Durham University is leading the way with supporting talented athletes in education in England, having been accredited by an innovative Talented Athlete Scholarship Scheme (TASS) initiative.
The Sport England-backed programme supports young sportspeople on the talent pathway to have the opportunity to gain qualifications alongside their sporting pursuits, follow other interests, as well as further their personal development.
By formally recognising an institution's commitment to supporting student-athletes, the TASS Dual Career Accreditation Scheme aims to allow athletes to reach their potential in education alongside achieving success in their sport.
Referenced within the Education section of Baroness Tanni Grey-Thompson's Duty of Care in Sport Review published in April 2017, Accreditation shows that a college or university has the ability to support students following a dual career route. Backing the scheme, she said:
"I believe we have a duty to help young people to achieve their potential, whilst prioritising their welfare, wellbeing and education. For the vast majority of athletes, skills and formal qualifications are needed to help them find alternative careers, either alongside their sporting activities or once their sporting days are over.
"For me, the TASS Dual Career Accreditation Scheme is a vitally important measure to ensuring all athletes have the chance to pursue an education and enjoy a more well-rounded approach to life."
As a Dual Career Accredited Site, Durham University will be an important extension of the network of universities that already partner with TASS, delivering core support services to more than 600 student-athletes each year.
These support services include physiotherapy, nutrition, lifestyle support, psychology strength and conditioning and a private medical scheme.
While some of the existing services delivered focus solely on developing the young person's sporting performance, a dual career support structure and academic flexibility policies are central to the help available to athletes based at an Accredited Site.
All Dual Career Accredited Sites receive training and a toolkit of resources to equip them with practical dual career support and bring together all parties who work with the athlete.
For student-athletes, the academic flexibility policies may mean they have the opportunity to access online notes or resources, are able to arrange catch up sessions with teaching staff, or even reschedule deadlines or exam dates in exceptional circumstances.
Meanwhile, for Durham University, the recognition of becoming a TASS Dual Career Accredited Site is expected to be beneficial by attracting a greater number of talented athletes and building connections with other local sporting institutions.
TASS National Director, Guy Taylor, said: "We're delighted to be awarding TASS Dual Career Accreditation to colleges and universities across England.
"Dual career support is at the forefront of what TASS does and that's why the Accreditation Scheme is so important for us in recognising those institutions who place precedence on their athletes' education too.
"We hope that the academic flexibility policies put into place for the Accreditation will begin to develop an effective and lasting dual career structure within each institution.
"Congratulations to the successful institutions and we look forward to working alongside many more outstanding colleges and universities in the near future."