Fewer medals despite millions spent on university sport

NIK about fostering development of university sport  

In 2017-2021 (end of March), over PLN 100 million was earmarked for all programmes and tasks related to the development of university sport. The aid was granted to nearly 280 thousand students. Also, more than PLN 195 million was allocated to foster development of university sports infrastructure. The Minister of Physical Culture achieved most objectives and results of the programmes. He failed to monitor, though, if the performance of Polish competitors improved in terms of medals and scores in international competitions. Only in this audit NIK found that the Polish representation not only failed to perform better but also plummeted in rankings. Besides, the Minister did not ensure any evaluation or monitoring of the objective of the Programme on boosting students’ physical activity.

In the audited period both the Minister of Physical Culture and the Minister of Higher Education executed programmes and tasks which provided conditions for the development of university sport.

In 2017-2021 (until the end of March), the Minister of Physical Culture spent over PLN 80 million on programmes popularising sport among students, programmes on sports training, preparation and participation in sports competitions. In the same period, the Minister spent over PLN 87 million on the development of university sports infrastructure. As a result, aid was provided to nearly 253 thousand students from at least 150 universities and 4 thousand students in programmes on sports training, preparation and participation in sports competitions.

As a result of the programmes in 2017-2020, students won the total of 184 medals in the Summer and Winter Universiades and in the University World Championships in Olympic competitions. Competitors from the University Sports Association (AZS) won 247 medals in championships. NIK positively evaluated the participation of competitors being part of the programme University Sports Training Centres where 14 competitors won18 medals in individual and team competitions.

The audit findings showed that the Minister of Physical Culture did not monitor or evaluate the objectives of two programmes: the University Sports Training Centres and the University World Championships. In other words, the Minister failed to establish if the representation of Poland performed better in international championships in Olympic sports, both in terms of scores and medals. Only in the course of the audit NIK established that the Polish failed to win more medals. In 2017-2019, medal count in the Summer and Winter Universiades got down and the representation of Poland fell from 11th to 15th place and from 12th to 16th place, respectively.

In the audited period, the Minister of Physical Culture and the Minister of Higher Education and Science cooperated with universities to facilitate students’ dual sports career. It was about making it easier for young athletes to combine sports career and education. In order to do that the Minister of Physical Culture started two projects and a pilot programme. In 2020, as part of a special project, the Minister of Higher Education and Science in cooperation with universities subsidised individual studies to 300 student-athletes so that they could continue their sports career. Besides, high-performance students received scholarships of the Minister of Higher Education and Science and the universities’ rectors.

The Minister did not ensure evaluation or monitoring of the University Sport Programme on boosting students’ physical activity. NIK has also stressed that in the course of the programme in 2018-2020 some students were charged nearly PLN 309 thousand for taking part in competitions. The funds were used partly to cover the organisation of those events, although in theory their participants should not be charged with any fees. Following the audit NIK made a recommendation that the Minister of Sport and Tourism should evaluate the objective of the Programme on boosting students’ physical activity. Also, provisions of the University Sport Programme should be further specified to make sure students participating in the Programme are not charged with any fees.

In 2017-2020, the Minister of Higher Education and Science spent nearly PLN 108 million on sports investments and over PLN 21 million on programmes, projects, studies as well as scholarships and rewards. Aid was granted to over 22 thousand students.

The Minister of Physical Culture and the Minister of Higher Education and Science did not fully execute the cooperation agreement for the development of university sport in 2015-2020. The Ministers failed to jointly appoint the Programme Council which was supposed to coordinate and monitor the Agreement execution and to prepare relevant annual. Besides, the University Sports Infrastructure Team was not appointed and the list of sports infrastructure facilities, strategic for higher education facilities, was not developed.

The University Sports Association and its branches properly discharged their tasks using public funds to achieve the assumed objectives and results. NIK has pointed out, though, that the course of action of AZS was not defined and no effective mechanism was put in place to verify the number of students, competitors, trainers, instructors, sports sections to facilitate their annual monitoring and evaluation. Moreover, no memoranda or agreements of cooperation were concluded with AZS units to specify their obligations in terms of spending and settling subsidies granted from the University Sport Programme.

Recommendations

To the Minister of Sport and Tourism to:

  • strengthen supervision over the process of reviewing subsidy requests as part of programmes fostering university sport development;
  • evaluate the goal of the University Sport Programme to boost students’ physical activity;
  • evaluate objectives of the programme on training in University Sports Training Centres and the programme on competitors’ preparation and participation in universiades and the University World Championships;
  • further specify provisions of the University Sport Programme to make sure students participating in the Programme are not charged with any fees.

To the Minister of Education and Science to:

  • consider taking actions to increase support for projects related to university sport, also to popularise sport among students and to promote sport in the university environment.

To the Minister of Sport and Tourism and the Minister of Education and Science to:

  • take joint efforts to define the principles of regular cooperation of the two ministries in terms of planning and executing programmes and tasks to foster university sport development, including essential university sports infrastructure and mutual actions to develop dual sports career of students, making it easier for them to combine career and education.

Article informations

Date of creation:
20 May 2022 14:46
Date of publication:
20 May 2022 14:46
Published by:
Marta Połczyńska
Date of last change:
20 May 2022 14:46
Last modified by:
Marta Połczyńska
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