Group of female university students exercising in a gym

Case Study: This BUCS Girl Can – Getting Female Students Active


There is a significant gender gap in the participation rates of Higher Education students. Only 48.6% of female students take part in physical activity once a week compared to 64.7% of their male counter parts.

Women in Sport partnered up with British Universities and Colleges Sport (BUCS) to share insights into how to engage inactive female students within universities.

Inspired by the This Girl Can campaign we worked with 10 universities across England to use Student Activators as a tool to generate engagement and receive feedback. This helped understand the barriers that ‘less sporty’ students face in participating and saw an increase in diverse groups of women enjoying the new activities offered by the universities.


This has been a great way of developing people’s confidence and gives people the opportunity to try out different sports which they have never done before.


• Engaging Student Activators – Engaging students in these roles offers them a development opportunity as well as getting a new audience moving.
• Engaging new audiences means doing things differently – Whether it is about communicating in new ways, running new activities or finding new coaches.
• Consultation is key – If you don’t ask then you won’t know, understanding female students is the only way to support them in being active.


  • 1.55 m

    more men than women in England take part in sport once a week

    Sport England, 2016

  • 42 %

    of women do 30 minutes of exercise per week during university

    Kingston University

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