Kingston University teamed up with Fulham Football Club to launch a partnership that will inject extra energy into a range of sport and education initiatives.
The links have enabled the Championship club to tap into academic acumen in areas such as sports science and nutrition, while offering a range of opportunities to the University’s students and staff in return.
The University and club were first put in touch by Kingston Council to explore possible ways they could both make use of each other’s sports facilities. They soon discovered they had even more in common, with plenty of potential to work together in other ways.
One of the bedrocks of the flourishing partnership is the link between the football club and the University’s sports science and nutrition courses – rated top for student satisfaction in England and Wales in 2015’s National Student Survey. The club is set to exploit the wealth of knowledge and research the University has in these areas and benefit from access to state-of-the-art facilities such as the human performance laboratory and body composition suite at the University’s Penrhyn Road campus.
Students, meanwhile, are able to tap into a host of opportunities devised to enrich their education. Trainee journalists have been among the first to reap the rewards of the partnership, putting their lecture theatre learning through its paces with a visit to Fulham’s training ground to interview England international midfielder Scott Parker. They have also had the chance to attend a manager’s briefing for its first team and have been putting their reporting skills to the test at key under-21 Premier League games.
The relationship also offers internship opportunities for students from fields as diverse as computer science, business and marketing. In exchange, Fulham staff will be encouraged to take advantage of tailored management and personal development training opportunities at Kingston Business School.
Journalism students have already visited Fulham’s Motspur Park training ground to practise interview techniques and reporting skills.
The University is working with the foundation on a pilot AccessHE programme, using football to raise awareness of all the benefits a degree has to offer youngsters who come from families with no previous experience of university education. The pilot also involves the University of Greenwich and Charlton Football Club.
Other off-field action will see University researchers support the foundation’s work improving health education and employability by sharing academic expertise and helping evaluate the impact of existing programmes. These include initiatives using football as a tool to educate children, young people and adults in Surrey about key health and wellbeing issues, as well as projects working with people not in education, employment or training such as over-50s in Guildford and young offenders at Feltham Prison.
With plans to launch a two-year sports coaching foundation degree and scope for further link-ups on the horizon, the partnership is growing rapidly. During a launch event at Fulham’s Motspur Park training ground, the University’s Vice-Chancellor, Professor Julius Weinberg, said there was huge potential for even greater collaboration. “Both Kingston University and Fulham Football Club place enormous importance on being open, inclusive and pioneering,” Professor Weinberg said. “I’m delighted to be working with a football club that shows such strong commitment to community development and using the power of sport to generate enthusiasm for education. This partnership definitely has legs and launching it is certainly among the most exciting strategic decisions we’ve made.”
Fulham chief executive Alistair Mackintosh said he was proud of the opportunities being developed through the partnership with Kingston University. “As a club, we place great importance on being open and inclusive and work hard to create many platforms to engage with local people,” he said. “I’m sure we will see even more of these opportunities open up as the partnership with Kingston University develops.”
Find out more about studying sports science and nutrition at Kingston University or learn more about the University’s business and enterprise activity.