Nottingham named Sports University of the Year

Friday, 18 September 2020

The University of Nottingham is the best university in the UK for sports, according to The Times and The Sunday Times Good University Guide 2021, published today (Friday 18 September). It is the second time in three years that Nottingham has been crowned the top sports university in the prestigious national awards. 

The University’s Leadership Academy programme inspires students to become the leaders of tomorrow

Nottingham is renowned for its sporting prowess, consistently ranked in the top 10 of the British Universities and Colleges Sport (BUCS) league tables since its introduction over 40 years ago. More than 20 of the University’s teams play in the top division of their sport and several students were tipped for individual gold this season before coronavirus hit. The Times and The Sunday Times judges said Nottingham’s performance this season was a key factor in the award this year.

At the pause of the season due to COVID-19, Nottingham was top of the BUCS league, after finishing in 2nd place last season. Nottingham was on track to achieving its strongest ever individual medal haul, with 27 gold, 22 silver and 19 bronze medals secured before lockdown. 34 teams won their leagues and 14 teams had qualified for BUCS finals, with two more at the semi-final stage.

Professor Shearer West
We are incredibly proud to receive this prestigious recognition for the second time in just three years, firmly positioning us at the forefront of sport in UK universities. It is a fitting reflection of our talented athletes and staff who fought hard to reach the top of the league this season.
Professor Shearer West, Vice-Chancellor and President of the University of Nottingham

Professor Shearer West continued: "Not only are we home to outstanding research with a global reputation for excellence, our approach to sport ensures that everyone can realise their potential whether that is through our specialist sports courses, success in worldwide competition, leading edge facilities or our civic contribution in helping Nottingham’s communities stay active."

In the last decade, the University of Nottingham has invested more than £50 million in its state-of-the-art sporting facilities, including the David Ross Sports Village which plays host to multiple national and international sporting events each year. Its leading sports and physiotherapy courses further bolster the University’s stellar sporting reputation.


The University of Nottingham also offers one of the best sport scholarship packages in the UK, supporting around 200 promising athletes who benefit from up to £8,000 in funding, as well as world-class coaches and training and competition facilities among the best in the country. Notable scholars include four-time national champion and two-time Commonwealth Games silver medallist in table tennis, Tin-Tin Ho, who is in her second year of studying Medicine.

Another, Esme Burge, University of Nottingham hockey scholar, was set to compete for Team GB at the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games before it was postponed.

“I made the decision to go to the University of Nottingham to get a really good degree, knowing I could do some of it online while I was away at tournaments and that the sport was really fantastic there. The coach Matt Taylor had coached me at a young age and was the best coach I had come across, the facilities were amazing and world-class, and I knew that they would support me in my sporting aspirations as well as my academic ones.”
Esme Burge, University of Nottingham hockey scholar and Team GB hockey player
University of Nottingham alumna Dr Deng Yaping meeting aspiring sports stars of the future who are benefiting from a scholarship established in her name

While Nottingham counts Olympic, World and Commonwealth champions amongst its alumni, which includes Chinese Athlete of the 20th Century and four times Olympic table tennis gold medallist, Dr Deng Yaping, and gold medal-winning canoeists, Dr Tim Brabants MBE and Etienne Stott MBE, its athletes also support grassroots sport. One of the University’s Leadership Academy programmes to inspire students to become the leaders of tomorrow, is a project working with the Laureus Sport for Good Foundation. Before coronavirus hit, more than 200 student volunteers delivered 1,901 hours of educational workshops to almost 2,000 local schoolchildren in deprived local areas.

Students at Nottingham are highly engaged with the University’s holistic sporting programme, with around 25,000 of the University’s 36,000 students participating in the multitude of sessions on offer catering to all levels, from beginner to elite, and includes an intramural programme with a system of 200 fixtures a week between halls of residence teams and friendship groups.

The University of Nottingham is ranked in 26th place overall in The Times and Sunday Times Good University Guide 2021.

Story credits

More information is available from Mark Bullock in the Department of Sport at; or  Katie Andrews in the Press Office at the University of Nottingham at 

Katie Andrews - Media Relations Manager for the Faculty of Social Sciences
Phone: 0115 951 5751

Notes to editors:

About the University of Nottingham

Ranked 32 in Europe and 16th in the UK by the QS World University Rankings: Europe 2024, the University of Nottingham is a founding member of the Russell Group of research-intensive universities. Studying at the University of Nottingham is a life-changing experience, and we pride ourselves on unlocking the potential of our students. We have a pioneering spirit, expressed in the vision of our founder Sir Jesse Boot, which has seen us lead the way in establishing campuses in China and Malaysia - part of a globally connected network of education, research and industrial engagement.

Nottingham was crowned Sports University of the Year by The Times and Sunday Times Good University Guide 2024 – the third time it has been given the honour since 2018 – and by the Daily Mail University Guide 2024.

The university is among the best universities in the UK for the strength of our research, positioned seventh for research power in the UK according to REF 2021. The birthplace of discoveries such as MRI and ibuprofen, our innovations transform lives and tackle global problems such as sustainable food supplies, ending modern slavery, developing greener transport, and reducing reliance on fossil fuels.

The university is a major employer and industry partner - locally and globally - and our graduates are the second most targeted by the UK's top employers, according to The Graduate Market in 2022 report by High Fliers Research.

We lead the Universities for Nottingham initiative, in partnership with Nottingham Trent University, a pioneering collaboration between the city’s two world-class institutions to improve levels of prosperity, opportunity, sustainability, health and wellbeing for residents in the city and region we are proud to call home.

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