New proposals mean York Sport membership could be free by 2012

Sam Asfahani says he is “very confident” that the plans will come to fruition. Image: Peter Iveson

Sam Asfahani says he is “very confident” that the plans will come to fruition. Image: Peter Iveson

The University and York Sport have combined to form a plan which could potentially see York Sport membership becoming free. The proposal could eradicate the current £40 joining fee and mean that sportsmen and women picked for their respective teams at the University will not have to pay for the privilege of representing them.

Following the coalition government’s announcement of a rise in tuition fees, universities are preparing to place more of an emphasis on extra-curricular activities, in an attempt to deliver more for the soon to be inflated price. The University of York has targeted increasing funding to sport as one of the areas that they hope will ease the burden felt by students.

The plans are yet to be confirmed as the University is waiting for the government to announce how much money institutions will be expected to put back in to non-core activities, in a funding paper prepared by the HEFCE which is expected soon. York Sport President Sam Asfahani said he is “extremely optimistic” at the prospect of free membership for all students.

While he is tentative about the scheme starting in the next academic year, Asfahani remained “very confident” that the changes will be brought in for October 2012.

Mirroring a concern of many students, the Sport President said that because of the increase in fees “there has to be a better student experience.” Asfahani paid testament to the willingness of the University saying “they have been great” and was keen to point out that this is something they have done on their own initiative, adding that they had chosen to pursue sport as an area of investment for no other reason than a desire to improve sport at York.

Dr David Duncan, the Registrar and Secretary for the University, was keen to echo the same sentiments of improvement: “As part of our preparations for the new fees regime, we are looking at all charges levied on students for core and non-core activities. Our preference would be to reduce the cost of participation in College and Club sport, or even better, to remove charges entirely”.

While there is no doubt that York’s sport teams have more than enough talent to compete at the highest level, there have previously been concerns at the level of funding given to the development of these sports.

At a recent men’s hockey match one York player berated the lack of support shown by the University; the opponents had their coach on the sidelines throughout the game, prompting the York player to declare that “their university actually cares about sports”. Asfahani hopes to address this saying “the university has highlighted sport as something that is underfunded so they have been very active on it”.

The announcement comes at an exciting time for sport at York as a whole. Dr Duncan added that “at the same time, we are already firmly committed to building new sports facilities on Heslington East and would like to upgrade the existing facilities on Heslington West”.

“The proposal to cut – or at least significantly reduce the cost of – the membership fee would therefore be part of a wider scheme to improve and promote sport throughout the expanding campus.”

Talfryn Provis-Evans, a second year badminton player who plays for the men’s seconds, said: “Anything that aims to increase the accessibility of sport has to be lauded. People will want to get involved and that can only help sport at York.”

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