An Open Letter to The University of Leeds, from the Student Athlete:

Sports clubs across the University are demanding change over lecture recording policy on match days. Polly Brooks, LUU Women’s Lacrosse Club’s 1st Team Captain, has led the movement in an Open Letter to the
University asking for a reasonable solution to a common problem.

The value of participation in sport at university is widely acknowledged. 94 per cent of employers identify a clear link between university sport participation and valuable skills and strengths in potential employees. “Involvement in sport makes a real, measurable and positive impact not just on the student experience, but also on life beyond higher education” (Simon Shibli, Co-director of the Sport Industry Research Centre). Further, the average graduate who plays sport while studying earns £5,824 (18 per cent) more than those who do not. The University of Leeds acknowledges this value and actively seeks to provide “one of the best sporting experiences in the UK.”

Despite this, balancing Wednesday sport and Wednesday lectures is notoriously hard. Games (Home and Away) are scheduled on Wednesday afternoons and often start around 1pm. A 12pm warm-up for a 1pm start anywhere apart from Leeds therefore eliminates the possibility of student athlete attendance at Wednesday morning lectures. 

Often, I’ve heard my peers advocate the abolition of Wednesday lectures entirely, in favour of a Wednesday that focuses on sport. With an offering of 138 subjects and the scheduling of 31,906 students, I recognise and appreciate the logistical impracticality of this. 

A simpler solution is already accessible: Lecture Capture. The University of Leeds has invested over £2 million in “one of the largest [lecture capture systems] in Europe.” In order to provide a flexible and personalised approach to learning, over 50,000 hours of teaching activity are recorded every year. 

A commitment to ensure that only recorded lectures are scheduled for Wednesday mornings would extend this flexibility to student athletes. Those who wish to represent the university on a Wednesday afternoon should not find themselves academically disadvantaged for doing so – especially when such a straightforward solution is readily available. 

On behalf of our teams and societies, my peers and I therefore urge you to support your sports players by considering a policy whereby only recorded lectures are scheduled for Wednesday mornings. 


Polly Brooks,

Women’s Lacrosse: 1st Team Captain

The letter has amassed support from:

Ellie Richards

Women’s Football: Treasurer

Lucy Ridler

Women’s Rugby Union: Club Capt.

Rosie Blount

Women’s Football: 1st Team Capt. 

Amy Hunt

Women’s Football Secretary

Holly Bartleet

Women’s Football: Development Coordinator

Alexandra Clark

Women’s Rugby Union: Sponsorship Secretary

Evelyn Cox

Women’s Rugby Union Social Secretary

Will Dowie

Football: 2nd Team Capt. & Communications Secretary 

Jack Stirland

Men’s Football: Club Capt.

Beth Jones

Women’s Lacrosse: Club Capt.

Harry Brown

Men’s Football: 1st Team Capt.

James Tooby

Men’s Football: Secretary

Rory Thompson

Tennis: President & 1st Team Capt.

Barney Connaughton

Tennis: 1st Team Capt.

Pippa Scotcher

Tennis: 2nd Team Capt.

Bea Simmons

Women’s Lacrosse: Treasurer

Robyn Wrigley

Women’s Football: 2nd Team Capt.

Will Mckeown

American Football: Club Capt.

Kasey Butler

Women’s Hockey: Club Capt.

Matthew Welch

Men’s Football Treasurer

When LUU Tennis Club members were asked why they miss Wednesday match fixtures, almost 61% said it was due to timetable clashes or not wanting to miss contact hours.

Why is this such a problem?

“Due to the effects of the Wednesday timetables not corresponding with university sport, Men’s Association Football have had multiple performance members drop out of playing altogether. Across all four squads this number is even larger, with many having to occasionally miss key games.” – Jack Stirland, Men’s Football: Club Capt.

“Several players within lacrosse have missed out due to lectures on Wednesdays, thus this affects squad performance. It’s unfair for players to train every week and then miss out on matches. Sport offers students a well rounded uni experience but this can be hindered by lectures on a Wednesday.” – Beth Jones, Women’s Lacross: Club Captain

“This is absolutely vital to allow students to compete for the uni and more importantly keep up their academics. It has inevitably caused gifted footballers, especially this year, to have to say that they can’t offer such commitment because they are unable to miss such important lectures so to have them recorded would see improvements in not just the academic side but also the sporting side of the uni as well.” – Will Dowie, Men’s Football: Team Capt. & Communications Secretary

“I struggle weekly with balancing sporting and academic commitments, and I am aware that this is an issue for many others within my society. We have had members drop out this year as a result of this problem, which has been an issue for us as a club. This worries me, as I believe that the beneficial impact of participating in sport on mental and physical health is important for academic success and social wellbeing. With such a simple solution at hand I urge the university to consider this proposal, which would not only help current student athletes but may also encourage more participation in sport across the university as a whole.” – Bea Simmons, Women’s Lacrosse: Treasurer

“We lose players every week due to lectures and practical sessions, who eventually end up stopping altogether.” – James Tooby, Men’s Football: Secretary

If you are in agreement with this open letter, sign Polly’s petition here.

Image courtesy of LUU Women’s Lacrosse Club.