Ucas Listing: Scotland Sporting life is up to par

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Indy Lifestyle Online
It's not just golf

and "fitba"

north of the border.

Scottish universities

offer perhaps the

most extensive

games facilities

in the land,

writes John Izbicki

THINK SCOTS and sports, and hefty, bearded and kilted chaps tossing cabers may come to mind. Only a few mortals are actually capable of tossing the odd caber, so fortunately a large variety of other sports is available at Scotland's many campuses.

And even if a university does not have sporting facilities, there are plenty to choose from in most localities. The University of Abertay Dundee, for example, has a good gymnasium with a fitness room, clubs that offer boxing, hill walking and mountain-bike riding, but no games. Students can, however, purchase a reasonably priced card for access to many sporting facilities owned by the district council.

At the other extreme is the University of Stirling, which has so many sports on tap that it manages to collect a handsome income from its holiday lets. The campus loch serves as an excellent venue for canoeing, sailing, fishing and, if you have got the stamina, swimming. There are 23 acres of playing fields, a sports hall, numerous squash courts, a fully-equipped athletics field, a bowling-cum-croquet green, a large swimming pool, tennis courts (the campus is home to the Scottish National Tennis Centre), an all-weather pitch, a nine-hole golf course, a running track, a sauna and solarium. What more could one possibly want? Other than skiing, perhaps. Stirling is just a few miles from the nearest slopes. Sporting clubs also abound, including American and Gaelic football, rugby league, rifle, softball and lacrosse. Phew!

At the University of Edinburgh, there are 24 acres of playing fields and three new clay tennis courts. Next to Pollock Halls, the university's main halls of residence, is an Olympic-sized swimming pool, built for the 1970 Commonwealth Games. It is owned by the local authority and costs little to use. And just 10 minutes from the halls is the Pollock Sports Centre, with a sports hall, a fitness room, 10 squash courts and even a rifle and archery range.

Not to be outdone, the University of Dundee boasts 33 acres of playing fields and a vast new sports hall. There are four squash and tennis courts, a gym, a swimming pool and a sauna. There is even a watersports centre. Sporting clubs include boating, boxing, curling, freefall, Gaelic football, kickboxing, trampolining and water polo. What is more, the St Andrews Royal and Ancient Golf Club awards bursaries worth pounds 1,500 apiece to eight students.

But St Andrews University tops the list for size, with 60 acres of playing fields, athletic tracks, all-weather tennis courts, a gymnasium, cricket nets, a boat house, a superb running track, a sauna anda reduced-fee golf course, with a further five golf courses provided locally. Students often find work caddying for the golfers who invade the town virtually throughout the year.

At Heriot-Watt University in Edinburgh, there is a most impressive array of facilities, including six football and two rugby pitches and a cricket field, as well as a floodlit training area, three tennis courts, a sports hall, a climbing wall, two multi-gyms, golf driving nets, a fitness room with all the weights one could wish for, and an indoor sports court. The Moray House Institute of Education houses the Scottish Centre for Physical Education, while the Riccarton campus is home to the National Squash Centre. Who needs separate sporting activities when both Rangers and Celtic football clubs are on hand? Nevertheless, Glasgow University's Stevenson Building provides a 25-metre swimming pool, a steam room, sauna, two squash courts, a fabulously equipped cardio-vascular suite and an area where students may do muscle building and toning. There is also a full grass pitch nearby and a synthetic seven-a-side pitch used as training grounds for all outdoor sporting activities.

There are several gymnasiums, two pools, football pitches and a sports hall available at the three sites of Glasgow Caledonian University, which also has hill walking and snowboarding clubs.

Although Edinburgh's Napier University does not approach some of the other Scottish institutions for sport, its Sighthill campus, which houses 2,000 business students, has a sports hall with a multi-gym, a climbing wall and tennis courts. Craiglockhart, Napier's electrical engineering, computing and mathematics campus, has a swimming pool and putting green.

Sporting clubs include aerobics, hang-gliding, shooting and windsurfing.

Rugby and football pitches are available at the University of Paisley, along with a sports hall and fitness room, and there is a reciprocal agreement which allows students to use additional facilities at other educational establishments in the vicinity. These include a swimming pool, a golf course and an ice rink.

And across the sea, at Queen's University, Belfast, there is a 400 metre- long running track named after Mary Peters of Olympic fame, and no fewer than 20 playing fields, four of them all-weather. There are also loads of good clubs.

For those keen to see the sporting successes of their prospective university, look out for the latest edition of the Push Guide, to be published on 20 August at pounds 11.99.