University of Kent sports scholars to be banned from Medway teams

The University of Kent is to prevent Kent sports scholars from playing for their home teams at the Universities at Medway Campus from next September.

The decision was reached at a University of Kent Sports Development meeting on the basis that Kent University is not getting enough out of its investment in sports scholarships.


 Greenwich student OJ Stone, Rugby Development Officer for the Medway Spartans, has branded the sports scholarship programme a joke, claiming that it is wrong for Kent University to force students to travel in order to play for the Kent Canterbury campus: “It’s quite clear that it’s blatant bribery for the good players, but unfortunately the opportunities at Medway are far better than at the University of Kent Canterbury (UKC) campus, but they don’t know that as they’ve never bothered to ask.”

In the most recent Universities at Medway Students’ Association Sports Council meeting all the sports clubs jointly condemned the decision to deny students on a University of Kent sports scholarship programme the chance to play for the Medway Campus, citing the move as “unfair.”

Mel Clewlow, Kent University’s Sports Development Manager, is attending the next Sports Council meeting to explain the change in university policy to the Medway Campus sports clubs. She says the University of Kent wants to benefit from its investment in scholarships, claiming there is a need for sports scholars to represent the University of Kent in the highest British Universities and Colleges Sport (BUCS) league possible “so as to attract higher calibre sports people to the university.”

Gavin Milne is a Kent University sports scholar who has played for the Medway Spartans 1st XV rugby team for two years and for Canterbury city rugby club for a year. He is not planning to apply for the scholarship next year as he does not want to play for UKC as after watching the Spartans grow as a club for two years and he now feels a big commitment towards the team: “There are another eight players that play for UMSA Spartans that are eligible for a sports scholarship as they have all played county level rugby. None of them would take the scholarship if they had to play for UKC as they are enjoying their rugby up here and believe they are playing with players of the same standard as UKC.”

Jane Glew, Kent University’s College Master for Medway, last year ensured that required strength and conditioning training was arranged at Medway instead of at UKC, so that Kent scholars at Medway would not constantly have to travel to Canterbury. She believes that the question of Kent scholars playing for Medway needs to be further investigated and that; “The principal factor to be considered is that the scholarship funding is coming from Kent rather than from UMSA.”

A few years ago OJ Stone successfully campaigned for Greenwich University to recognise students who play sports on the Medway campus as they did with their main campus students. Thanks to OJ Greenwich students who compete at Medway now receive their university colours upon graduation – unlike University of Kent Medway or Canterbury Chirst Church Medway students.

Now OJ is fighting the University of Kent’s stance on sports scholarships. “Obviously Kent put the money into the scholarship, but it’s only Kent Students that can apply for it, so surely only Kent students benefit?” He points out that the Medway teams could soon overtake Canterbury in BUCS points, especially with regard to the ruby teams: “All four UKC rugby teams are looking forward to demotion at the end of this season. Going on current performance and growth it is not unlikely that within two years Medway 1st XV will be in the same if not higher league than UKC 1st XV.”

He adds that Medway will almost certainly be higher than Greenwich in the BUCS league this year. If the university doesn’t change its mind OJ reckons students will prefer not to take the scholarship. “In regards to rugby, players would rather go without the scholarship as the standards of training and coaching are higher at Medway than at UKC. I understand this is the same for the rowing club.”

In total there are 14 University of Kent sports scholars at Medway. At present four of these students play for the UKC campus, although Mel Clewlow expects this number to rise once the Cricket season begins. Those who travel to the Canterbury campus are claiming back travel expenses in their scholarship, but the university is investigating the possibility of a shuttle bus for students who wish to attend the campus for training or Wednesday matches.

Canterbury Christ Church and Greenwich University do not provide sports scholarships to students at Medway, but Gravesend Rugby Club can provide bursaries to Greenwich students who play with the club at a high enough level.

Originally published here: