British Universities' Sports Association Records

Scope and Content

Incorporating the records of the Universities Athletics Union, the Women's Inter-'Varsity Athletics Board, the Dominion Students Athletics Union, the British Universities Sports Federation, the British Students Sports Federation, the British Polytechnics Sports Association, and the British Colleges Sports Association, and including records of British students' participation in international competition.

Administrative / Biographical History

The complex structure of the administration of student sport in Britain, which these records reflect, has been greatly influenced by the development of higher education itself, with the original dominance of the Universities, and the later development of Colleges of Higher Education and Polytechnics. All of these institutions formed umbrella bodies which organised their own championships: the Universities had the University Athletics Union (D741/B), and the Polytechnics and Colleges of Higher Education were represented by the British Polytechnics Sports Association (D741/G) and the British Colleges Sports Association (D741/H) respectively. The picture grows increasingly complicated with British student participation in international competition. Two bodies developed in order to represent British interests abroad, firstly, the British Universities Sports Federation (D741/E), and, when it was felt that students from institutions other than Universities should have the opportunity to represent Britain, the British Students Sports Federation (D741/F). The family tree (next page) makes the relationship between these organisations clear. An added complication arises from the fact that to begin with the activities of the UAU were restricted to male students, and so women had to form their own representative body, the Women's Inter-'Varsity Sports Board (D741/C). Further information about these organisations can be found in the introduction to the relevant sections.

During the early 1980s, the funding of higher education by central government was increasingly under threat, and in the face of these difficulties, the various student sporting bodies saw the importance of co-operation. Talks were held, and by 1992, it was decided that a unified body representing and organising student sport was a necessity. It was proposed that by 1995 the UAU and the BUSF should amalgamate to form the British Universities Sports Association (D741/A). All institutions of higher education are eligible for election to membership of this body, and as a result both the British Polytechnics Sports Association and the British Colleges Sports Association were dissolved, and applied for membership with BUSA. The upgrading of Polytechnics and Colleges of Higher Education to University status precipitated this decision, because the BPSA and BCSA logically became redundant. This complex administrative history has led to the records of these various predecessor organisations being listed together under the title of the current organisation - BUSA.

Arrangement of these records has been complicated by the fact that although separate, these organisations, over the years, shared offices, administrative staff, general secretaries, and worked closely together. For example, from September 1990, the BPSA, the BCSA, BSSF and BUSF shared premises in Birmingham, and before that, the BUSF, the BSSF and UAU shared offices in Woburn Square in London. As a result, it has often been impossible to separate the files of the different organisations. This is especially the case in relation to international competition, where, over the years, various organisations have been responsible for the administration of British representation at World Student Games and other international events. This will be explained further in the head notes for the relevant sections, but it is important to point out that this is the reason why 'International Competition' forms a separate section on the list, rather than splitting the information between the sections relating to the relevant organisations.

In June 2008 BUSA and UCS (University College Sport) were brought together to form British Universities & Colleges Sport (BUCS) the new, national voice for university sport.

See the British Universities & Colleges Sport (BUCS) website for additional information.


Arranged into the following sections:

  • D741/A  British Universities Sports Association, 1994-1997
  • D741/B  Universities' Athletics Union (incorporating the Inter- 'Varsity Athletics Board), 1919-1994
  • D741/C  The Women's Inter-'Varsity Athletics Board, 1923-1979
  • D741/D  The Dominion Students Athletics Union, 1925-1948
  • D741/E  The British Universities Sports Federation, 1955-1994
  • D741/F  The British Students Sports Federation, 1971-1995
  • D741/G  The British Polytechnics Sports Association, 1969-1993
  • D741/H  The British Colleges Sports Association, 1970-1993
  • D741/J  International competition (including papers relating to the World Student Games and FISU), 1928-1994

Access Information

Access is open to bona fide researchers unless otherwise stated.

Acquisition Information

Deposited by David Rogers, accounts manager, British Universities Sports Association, July 10, 1997. This deposit, which included further records of the Universities Athletics Union, has been amalgamated with a previous deposit from the UAU, which was originally accessioned as D.528. J3/4, J8/23 and HS/22 deposited by Harry Mawdsley, Manchester Metropolitan University, formerly of BCSA, on 28 April 1998. A2/2-3, A3/1-37, E8/10-14, F1/6-35, F5/8a and b, F5/10a and b, and F5/22a were deposited by Charlotte Tangye, British Universities Sports Association, 6 October 1998.


Common Abbreviations

  • AAA  The Amateur Athletics Association
  • BSSF  British Student's Sports Federation
  • BUSA  British Universities' Sports Association
  • BUSB  British Universities' Sports Board
  • BUSF  British Universities' Sports Federation
  • CCPR  The Council for Physical Recreation
  • CESCU  The European Commission of Student Sport and Culture
  • CIE  Confederation Internationale des Etudiants
  • DES  The Department of Education and Science
  • FISU  Fedération Internationale du Sport Universitaire
  • IUS  The International Union of Students
  • IVAB  Inter-Varsity Athletics Board
  • NUS  The National Union of Students
  • UAU  Universities' Athletics Union
  • WIVAB  Women's Inter-Varsity Athletics Board

Other Finding Aids

A finding aid is available for consultation in the reading room.

Archivist's Note

Listed by Alison Burdon August 1997, with later additions listed by other staff. Edited and converted into EAD 2002 by Roy Lumb using Xemacs Open Source Text Editor in 2007-2008

Conditions Governing Use

Reproduction and licensing rules available on request


It is anticipated that there will be additional accruals.