health & active lifestyle
Interview with Fernando Parente, Executive Committee Member, FISU
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In a nutshell, could you describe the International University Sports Federation (FISU) Healthy Campus project?
The FISU Healthy Campus project is an initiative that aims to enhance students’ well-being in all aspects. FISU’s objective with this project is to establish an interdisciplinary system dedicated to well- being, a healthy lifestyle and awareness among students regarding these aspects.
This project also allows universities to share their knowledge internally and with other participating universities using common references.
Healthy Campus represents a huge opportunity to raise awareness of a healthy lifestyle among the 180 million students who are the leaders of tomorrow. The proposed transversal system will allow the exchange of knowledge between universities but also the creation of new links between students around the world and within their universities.
Healthy Campus rewards universities that encourage a healthy way of life on their campuses. Those that promote healthy living for their students receive a special label. The FISU Healthy Campus project aims to provide universities worldwide with systematic guidelines and toolkits to ensure the well-being and healthy lifestyle of their students.
What does a label and a common set of references bring to universities?
The pathbreaking ‘FISU Healthy Campus Label’ will be awarded to universities around the globe, to acknowledge their efforts in improving the health of their students and the quality of life on their campuses. Towards this goal, FISU is developing criteria and standards for awarding this label, in close consultation with seven pilot universities.
A label creates emulation among universities and campuses and encourages sharing best practices and innovative experiences on the basis of comparable impact results.
What is the interest for the FISU to launch and support such a project?
The International University Sport Federation does not only take care of institutionalised or structured sports within our members, the National Universities Sports Federations and Universities. It is also concerned with improving physical activity and sport practice as an essential dimension of students’ well-being on campuses.
The article 2 of our consitution clearly mentions that FISU has a mission to act:
• for the health and well-being of students
• for fair play
• against any forms of discrimination, racism, violence, corruption, cheating and doping in sport.
FISU has to take care of the health of all those students who do not participate in competitive sports also. It is a fact that a huge number of students are inactive or not active enough. It is for this reason that FISU is launching the Healthy Campus project, as it will provide opportunities to all students to participate in recreational sport and physical activity. The universities will be provided the tools through which they will implement and manage this project.
Healthy Campus is a global project and FISU would like universities to embed health into all aspects of campus culture and provide solutions to improve students’ lifestyles.
The six domains of actions and activities integrated within the project go beyond sport and aim at involving the largest number of students and being as most comprehensive as possible. In addition the first domain, the project also includes:
• disease prevention
• mental and social health
• risk behaviour
• environment, sustainability and social responsibility.
What are the universities involved in the pilot phase and what are their motivations?
Seven universities from the five continents have joined the pilot phase. Diversity of models is key in this phase to ensure all contexts and situations are reviewed and to be able to define the best indicators and tools required.
The seven universities are:
• University of Johannesburg, South Africa
• University of Lausanne, Switzerland National University of La Matanza, • Argentina
• Peking University, PR China
• RUDN University, Russian Federation;
• University of Torino, Italy
• University of Western Australia, Australia.
Participating universities have already expressed their satisfaction to work alongside FISU on this pilot project. They consider that it has stimulated many positive interactions on campuses between colleagues and opened up communication and awareness among all the areas of the universities that have a role to play in providing a healthy campus. Teachers and other professionals involved in the project are pleased to see that their university has a positive approach in some of the identified areas and equally have also been able to see opportunity for improvement or attention in other
The implementation of Healthy Campus brings many assets to universities as project leaders have reported. They can evaluate and improve the quality of life of their community, contributing to the well- being of their students teachers and staff. In addition, the Healthy Campus label will give their institution international visibility and allow them to continue on the path of excellence.
For universities, the real value is in bringing various areas of the university onto the same page. Then, universities can collaborate on improved outcomes and avoid duplication of work. The international university network that will create an information flow and sharing platform, will be invaluable for continued and constant improvement from a campus level.
What is the “platform” used for?
In parallel with this work, the universities participating in the pilot phase of the project are also invited to test the platform that will be used to follow up on universities in the implementation of the standard’s criteria.
The purpose of the platform is to communicate with universities, to share content with them and also to know where the university stands in integrating the standard’s criteria on its campus. As the university meets the requirements of the standard, it will have to announce it on the platform and provide evidence of its activities. Then, the FISU team in charge of project coordination will check these elements and validate the criteria or not.The platform allows following the progress of each university. This will provide information on the areas that are covered and those where improvement is possible.
In the medium/long-term, the aim is to create exchanges of good practices between universities, and the FISU Healthy Campus platform is a crucial starting point to achieve this.
What is the pace of the project?
FISU’s ambitious and extensive Healthy Campus project kicked off in earnest in May 2019. The project is making positive progress and is very well received by the pilot universities, which are working in an exemplary way to achieve the set of objectives.
Between April and September 2019, FISU visited all the pilot universities to create a first official link with the institutional leaders and to start working with the team in charge of the project within each university.
Since the beginning of September, the seven universities participating in the development of the project have been very much involved and their commitment and experience has brought many positive elements to the project
At the moment, the coordination committee of Healthy Campus Project at FISU is in the process of writing the full version of the standard with input from the pilot universities.
What are the next steps?
The first final draft of the Healthy Campus standard will be finalised in November. Then it will be sent to an expert group for a first round of comments (30 international experts from all domains of Healthy Campus).
The next key step is the finalisation of the Healthy Campus standard in collaboration with universities and experts.
The launch of the Healthy Campus label for all the universities in the world is planned for May 2020.