Recommendations for University Sports

The national Recommendations for University Sports were originally published in 2011. The recommendations support higher education institutions in the development of Finnish higher education sports. The recommendations provide higher education institutions with clear guidelines on the factors that good and effective higher education sports services are built on. When the sports conditions and facilities in higher education institutions are good and effective, it is easier for the higher education communities to implement and promote a more physically active lifestyle.

The Recommendations for University Sports have been built in a wide-ranging working group led by the Finnish Student Sports Federation. The working group was chaired by representatives from ARENE (Rectors’ Conference of Finnish Universities of Applied Sciences) and UNIFI (Universities Finland, formerly the Finnish Council of University
Rectors). The working group consisted of experts from student organizations, academic sports services, student health care, and sports and health sciences.

The Ministry of Education and Culture's area of expertise responsible for sports and physical activity has provided long-time support for the implementation of the recommendations through national project grants for a physically active lifestyle.

In 2018, the recommendations were supplemented with contents related to increased physical activity in the higher education environment and reducing daily sedentary behaviour and sitting.

In 2020‒2022, our Higher Education on the Move activities will specifically support the realization and implementation of this new recommended content in higher education institutions.

You can read the summary of the recommendations for university sports below.

Want to read the recommendations in full? You can find the recommendations and extensive background information in PDF format, downloadable via this link. The recommendations are only available in Finnish.

Recommendations concerning the entire higher education environment

Reducing daily sitting

  • The learning and study environments of higher education institutions (e.g. lecture rooms, classrooms and technological solutions) shall be planned, fitted and furnished so that it is easy and natural to work both sitting down and standing up and to change working positions.
  • The operational cultures of higher education institutions (e.g. teaching activities, communications including campaigns and events) shall be revised so that they support the easy changing of working positions, easily accessible physical activity and a reduction in the daily amount of sitting.

Increased activity in the higher education environment

  • Higher education institutions shall support physical activity in the higher education community (students, teaching and research staff, other staff), including physical activity that does not take place in the higher education institution’s sports facilities.
  • A positive, permissive and inspiring atmosphere that supports an inclusive higher education community shall be created in order to maintain and promote everyday physical activity.

Recommendations concerning academic sports services

A. Promoting physical activity in a higher education institution’s strategies:

  • The strategy or operational programme of a higher education institution shall contain the aims of the sports services offered by the institution, as well as the means for achieving these aims.
  • In addition to the sports services, the strategy or operational programme of a higher education institution shall also contain the targets for promoting physical activity and reducing the amount of daily sitting in the entire higher education environment, as well as the means for achieving these targets.

B. Funding of sports services:

  • On an annual level, higher education institutions shall invest at least €30 per student (excluding the share of self-financing by the students, if applicable) in their sports services.

C. Personnel resources in sports services:

  • Each higher education institution shall have at least one full-time employee per 5,000 students in charge of the sports services and the planning of the sports services.

D. Sports facilities:

  • There shall be at least one sports facility (= 60 hours of weekly use of the sports facilities at a suitable time) for every 1,000 students for the purposes of higher education sports.
  • Higher education institutions shall have access to at least so-called basic sports facilities (e.g. gym, aerobics room, ball game facility). Higher education institutions shall also develop their outdoor sports facilities (e.g. outdoor gym equipment).

E. Feedback system:

  • Higher education institutions shall regularly collect feedback on the sports services offered (including reduced sitting and more active higher education environments) as well as any suggested improvements directly from the users of the services and the entire higher education community. This feedback shall be systematically utilized in the development of higher education sports.
  • Promoting inclusion is the main focus when developing higher education sports.

F. Sports offering:

  • The sports services shall offer a diverse selection of various sports to help students find their preferred form of exercise.
  • The needs of different people and groups shall be considered when planning and implementing sports services.
  • When developing the range of sports offered, particular attention shall be paid to improving accessibility and inclusion (e.g. attitudes, physical and economic accessibility).

G. Activation:

  • Higher education institutions shall construct their sports services so that they are as easily accessible as possible for everyone, particularly for new students and those who have not exercised previously
  • Academic sports services and the student health service shall establish a joint sport and health advice service chain to support students who normally exercise very little.
  • When developing academic sports services and activating students to use these services, accessibility and various special groups (e.g. lonely students, different ethnic groups, international students) shall be given particular attention.

H. Using sports services:

  • The number of users of the sports services, as well as any changes to these numbers, shall be monitored on a regular basis.
  • The functionality of the sports services in relation to the number of users shall be graded incrementally, according to the following percentages: users in relation to the number of students < 15% = inadequate sports programme, 15–30% = satisfactory sports programme, 30–50% = good sports programme and 50–70% = excellent sports programme.
  • The students’ total amount of exercise will be monitored through the Finnish Student Health Survey.