UWS provides free access to sports facilities

Universities UK’s Stepchange Framework looks at student mental health and wellbeing through four ‘domains’ of Learn, Support, Work and Live. The places in which students live must be supportive of their health and wellbeing, as the following example shows.

The University of the West of Scotland (UWS) has made a sector-leading commitment to student wellbeing by providing students with free access to UWS-operated fitness facilities. Since 2018, students have enjoyed unlimited access to gym and fitness classes across all three of UWS’s campuses. Even when facilities were closed during the Covid-19 pandemic, UWS ensured students were able to continue exercising by providing free online classes.

Student wellbeing is a core value for UWS and by removing barriers to exercise through free entry to university-owned facilities, the institution hopes to encourage healthy behaviours among students and enable them to pursue a healthy lifestyle. UWS recognises that healthy lifestyles are intrinsically linked to positive wellbeing due to the associated physical and mental health benefits of being more active and increased social opportunities that come with sport participation.

The significant impact of free access to fitness facilities on students was evaluated by UWS in 2019 and the results were extremely positive. 94% of respondents indicated that attending the gym had a positive impact on their overall student experience whilst 77% experienced an improved feeling of belonging at UWS. Additionally, 74% recognised that attending a gym had a positive impact on their academic studies and 98% agreed that access and attending the gym had had a positive impact on their overall mental wellbeing.