Building communities

Can you disprove this? Taking part in or spectating at varsity events doesn’t improve community cohesion for students and local communities



Varsity events – special sporting programmes or one-off events within and/or across institutions in the same group or region.

Community cohesion – for our purposes we will consider a single dimension of this: whether students feel a sense of belonging with their peers and with their local area/region.


Part A. Quantitative – build the argument

Not applicable for this guide.


Part B. Qualitative – how does your students’ unions contribute?

Take at least 7 or 8 varsity participants and student spectators and, as a focus group, ask them:

  • To list 3-5 words and phrases describing how varsity makes them feel
  • Do they feel more of a sense of belonging with their peers since before varsity? Do they feel more of a sense of belonging with their local area/region since before varsity?

Repeat this with another focus group who were not varsity participants or student spectators. (i.e. students who did not get involved with varsity at all)

What themes emerge? How do the two groups’ responses compare?


For both groups, where they think their feelings have changed as a result of varsity, ask them how and why they think that change has occurred.


Advanced questions

How are your students’ feelings changed towards students of the same institution compared with students of the opposing institution?


Example posters from students’ unions

Birmingham City University Students' Union



(If you develop an interview template, please send it in for others to use