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A new study that has crowned Lancaster University and the University of Oxford as the sportiest universities in the UK

Based on the amount of sports clubs and societies offered by each of the 100 top universities in the United Kingdom, the @PureGym research aims to help prospective students find the right place of study for them.

Offering everything from water polo to ultimate frisbee, Lancaster and Oxford ranked in joint first place, each with 81 sports clubs & socieities in total, while the top five also included the University of Bristol and Nottingham.

  • King’s College London & Queen Mary University of London made the top ten from the capital, while the prestigious University of Cambridge also featured in the top five 
  • Meanwhile, Cornwall’s Falmouth University rules the roost when factoring sporting choice against the amount of total enrolled students on campus 

With students starting or returning to their studies across the nation, PureGym has analysed the amount of sporting clubs and societies at each of the top 100 ranked universities in the United Kingdom. 

Lancaster University in the North West of England and the University of Oxford in central England ranked joint first, offering students an impressive 81 sporting options at each of their campuses. Oxford, synonymous with rowing, offers clubs for everything from football to polo and ultimate frisbee, while Lancaster prides itself on equal variety and facilities, with the likes of a barbell society for students interested in their strength training. 

As societies and sports clubs play such a key role in university life, which many students missed out on during the COVID-19 pandemic, PureGym researchers wanted to help current and prospective students that love sport, to easily view how much sporting choice they’ll have at their chosen place of study. Both clubs and societies listed on each university’s website were featured, with numbers ranging from the highest (81) to just three, that are on offer at Leeds Arts University. 

The Universities with the Highest Number of Sports Clubs & Societies 



# of Sports Teams 


Lancaster University 



Oxford University 



University of Bristol 



University of Nottingham 



University of Cambridge 



University College London 



Cardiff University 



King’s College London 



University of Aberdeen 



Queen Mary University of London 



Ulster University 



Imperial College London 



University of York 



University of Warwick 



University of Edinburgh 



University of Leeds 


in order to give the full picture, as student enrolment differs widely at universities across the United Kingdom, PureGym also looked at which universities rank top when taking into account the number of clubs available per student. 

While the University of Oxford might offer the broadest amount of choice for students, its actually Falmouth University in Cornwall that tops the podium when it comes to having the most clubs per student enrolled.

Lancaster University proves its strong sporting credentials however, again ranking favourably for sports societies per student, in addition to total options. Other universities where sporting clubs and societies may be less over-subscribed include Bangor University and Aberystwyth in Wales and the University of Aberdeen. 

The Universities with the Highest Number of Sports Clubs & Societies Per Student 

  1. Falmouth University 

  1. St George’s University of London 

  1. Aberystwyth University 

  1. Bangor University 

  1. Abertay University 

  1. Lancaster University 

  1. University of St Andrews 

  1. University of Aberdeen 

  1. York St John University 

  1. University of Stirling 

Stephen Rowe, Chief Marketing Officer at PureGym commented,

“Alongside lectures and a busy social life, joining societies and clubs that match up with your interests is a big part of being a university student. And more and more, we’re seeing young Brits looking to these clubs as a way to keep fit or enjoy their favourite sport during term time. 

“With students returning post pandemic, it felt like the perfect time to delve into which universities are actually offering students the biggest amount of choice when it comes to sport and fitness. Being active plays an important part in helping foster good physical and mental wellbeing, and finding a sport you enjoy as a student can help to build a long lasting healthy lifestyle – not to mention keeping you in excellent shape to keep up with the demands of a student lifestyle. With almost 300 gyms spread across the UK and close to many campuses too, we also look forward to welcoming some of these students to a PureGym near them!” 

Methodology: PureGym analysed the top 100 ranked universities in the UK according to The Times University League Table, by tracking the number of sports clubs and societies listed on each of the university websites. This number was then also calculated against total enrolment figures for each university, to provide the sports societies per student ranking.  

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