STUDENTS at Buckinghamshire New University will have more chances to play sport thanks to nearly £100,000 of funding.

Bucks Students' Union (BSU) bid for the £96,723 National Lottery funding from Sport England's University Sport Activation Fund.

And the Wycombe-based university is one of 54 across the country to benefit from nearly £10 million of funding to encourage up to 180,000 new students to play sport.

BSU will use the money to expand its Sport for Fun package and offer a variety of alternative sports including kayaking, skiing and Zumba sessions.

The aim of Sport for Fun is to provide a varied programme and to engage and keep new individuals participating in recreational sport.

With many of the activities free and a strong emphasis on social and friendly sessions, it is hoped that barriers preventing students from taking part in sport will be broken down.

Mark Sweeney, vice president of student involvement elect at Bucks Students' Union, said: "It's fantastic to have such a vast array of sporting opportunities available for our students at Bucks.

"The recreational offer complements the competitive sports package really well and it's great that we can inspire more students to participate.

"The relaxed, social and inclusive nature of the Sport for Fun programme really means that there is something for everyone." Currently just over half (52 per cent) of higher education students take part in sport at least once a week.

The funding will support projects to not only maintain this, but also to increase it by trialling new methods of getting students into sport and offering a wider variety of opportunities to keep them playing.

The projects will particularly concentrate on those who do not currently play. It will also help tackle the issue of many young people giving up sport in their late teens and early twenties.

Sport England director of community sport, Mike Diaper, said: "We know universities play a vital role in maintaining and growing a student's love of sport. They can encourage them to continue playing once they've left school or help those less sporty discover a new sport.

“By investing in Bucks New University we're helping students develop a lifelong sporting habit while they study."

Karen Rothery, Chief Executive of British Universities & Colleges Sport (BUCS), said: "Universities have really risen to the challenge to increase sport participation, firstly through Active Universities, and now through the University Sport Activation Fund.

"We at BUCS are delighted that our work with Sport England over the past five years has resulted in such a success story and are confident that we will continue to enhance the student experience through sport in many creative ways throughout the life of the University Sport Activation Fund delivery."

The latest funding for university sport builds on Sport England's 'Active Universities' programme which saw a two-per-cent rise in the number of students playing sport regularly at the 41 university projects it ran.