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SCAN has learned that BUCS teams may be subjected to significant price increases for the upcoming academic year. Documents seen by SCAN have implied that sporting organisations may need to include a mandatory gym membership to gain the same gym access as they have used in the previous year.
SCAN understands that groups have been given 2 options to decide from, with Option A specifying that a £99 gym membership will be compulsory in addition to the original membership costs required when joining the club. Option B will not require an upfront payment but instead requires a significant amount of funding from the individual clubs. These changes supposedly stem from LUSU’s funding cuts, and they have identified BUCS as a major drain on financial resources.
Once the vote is conducted, the more preferable option will be implemented in September. Option A, as previously mentioned, enables the groups to keep their peak and off-peak training slots, as well as access to Roses funding. BUCS affiliation, entry and transport will also be covered, as it has been in previous years. The only fee that competitors needed to organise personally was overnight charges, relating to accommodation. However this all comes at the additional cost of almost £100. A source close to LUSU has told SCAN that this charge is a great deal more than the current average cost to join BUCS-competing societies, and in many cases this further fee will more than double the membership price of some clubs.
Sources have also specified that this could mark the demise of smaller sporting clubs, as recreational members who do not compete regularly may also be forced to pay this extra fee. It must be stressed that this has not yet been confirmed. Some also fear that this will subsequently result in membership drops, particularly as people will not want to pay considerably extra for something they see as a hobby.
The second option, known as ‘Option B’, sees this supplementary fee scrapped, but at a cost. Groups will only be allowed to retain one off-peak slot, which will be funded through additional club funds. This has caused confusion with some, as they do not know what exactly constitutes an off-peak slot. For the first time also, groups must cover 50% of all BUCS costs, including transport, which has, according to SCAN sources, always remained free. An additional mini-bus charge has been specified as costing £70. For teams who travel around the country on a bi-weekly basis, this could soon add up to a sum vast sum.
Although many were aware of these impending changes since June, it was only on July 15 that executive members of sporting organisations gained access to the options, and votes are apparently required by today (July 17). Strife has been directed in many directions, with some expressing disdain towards LUSU, whereas others have focussed on The University’s role in under-funding The Union. This displeasure is also evident in a petition requesting extra funding to LUSU, which has been set up to avoid this potentially damaging scenario.
Captain of the Trampolining Club Andie Forster has stressed the downsides of these potential charges. “I know that many members of my own club will not pay this much money, and I imagine anybody new coming in will be put off too.” Members (not necessarily executive) from other societies including lacrosse, football and hockey have also expressed disappointment.
Rich McVitty has stated on the petition that “If we don’t increase funding or get more my lacrosse will be seriously affected and potentially disappear.” All clubs who compete in BUCS are affected by this drastic changes, and many are in slight disarray regarding the short notice of these options.
Coming just weeks after the University injected £70,000 towards a failed attempt to win the Roses 2015 competition in York, this drastic change of approach towards sporting funding is highly surprising. With other Universities such as Surrey offering funding and scholarships for students who take part in BUCS, it seems odd that Lancaster will now require its sporting representatives to pay a large fee to continue to compete.
SCAN will continue to report on this issue when more information becomes available.
This article was updated at 10pm on July 17 to indicate that it was the University and not LUSU that provided the £70,000 Roses funding.
A joint statement was provided in response to this article by the University:
Sport Lancaster’ is a joint partnership between the University and Students’ Union that brings together all the sporting opportunities on offer to you at Lancaster University. Contrary to what has been reported, the University has provided substantial additional funding for LUSU in 2015/16.
As part of Sport Lancaster we have been working to create an improved offer for BUCS clubs that is financially sustainable and fair. This comes at a time when the cost of transporting teams to matches is increasing and the Students’ Union and clubs are striving to achieve more with the resources available. For instance, the financial gap relating to transport has been identified as £25k in the next academic year.
Sport Lancaster is considering the financial sustainability of teams and is trying to create an enhanced level of support. The proposal is that the Sports Membership for BUCS teams would include a gym membership, free club kit for players, enhanced coaching support and a new equipment fund that can be applied for. Some of this was already incorporated into BUCS team costs previously and will now be incorporated instead into the costs of the Sports Centre. In addition, For 2015-16 the University has reduced the price for bronze membership from £125 in 2014-15 to £99.
As the majority of our athletes already pay for sports centre membership most students, including non-BUCS participants, will pay no more next year. With the introduction of free playing kit individual clubs may be able to reduce their own membership fees from that charged this year or be able to redirect funding to make further coaching support available.
The aim is that the package on offer is to provide better value for money and help to further improve the performance of our teams. All of the extra funding generated from this change will be ring fenced for investment in the support BUCS clubs receive.
It’s recognised that not every club uses University facilities for competition and training so will not see the full benefits of the proposed models – we plan to work with these teams directly.