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November was a strong month for Ulster University’s Sports Services with the awarding of a prestigious accreditation, and a celebration of its top performing sporting talent.

The university’s Sports Services has been awarded the Sport Ireland Institute Accreditation for Student Athlete Support (ASAS), which recognises good practice in ‘dual career’ support for student athletes.

A ‘dual career’ is where a high-performing student athlete can combine their education with their sporting career. The accreditation aims to identify and establish a network of accredited institutions who support elite athletes to achieve dual career excellence by applying guiding principles.

The news comes as the university announces its 2022 Performance Sport Scholars, who come from a variety of team and individual sports, and who study a range of undergraduate and postgraduate courses across the three campuses, and at the Jordanstown Sports Village.

The scholarships celebrate talent in 17 sports, across 42 athletes and three coaches, and among them are those who have already competed at European, World, Olympic and Commonwealth level.

Some of the high profile 2022 Performance Sport Scholars include:

  • Kate O’Connor who won the silver medal at the Commonwealth Games in heptathlon;
  • Matthew Teggart who just missed a bronze medal at the Commonwealth Games in the road race, finishing fourth;
  • Ruairi Canavan who plays Senior County Gaelic football and was awarded the EirGrid U-20 Footballer of the Year for 2022;
  • Emily Wilson, Abbie Magee and Joely Andrews who all played for the Northern Ireland women's football team at the Euros earlier this year, while Emily and Joely also played in the NI team that recently beat Italy;
  • Victoria Catterson who was a Commonwealth Games 2022 finalist, Irish senior record holder, and is working towards Olympic qualification for swimming;
  • Cara Murray, an Ireland Senior International in cricket with 40 caps, who helped Ireland qualify for the World Cup in 2023, and a historic T20 series win against Pakistan in Lahore;
  • In hockey, Jonny Lynch is playing for Ireland in the FIH Nations Cup in South Africa and is a key part of the team that is unbeaten (so far in the competition), and Charlotte Beggs was part of the Senior Ireland team that took on current world leaders, the Netherlands.

Announcing news of the sporting accreditation and this year’s scholars, Vice-Chancellor Professor Paul Bartholomew said:

“I am delighted with the news that we have been awarded the Sport Ireland Institute Full Accreditation for Student Athlete Support in recognition of our work in supporting our high-performing student athletes, to achieve their dual academic and sporting ambitions. At Ulster University, we play a key role in developing talent for the future in sport, and in many other facets of society. We are committed to continuing to invest in the long-term aspirations and futures of our students and in our campus environments.

“This is further solidified by the sheer breadth of talent on display among this year’s Performance Sport Scholars, who are being recognised for their significant achievements. With our £10m investment for the enhancement of the Jordanstown Sports Village, and our new 10-year Action Plan for Sport that we hope to launch in early 2023, it’s an exciting time to be a part of sport at Ulster University.

“Through a collaborative approach with key stakeholders within and beyond Ulster University, we will strive through our dual career programme to ensure the best possible future outcomes for our high-performance student athletes.”

Sport Ireland Chief Executive, Dr Una May, commented:

“It’s no surprise that high-performance athletes have unique demands in comparison to the non-student athlete population. Because of increased time and energy demands, increased accountability to various support providers, international travel and competition requirements, athletes require flexible and supportive structures in order to successfully attain a dual career.

“Creating an environment that supports dual career athletes is a key success factor.  A suitable dual career environment requires understanding and consistent, structured support, and that is what our successful ASAS are providing on an ongoing basis. A lot of work has been put in behind the scenes to make this accreditation possible, and the team in the Sport Ireland Institute and Student Sport Ireland are to be commended for bringing this to fruition.”

2022 Performance Sport Scholar and international cyclist, Matthew Teggart, added:

“I am absolutely honoured to be recognised for my sporting achievements at such a prestigious sports university. The scholarship award is a massive help to further both my educational and sporting performance. I’m really looking forward to representing Ulster University and giving my all to succeed in both my studies and sporting goals.”

Applications for the Talented Athlete Entry Scheme are now open until 25 January 2023: