Universities in the UK should start lowering their entry requirements to let in more students with sporting talent, according to an Olympic athlete turned university chancellor.
Steve Cram, the 1,500 metre silver medal winner in the 1984 Los Angeles who is now chancellor of ther University of Sunderland, said a failure to adopt the policy - prevalent amongst United States universities - would deny young sports people access to the best facilities in the UK.
“I think we should be offering more ... sports scholarships and yes, bend a little bit if someone’s exam results aren’t quite what we want them to be,” he said in a podcast for the Times Higher Education magazine.
“They might have a chance of going to the Olympic Games in the rowing team or the athletics team, then help them out.”
Mr Cram said it was important to raise the profile of sport throughout the university sector rather than just concentrate on a handful of sport-focussed institutions like Loughborough and the University of Bath.
“Where we maybe haven’t caught up (with the US) .. in the education sector is in accepting that there is nothing wrong with having a good sports programme,” he added, pointing out many US universities attract top students because of their sporting prowess.