A petition has been launched by a Warwick student to stop the increase in price of Warwick Sport’s Club Pass next academic year.
For the 2019/20 academic year, the on-campus Club Pass cost £56.50. The petition alleges that “Warwick Sport is attempting to sneakily increase the price of the Club Pass by £10 per student”.
The petition, created by Mixed Hockey President Billy Arnold, said: “This would mean that from September, it would cost over £100 for any student to become a member of a sports club, even before factoring in additional costs that many students have to pay such as equipment, kit and training fees.
“By increasing the price of membership, Warwick Sport is making sport less inclusive for Warwick students, and is directly undermining its goal of trying to create an active campus.
“It is unacceptable for Warwick Sport and the University more generally to offset its losses caused by coronavirus by increasing the financial burden on students, given that students and their families will also be experiencing economic difficulties,” the petition added.
Warwick students who wish to join a sports club pay for the Students’ Union (SU) Sports Federation fee (£32), either an on-campus (£56.50) or off-campus Club Pass (£27.50) and a Sports Club joining fee (£6). All fees are annual and are paid in one lump sum.
The Club Pass provides “access to facilities for training and matches, as well as development opportunities and personalised support from the dedicated Warwick Sport Club Development team”.
By increasing the price of membership, Warwick Sport is making sport less inclusive for Warwick students, and is directly undermining its goal of trying to create an active campus
The petition, which currently has over 800 signatures, also claimed: “Warwick Sport have refused to refund students the cost of Term 3 membership (worth £30 per student), despite the fact that they closed facilities so no one was able to train or play sport.”
The petition makes four demands: ensure that no play means no pay, if fixtures and training are disrupted because of coronavirus; flexibility of payment; delay any increase in the price of the Club Pass; and for the University to re-evaluate its relationship with sport.
One anonymous Warwick student said: “Being part of a sports club has been central to my university experience; this price increase would make a vital part of university life inaccessible and unaffordable for many people.”
Commenting to The Boar, Billy added: “It seems like the University view sport in the wrong way. They view it as a financial burden, instead of an opportunity to increase healthiness, improve welfare and boost inclusivity.”
When contacted by The Boar, current Sports Officer Charlotte Lloyd said: “This increase comes in an academic year where there will only be BUCS sport in term two, the Club Development Fund (worth £10,000) is being removed, and the 30 days of event space in the Sports Hub (which is usually held with no additional charge for clubs so they can host competition) is being removed.
“In a year where sport will be limited, both in terms of training and competition, and where students will struggle to find jobs available in the leisure and hospitality industry, this increase is very unfair.
In a year where sport will be limited, both in terms of training and competition, and where students will struggle to find jobs available in the leisure and hospitality industry, this increase is very unfair
– Charlotte Lloyd
“I was kept out of conversations by Warwick Sport, and was told about the £10 increase only after it had been ratified – something which the Student Officers have since spoken with the university about, because it is crucial that student voice is represented where matters affecting students are involved.
“I have now been invited to Senior Leadership meetings with Warwick Sport where I of course intend to raise student concerns,” she added.
In an exchange of emails seen by The Boar, Head of Sport and Active Lifestyles at Warwick Sport, Ian Mckinney told sports clubs: “The cost of facilities is only a small proportion of the cost of running student sports clubs. Student sport is heavily subsidised by the University, through Warwick Sport who do not make a profit.
“We are aware that Covid-19 will have an impact on all our clubs but as the facilities are only a small proportion of the cost and it may seem counter intuitive to be increasing the price at this time but we are doing so to continue to positively balance student use and overall income within Warwick Sport.
“By increasing the price to all members by a small amount we are able to maintain the levels of facility access, professional support. Please also remember that for every member who does pay for a club pass they receive over £300 in return.
The University of Warwick has been contacted for comment.
UPDATE: (21.06.2020 at 20.08): A spokesperson for the University said: “Sports club membership at Warwick is very heavily subsidised and the provision of sport requires a significant investment by the University via Warwick Sport.
“With around 4,200 club members Warwick Sport invests over £300 per sports club member, charging just £56.50 for a club pass in 2019/20. This significant subsidy has been under review as the current model is clearly not sustainable and something had to change.
“As a result of this Warwick Sport have taken the decision to increase the cost of the club pass, with on-Campus membership increasing from £56.50 to £66 and off-Campus from £26 to £30. The club pass covers a full year and is not broken down by term.”