A new course designed to give students the opportunity to turn their love of sailing, paddlesports, climbing or archery into a career has been launched at Writtle University College in partnership with Essex Outdoors.
The two-year Foundation Degree in Sports Science with Outdoor Activity will give students the chance to gain invaluable experience and recognised qualifications with outdoor learning provider Essex Outdoors alongside an academic education.
The aim is to give college-leavers, serious hobbyists, career changers and those who love the outdoors the chance to gain vocational employment, undertake further study or go into support roles for the outdoor activity sector.
As well as graduating with a Foundation Degree from the University College, students will gain practical qualifications in their chosen discipline. They will also be given the opportunity to apply for CV-boosting (and paid) experience at Essex Outdoors or a similar company.
Dr Greg Deacon, who heads up the Higher Education Sports courses at Writtle University College, said: “This course provides students with the opportunity to undertake a substantial amount of real-world placement, National Governing Body qualifications in their chosen discipline and complementary academic study in Sports Science, such as anatomy and physiology, coaching, psychology, leadership development and strength & conditioning.
“What makes this course different is that, on successful completion, students can apply to top-up to a full degree in Sports and Exercise Performance at Writtle. It enables them to keep their options open.
“There are major opportunities in outdoors sport. In 2015, Sport England produced a report that stated that the outdoor market has huge potential with 8.96million people at that time active outdoors. Approximately 70% of regular participants (1.7m people) are participating in adventure sports and the sector is expanding. With our coastline and facilities, Essex provides exciting opportunities for graduates with the right mix of academic skill, practical qualifications and experience.”
The course takes advantage of its partnership with Essex Outdoors and the dedicated facilities at its four centres in Danbury, Harlow, Mersea and Bradwell as well as those on-site at Writtle University College, including a sports performance laboratory.
Ricky Hooper, Learning and Development Officer for Essex Outdoors, said: “Providing outdoor learning experiences with an organisation such as ours requires a high level of skill, maturity, leadership and organisational ability – skills that can be transferred into a range of careers.
“As well as delivering outdoor activities, a graduate could become a teacher and embed outdoor learning into their everyday practice – which is becoming increasingly popular with schools. They could become an outdoor activity instructor in the UK or travel internationally and do this seasonally. They could also go into managing a centre, business development, new activities and product creation, or forest school provision.
“The academic element is extremely valuable in the latter stages of a career related to outdoor activity but entry into the industry depends on experience and nationally-recognised qualifications. This course offers students the chance to gain both those elements while benefiting from the variety of multiple disciplines or concentration on the sport that is their passion.”
Claire Campbell, from Essex, is currently studying Writtle’s three-year BSc (Hons) Sports and Exercise Performance and has chosen to work seasonally at Essex Outdoors.
She said: “The new two-year Foundation Degree with Outdoor Activity is going to be a fantastic opportunity for other students like myself to enjoy studying at Writtle whilst broadening their knowledge and skills in the outdoors should they choose to do so. I thoroughly enjoy working at Essex Outdoors - aerial trekking and climbing activities such as Leap of Faith are two of my current favourites. I have recently completed my British Canoeing Level 1 Certification and I’m looking forward to continuing my studies at Writtle whilst working at Essex Outdoors.
“Study at Writtle is enabling me to turn my love of the outdoors, sport and adventure into a career. What’s brilliant about this new course is that it wraps up into one course applied study, professional qualifications, and the opportunity to gain practical experience elsewhere. This will make for an interesting two years of study and give students a great start to their careers.”