Stirling has been Scotland’s University for Sporting Excellence since July 2008. During this period, the University has produced many world-class athletes, who have gone on to win titles at the highest level – including at the Olympics and Commonwealth Games. At last year’s Commonwealth Games alone, University athletes won 11 medals – including six for swimming star Duncan Scott.
Athletes who have come through Stirling programmes include: triathletes David McNamee, Grant Sheldon and Natalie Milne; tennis ace Jonny O’Mara; Scotland hockey international Alison Bell; curling’s Kyle Waddell; and boccia star Scott McCowan.
Stirling athletes benefit from the expertise of the University’s internationally renowned coaches – such as high performance swim coach Steven Tigg. Notably, Shelley Kerr was the University’s high performance football coach, before moving on to take charge of Scotland’s women’s team.
The Lawn Tennis Association recently set up a National Academy on campus, while the University is partner to Stirling County Rugby Club in the new semi-professional Super 6 league, due to kick-off in November. The University is home to the National Swimming Academy, while sportscotland, Commonwealth Games Scotland, Scottish Swimming, Triathlon Scotland and the Scottish Football Association Central Area, are all located on campus.
Today, Stirling remains at the forefront of supporting and inspiring talented athletes to fulfil their sporting and academic potential, offering sports scholarships across seven different sports. It also offers the perfect base for students, staff and members of the wider community to train, play and stay healthy. The iconic new sports complex – due to open in summer 2020 – will unlock increased levels of participation and opportunities for sport and physical activity. It will also enhance the student club experience for more than 2,500 students as the University continues to compete at the highest levels.
Dedicated to developing excellence in sports knowledge, practice and policy, the University undertakes high-quality research that improves the management and governance of sport, enhances support for athletes and delivers public health benefits. That work has included high-profile, multidisciplinary research looking at the risks associated with heading in football; providing the scientific evidence for the roll-out of The Daily Mile initiative; and creating excellence and diversity in the sports workforce through the development of women coaches.
Stirling students benefit from innovative, award-winning undergraduate and postgraduate courses that equip students to work at all levels in sport management, coaching and sport and exercise science.
Stirling’s MSc Sport Management is in the top 10 courses of its kind in Europe and top 25 in the world. Notably, Noeline Taurua, the head coach of the New Zealand netball team – which won the World Cup in July – and Gail Parata, who coached the Scottish Thistles team at the same competition, both graduated from Stirling’s MSc Performance Coaching programme.
Professor Gerry McCormac, Principal and Vice-Chancellor of the University of Stirling, said: “The University of Stirling is tremendously proud to be named The Times and Sunday Times UK Sports University of the Year 2020. This prestigious designation is important recognition of the hard work, enthusiasm and achievements of our students and staff.
“As Scotland’s University for Sporting Excellence, our mission is to deliver the best for Scottish sport through the powerful and inspirational combination of sport and education – and to make a difference in sport and health globally through world-leading research and teaching.
“Through our world-renowned performance programmes, we are at the forefront of helping and inspiring athletes to fulfil their sporting and academic potential. We take great pride in having produced some of the finest British talent – including Olympic and Commonwealth Games medallists.
“We are currently laying the foundations for the future with a £20 million redevelopment of our sports centre. It will see the creation of an iconic new complex, integrated with existing world-class facilities, which will help nurture talent and provide a state-of-the-art setting for our students, staff and wider community, in which to train, play and stay healthy.
“We are very excited about what lies ahead – and are extremely proud to be The Times and Sunday Times UK Sports University of the Year 2020.”
The Rt Hon Lord Jack McConnell, Chancellor of the University of Stirling, said: “From World Championship medals to community participation, and outstanding facilities to ground-breaking research, the University of Stirling is definitely the best place for sport.
“This award recognises all of the hard work done by staff and students and I hope it will encourage more people to take part and more competitors to win in 2020.”
Cathy Gallagher, Executive Director of Sport, said: “To be named UK Sports University of the Year 2020 is hugely significant for the University of Stirling. It’s a great achievement for the entire University and testament to a lot of hard work that has been invested over the past number of years.
“Our role is to correctly position and embed sport and physical activity within a world-class student experience and the award provides an opportunity to enhance that further and, as a broad goal, get as many students, staff and members of the community involved at a level of their choosing.
“We very much take a University-wide approach to sport, health and wellbeing. The support of senior officers, the significance placed on sport and the collaboration and partnerships throughout the organisation make the experience as brilliant as it can be and are vital in helping us realise our ambition to set standards.”
Professor Jayne Donaldson, Dean of the Faculty of Health Sciences and Sport, said: “We are delighted to be recognised as UK Sports University of the Year 2020.
“The Faculty of Health Sciences and Sport brings together health and sport academics, the sport sector, practitioners and applied sport provision within its education courses and cutting-edge research. This makes it an exciting place to study sport, and also brings students, staff and the public together to take part in sport within our campus.”
Professor Tess Kay, Head of Sport and Deputy Dean of the Faculty of Health Sciences and Sport, said: “This is such a great award for our staff and students – it really recognises the exceptional quality of the environment Stirling has created for producing excellence in sport.
“We have successfully brought together academic and applied sport provision in all forms – education, research, sports facilities and prestigious sports partners. Having some of the largest national sports bodies on campus puts sport at the heart of this University - and the University at the heart of sport. It gives our academics unique access for cutting-edge research and has enormous benefits for our students.
“Stirling’s sport students are not just qualified, but networked and knowledgeable; they know the sport sector and they know how to work in it. We take great pride in watching them go forth as practitioners, leaders, scientists and researchers to deliver excellence in sport.”
Find out more about the thoughts of figures in sport on the reasons behind the award.