Amsterdam University of Applied Sciences

AUAS awarded EU tender for elite sports and education

18 Dec 2014 14:11

Elite athletes from all over Europe need to be able to successfully combine their studies or work with their careers in sports (dual careers). This ambition has received special attention from the European Commission. The Commission is therefore awarding a €200,000 grant to the Amsterdam University of Applied Sciences (AUAS) for the coming year to develop the guidelines with which European countries can further implement the combination of elite sports and education/employment.

AUAS Professor of Elite Sports and Education Cees Vervoorn and his colleagues Marije Baart de la Faille (Professor of Power of Sport) and Dennis van Vlaanderen (Manager of Topsport Academie Amsterdam), responded to the European Commission’s invitation to tender for research into dual careers.


Cees Vervoorn: “By awarding this tender, Europe has shown that it has a lot of confidence in how the combination of elite sports and education is organised in Amsterdam. We have been designated as the group of experts to further this development in the rest of Europe.”


Exemplary function for Europe

The Netherlands is leading the way in Europe in terms of the educational options available to elite athletes. The Topsport Academie Amsterdam (Elite Sports Academy Amsterdam) was recently established at the AUAS, enabling elite athletes to flexibly attend any programme at the AUAS alongside their careers in sports.


In the Netherlands, elite sports are concentrated in a number of places, as a result of which the athletic world and education are in harmony with each other. The European Commission has designated the right to education for elite athletes a priority until 2017, as this combination is not yet possible in many parts of Europe.


Dennis van Vlaanderen, Manager of the Topsport Academie Amsterdam, provides a number of examples: “In Belgium, for instance, although the education system is well organised, there is not enough stimulation of elite sports, as a result of which the country has relatively few elite athletes. In Eastern Europe, on the other hand, there is a strong emphasis on elite sports, but little attention for education alongside them. It is high time that elite athletes in Europe are given the opportunity to combine sports and education. It is not uncommon for an elite athlete to have four gold medals around his or her neck, yet be left empty-handed, without a diploma, at the age of thirty.”


The research proposal

The Amsterdam University of Applied Sciences is going to start working on the plan in January. The researchers will start by identifying how the situation is arranged in different European countries. They will then draw up an outline of the minimum requirements that must be met in order to facilitate the combination of elite sports and education in a country. Depending on the country, different roles will be described for the athletic world, the professional field, education and the government.