Ask Brian: Is sports science in UL a sound option?
Sport and exercise science graduates are well-placed to find work in a thriving sector
“Some graduates have continued their education through MSc programmes to become specifically trained in areas such as physiotherapy”
PROBLEM: My son is sitting his Leaving Cert this year and is big into sport. He is thinking of applying for sports and exercise science at University of Limerick. His guidance counsellor, however, has advised against it. Is this a worthwhile option? Are there job opportunities in this sector?
ADVICE: I am very surprised that a guidance counsellor would give a negative view of this programme without outlining a specific aspect of that would give rise to concern. I hold this programme in very high regard.
The BSc sport and exercise sciences programme at UL prepares students for careers in a wide variety of areas in sport, exercise and health, ranging from involvement in sport at elite level to sport and simple exercise for wellbeing.
From the perspective of career options, it is worth bearing in mind that sport in Ireland supports 40,000 jobs, accounting for 1.6 per cent of our GDP. We spend more than €2 billion on sport-related activity every year.
Sport and exercise science graduates from UL are excellently equipped to service this market in Ireland and abroad. This is clear from the variety of opportunities availed of by previous graduates. A number of graduates hold key positions in the national governing bodies of sport: the Irish Sports Council and the Irish Institute of Sport. A number have worked with top sports organisations such as the Irish provincial and national rugby teams, a number of English Premier League football clubs, the British and Irish Lions, as well as professional teams across Europe, the United States, Australia and New Zealand.
Graduates also fulfil such roles as coaching, strength and conditioning, and development officers for organisations in Ireland and abroad. They work for local sports partnerships in Ireland or as health promotion, information and research officers with the HSE.
Some have carried on in academia and are now successful lecturers and award-winning researchers in their fields throughout the world, in sports and exercise sciences. Others have continued their education through MSc programmes to become specifically trained in areas such as physiotherapy, occupational therapy, teaching, biomedical science, biomedical engineering and information technology.
Some have continued their education in related areas such as sports journalism or entered graduate medical programmes.
A number have started their own businesses relating to sports and exercise, such as opening gyms or training destinations or working in the area of physical activity. Others are using the skills and knowledge gained in this course to work very successfully outside the sport and exercise science field.
The first destinations report of 2014 UL graduates from this programme reports that 91 per cent of graduates were in full- time employment or engaged in postgraduate education programmes. This compares very favourably with other courses at third level.
I would have no hesitation in recommending this programme to your son, if it conforms to his interests and aptitudes. I would suggest that he contact the department in UL and ask to visit the campus, possibly over a day during the upcoming midterm break from his school, so that he can form his own opinion of its potential to meet his career aspirations. I am sure UL will facilitate him in every way possible.
- Your questions answered by education analyst Brian Mooney. Email queries to firstname.lastname@example.org