The opportunity has opened my eyes to the wide range of roles available in professional sport and I know this year will not only boost my skills and confidence, but also really prepare me for a career in high performance sport.”

Andrew Smyth, who also joined Rangers through the MPhil, said: “Football has always been a hobby for me, so to be given the chance to work within a football club as big as Rangers is a really unique opportunity. 

“The Academy performance analysis department at Rangers is one of the best in Britain. I’m really looking forward to the hands-on work experience and to hopefully, through my research project, create a study which will be beneficial to the club.”

Find out more about studying a research degree with the University of Stirling on our website.