Trinity College Dublin have been awarded the Sport Ireland Institute Accreditation for Student Athlete Support (ASAS), which recognises good practice in ‘dual career’ support for student athletes.

ASAS is based on providing equal opportunity to all high-performing student-athletes to combine sport and education and is grounded in the right to education. The accreditation outlines clear dual career criteria that third-level institutes must have in order to receive the accreditation. The accreditation aims to identify and establish a network of accredited institutions who support elite athletes to achieve dual career excellence by applying guiding principles. ASAS was launched in July 2021, and the first applications were accepted in October 2021 and adjudicated by an award committee consisting of representatives of Sport Ireland and Student Sport Ireland.

Speaking at the awards presentation, Minister of State for Sport and the Gaeltacht Jack Chambers TD commended the introduction of the accreditation for third level institutions: “The ASAS initiative is a very welcome addition to the high performance sport landscape, recognising the important role that our third level institutions play in the development and support of our student athletes. Having an athlete centred approach makes pursuing education and sport at the highest level a viable and worthwhile option for athletes. All six HEIs are to be commended on their work to date, and I look forward to seeing many more join them in the years ahead.”

Dr Linda Doyle, Provost, Trinity College Dublin, commented: “We are delighted to be formally recognised by Sport Ireland for the dual career support we provide to our student athletes at Trinity College Dublin. We are committed to providing a supportive environment for student athletes to enable them to achieve academic excellence whilst also competing at the highest level on the international sporting stage. We value our student athletes and will continue to enhance our dual career supports for them into the future.”

Sport Ireland Chief Executive Dr Una May commented: “It’s clear that high-performance athletes have unique demands in comparison to the non-student athlete population. Because of increased time and energy demands, increased accountability to various support providers, international travel and competition requirements, athletes require flexible and supportive structures in order to successfully attain a dual career. Creating an environment that supports athletes’ participation in sport and education is a key success factor. A suitable athlete centred environment requires understanding and consistent, structured support, and that is what our successful ASAS applicants are providing on an ongoing basis. A lot of work has been put in behind the scenes to make this accreditation possible, and the team in the Sport Ireland Institute and Student Sport Ireland are to be commended for bringing this to fruition.”

Combining education or full-time work with a sporting career is known as a ‘dual career’. Over the last two decades, there has been an increase in the number of high-performance athletes engaging in third level education. The short and long-term value of gaining an academic qualification in advance of athletic retirement has been well documented and includes;

• benefits to performance
• having a more rounded and integrated identity
• enhanced personal development and future employability
• a healthier post-athletic career adjustment

Director of Sport Ireland Institute Liam Harbison added: “The main aim of the ASAS programme is to formalise and raise the level of dual career support for student athletes throughout the higher education sector in Ireland. Our goal is to have a majority of Higher Education Institutions ASAS Accredited by 2025. A promising start has been made towards this target, with six institutions -representing approximately 20% of HEI’s in Ireland - submitting applications in year one. Notably, a significant number of HEI’s have sought expert support in building their dual career support infrastructure since the programme was launched in the summer of 2021. Sport Ireland Institute will be seeking applications for accreditation once again in 2022, and we are encouraging all HEIs to work towards the ASAS standard.”

Matthew Dossett, President of Student Sport Ireland, said: “Congratulations to all those who have attained the ASAS mark this year. It is fantastic to see the work and structures which many 3rd level institutions have been developing aligned to EU dual career policy for the past decade formally recognised by Sport Ireland. With just over half of the Team Ireland Tokyo 2021 Olympic and Paralympic delegations made up of current students and recent graduates we know that universities and colleges are a fundamental part of the high performance structure, which includes a network of world class facilities, expertise, and research, along with significant investment in support services for student athletes. There is a huge amount of work which takes place behind the scenes in 3rd level institutions enabling students to balance their academic and sporting endeavours, and I would like to thank and commend all those involved. Thank you also to colleagues across Student Sport Ireland and the Sport Ireland Institute for enabling this cross-sector collaboration, we look forward to exploring further initiatives and support links into the future.”