Are you thinking about getting more involved in the sports teams your university has to offer? Many students from all over the UK do and these are the sports they choose to compete in. Continue reading to see our list of the most popular university sports in the UK!

What is BCUS?

BCUS is the nation’s leading organisation that brings uni sports teams in the UK together to compete for championship titles. The name stands for British Universities & Colleges Sport. There are 170 unis that compete at BCUS competitions, and it is a widely recognised organisation that many students are eager to work with.

BUCS gives out ‘University BUCS Points’ to each university that competes in a sporting event. The higher a team or athlete place in the competition the more points their uni receives. BCUS also keeps track of all the university point totals. Click here to view them!


surfing, popular university sports
Source: Pexels

Surfing is a surprisingly popular sport amongst UK uni students, despite our weather! There are over 350 students that attend the BCUS surfing championships each year.

BUCS hold an annual surfing competition in Newquay in Cornwall. The last recorded winners of this were Swansea University. The competition also runs for a weekend. This year it is being held in October from the 8th-10th.

Surfers can hire surfboards and wetsuits from BUCS. You can view their prices here! After each competition there is also a scheduled beach clean-up to ensure the area is left in good condition!


Equestrian, or horse riding, is another sport popular with students.

The competition held by BCUS tests student riders to show their skills in events such as dressage and show jumping. The scores of each event are added to create each rider’s final score. There are three competitions including mini-leagues, regional rounds, and national finals. Competitors need to win one to progress to the next.

BUCS provide students with a horse to ride. However, if you have your own you can always bring your horse! Over 160 teams attend this competition.

Exeter University were the winners of the last BUCS Equestrian championships in 2019. They have three competitive BUCS teams and two ‘friendlies teams’. This means they have teams for all abilities!


Badminton, popular university sports
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The BUCS Badminton Championships attract over 300 teams each year. This means, over 700 students compete each Wednesday of the season.

The players compete until ‘Big BUCS Wednesday’ which decides the overall winner. The last University to win this championship was Loughborough University, winning 417 Uni BUCS points in 2019.

Ashway also sponsors the BUCS Badminton programme.


netball, popular university sports
Source: Pexels

Netball is another of the UK’s most popular sports amongst Uni students. Over 400 teams attend the BUCS Netball championships each year. This means there are over 2,800 students attending this event each year.

The pervious champions of this event are the University of Bath, scoring 263 BUCS points in 2019.

BUCS have partners with the firm EY. Through this partnership they offer BUCS students the chance to apply for ’employability programmes’. These ‘fast-track’ the eligible students for internships and graduate roles available at EY.

American Football

Popular university sports, American football
Source: Pexels

American Football has become increasingly popular amongst Uni students in recent years. The recently established BUCS American Football championship attracts around 4,230 students each year.

This sport helps to give any American students studying in the UK a sense of familiarity to their home country.

The winners of the 2019 UK American Football championships were Leeds Beckett University. They scored 92 BUCS points in the 2018-19 season.

The sport is growing in popularity in the UK, and we are sure to see a rise in the number of competitors at these events.


popular university sports, athletics
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The BUCS Athletics championship is a popular event. The competition combines multiple different skill sets, which attracts a variety of students with different abilities and strengths.

The competition runs five different events. These include cross country, indoor athletics, outdoor athletics, and combined events. The event attracts over 5,000 competitors over all these events!

Loughborough University are currently the reigning champions of this event. They have won 60 of the last 65 BUCS championships across both male and female categories. Loughborough also has a fantastic para-athletics programme. Within this programme there are four Olympic medalists involved!


football popular university sports in the UK

With over 500 teams competing in the BUCS Football Championships, Football is one of the UK’s most played sports by uni and college students.

Football is the UK’s most popular sport, so it is no surprise that this sport is loved amongst students too.

Loughborough University are the title holders of the last Football BUCS Championships in 2019. They are the UK’s most successful university football team. You can view their twitter page here!

BUCS also offer a ‘women’s leadership programme’. They are currently recruiting applicants to be a part of their ‘Gender Equality project’ that is tailored to the sport.


popular university sports, swimming
Source: Pexels

Swimming is the most played sport amongst uni students according to the attendees at The Speedo and BUCS Swimming Series. There are approximately 6,000 students attending this event each year! There are usually 5,000 students competing for the long course champion title and 1,000 for the short course.

Speedo sponsor this event to create the best event possible for student swimmers.

The current champions of this event are once again, Loughborough University. Loughborough University, The University of Bath and Swansea University are all recommended unis for swimmers.

Loughborough University have a 50m pool for their swimming performance programme and some of the world’s greatest swimmers train there.

These are the UK’s most popular university sports! BUCS is a great programme for student sporting competitions. Think about signing up today for your chance to win one of the UK’s most competitive competitions in your chosen sport.

If you are really passionate about sports, check out our list of the 5 best Sports Apprenticeships in the UK.