Liubov Sovershaeva, Deputy Plenipotentiary Representative of the President of the Russian Federation in the Northwestern Federal District, has held an expanded meeting online. The meeting incorporated a session of the Council of Rectors of the universities of the Northwestern Federal District on support and development of student sports in the Northwestern Federal District. The meeting brought together the representatives of the Ministry of Sports of the Russian Federation, other state authorities, and all-Russian public sports organisations.

Today, over 420,000 students study at universities in the Northwestern Federal District, with almost 190,000 of them being regularly engaged in physical culture and sports. Despite an increase in how to engage young people in sports, sports education in the universities of the Northwestern Federal District still requires a serious study, said Liubov Sovershaeva, Deputy Plenipotentiary Representative of the President of the Russian Federation in the Northwestern Federal District. For example, only 24% of universities in the Northwestern Federal District have their own student sports clubs. All in all, there are 31 of them. 44 % of students are regularly engaged in physical culture and sports.

In his opening speech, Nikolay Kropachev, Chairman of the Presidium of the Council of Rectors of the Northwestern Federal District and Rector of St Petersburg University, outlined several ways of how to attract students into sports life of the university and the country. The first is to develop academic programmes in physical culture and sports. As an example, he mentioned the programme of secondary vocational education ‘Physical Culture’ offered by the College of Physical Culture and Sports, Economics and Technology at St Petersburg University. Nikolay Kropachev recommended rectors of other universities to think about how to develop similar programmes to strengthen sports in the regions. The same proposal was suggested for bachelor’s and master’s programmes. Nikolay Kropachev mentioned the bachelor’s programme ‘Physical Training and Sport’ that was recently opened at the University. How to develop sports is a complex issue that incorporates various aspects, including legal ones, so it is no coincidence that the University offers the master’s programme ‘Lawyer in the Field of Sports Law (Sports Lawyer)’, he said.

Our task is to offer an opportunity for students to combine sports and education.

Nikolay Kropachev, Chairman of the Presidium of the Council of Rectors of the Northwestern Federal District and Rector of St Petersburg University

The Chairman of the Presidium of the Council of Rectors suggested that we should develop individual training schedules and programmes implemented in a distance mode. These tools are successfully used at the University. They are particularly aimed at providing students with an opportunity to balance their study and high-level sports competitions.

The meeting also focused on how to boost motivation among students to go in for sports. The universities should make every effort to develop student sports, including providing the necessary funding support for sports events, said Liubov Sovershaeva. Among the methods of financial support for sports are endowment funds, personal scholarships for student athletes, and strengthening the material and technical sports base at universities.

Among the most important issues on the agenda of the meeting was interaction between universities and public sports organisations, said Liubov Sovershaeva. According to the Deputy Plenipotentiary of the President of the Russian Federation, this is necessary in order to increase the effectiveness of physical education of students. The meeting was attended by two representatives of such organisations: the Russian Student Sports Union and the Association of Student Sports Clubs of Russia.

The Russian Student Sports Union actively cooperates with the All-Russian Sports Federations, holds the All-Russian Universiade and All-Russian Student Sports Festivals. It also ensures that student national teams of Russia take part in the global Universiades, said Roman Olkhovsky, Vice-President of the Union.

The Association of Student Sports Clubs of Russia was founded on the initiative of students. It includes 426 student sports clubs from 73 regions of the country.

The last but not the least issue was how to increase the number of student sports events and motivate students to participate in them. According to Aleksei Demidov, Chairman of the Council of University Rectors of St Petersburg and the Leningrad Region, in 2020, due to the pandemic of the new coronavirus infection, only 21 out of 70 planned sports events were organised. In 2021, more sports events were held. He hoped that if coronavirus situation improved, all planned sports events would be held.

At the end of the meeting, Nikolay Kropachev proposed to adopt a resolution of the Council of Rectors of the Northwestern Federal District to urge students and staff of universities in the Northwestern Federal District to be vaccinated against COVID-19. The members of the Council of Rectors adopted the resolution unanimously.

All materials of the meeting will be summarised and sent to the office of the Plenipotentiary Representative of the President of the Russian Federation in the Northwestern Federal District for review.