Some of this information is perhaps more relevant to players who graduated a few years ago and who might not otherwise realise quite how big university ultimate has become.
Over 70 institutions enter ultimate teams into UKU and BUCS competitions every year.
Uni Indoors involves ~ 125, 80, 140 teams in the Mixed, Women's and Men's divisions respectively and more than 20 separate events every year. All three divisions now involve 32 teams playing in two divisions of National Finals.
The first stages of Uni Outdoor competitions are now played as a BUCS league in both the Men's and Women's divisions, with ~ 80 and 40 teams respectively. Outdoor Nationals (UMWON) sees 80 teams competing in Nottingham every April. With approximate 1500 university ultimate players onsite, it is a fantastic spectacle.
For many years we have seen steady growth in the Women's and Mixed divisions, with women now making up over 40% over our university membership.
The mixed division has reliably attracted 50 teams to Nationals for the last few years despite some very challenging weather conditions. This division has remained outside the BUCS programme for the time being, which allows us a little more flexibility to experiment, and we switched the competition to Swiss Draw format several years ago. In 2019, we held the main UXON event in St Andrews but hosted an alternative competition in Cardiff on the same weekend. In 2020 (trying to get out of the snow) we were due to trial UXON after exams in June - with sunshine, party and camping on site.
University clubs support more players than just those who enter competitions and join UK Ultimate. The big clubs attract and retain over 100 members every year. The tradition of running beginner's tournaments is as strong as ever, with many clubs running such events around the country every year during October and November.
As the sport has moved into the BUCS league format, we have seen an increase in interest and support from some universities. An increasing number of university clubs employ coaches from their local ultimate community.
Until now, the big challenge we faced was connecting uni players with their opportunities to play away from, and after their time at university. Sadly we lose hundreds of players every year as they graduate. But now the university clubs face more immediate difficulties: the first term is likely to be very difficult as many of the usual systems for recruiting and retaining new players will be very different, or non-existent. Can you help? Strong connections between community and university clubs could make a huge difference this year.
Uni players generally form the core of our GB U24 squads. At the start of 2020 we were trying to set up a permanent U24 "GB Futures" programme, with training squads to be based at 5-6 regional hubs to give more players an accessible opportunity to receive more coaching at a consistent higher level. For the time being, this plan is inevitably on hold, but it is important and something we want to put in place as quickly as possible when conditions allow.