Importance of sport continues to grow
05 February 2020; Aaron McNaughton

The results of the third University Wellbeing Survey found that 82% of students stated that it was important that the University of Melbourne provides programs and facilities for sport and recreation. In addition, students engaging in regular physical activity at the University expressed a higher level of satisfaction with their experience at the University than those that did not.

Conducted in October 2019 by Melbourne University Sport in consultation with the Business Intelligence and Reporting team, the survey was established to provide robust data to support the Strategic Plan for Sport and to assist in the future development of sporting programs. The survey is conducted every second year after the inaugural survey in 2015.

The 2019 survey was sent to 60,880 students with an excellent completion rate of 18%. The data from the 10,875 student responses were weighted based on student population demographics (provided by Business Intelligence and Reporting) to be representative of the University’s student population.

Director of Sport Tim Lee said the Wellbeing Survey provides an excellent insight into the importance of sport and recreation. “It’s great to see a significant number of students state that sport matters, and that the importance of what we provide at Melbourne University Sport is resonating with them,” Mr Lee said.

“Even amongst those who are currently inactive, nearly three in four students state that it’s important that the University provides programs and facilities, which offers us a great opportunity to ensure these students are engaged in sport.”

The survey was also used to measure levels of student participation, both at and away from the University, their satisfaction with the student experience, and the impact of participation on career outlook and volunteering. Key highlights from the survey include:

  • 61% of students participate in activities once a week or more
  • 41% of active students listed that they are involved in physical activity at the University, with the top four activities listed as Gym/Fitness/Weight Training, Swimming for fitness/laps, Group Fitness/Group Exercise/Aerobics, and Badminton
  • 32% participate three or more times per week, an increase of 3% from 2017
  • Inactive students significantly decreased from 22% in 2017 to 17% in 2019
  • Over 8 in 10 inactive students state they would participate in physical activities if possible
  • Two thirds of students responded that participation in physical activities would increase their career/work opportunities. When asked why the leading response from a quarter of respondents was that these activities will provide needed networking and social skills

The survey also measured the reasons why students choose not to participate in regular physical at the University or not at all. The main barriers to participation were:

  • Don’t have the time, with 46% of inactive students stating it as a reason
  • University study demands was a key factor of inactivity
  • Travel time to and from the University making it difficult for students to participate at the University
  • Personal motivation to engage in regular physical activity increased from 13% to 27% of inactive students since 2017, making it a key factor of inactivity

Melbourne University Sport will now use the survey data and findings to demonstrate the impact of sport and recreation across the University and to investigate participation strategies for inactive students through focus groups and additional analysis.

A topline report is available to view here.

For a detailed report, comments or questions regarding the survey, contact Aaron McNaughton, Marketing Manager at