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University of Coimbra earns FISU Healthy Campus certification

11 november, 2020
© UC | Marta Costa

The FISU Healthy Campus programme continues to gather momentum as its 6-month milestone comes up in a few days. Launched on 12 May 2020, the far-reaching programme already has 42 global universities, representing more than 30 countries and five continents, joining the multi-dimensional programme that aims to improve fitness and wellbeing among the global student community.

One of the first universities to have already achieved the level of certification is the University of Coimbra, Portugal, one of the oldest active universities in the world. Established 730 years ago in 1290, the University of Coimbra is on UNESCO’s World Heritage List.

“It is a matter of great pride for us to have an esteemed institution like the University of Coimbra not only join our programme but in fact, lead the way by earning one of the first certifications,” says Fernando Parente, FISU Director of Healthy Campus and University Relations. “The university’s students union is the oldest in Portugal and also one that has always been very actively involved in sports.”

In 2018, the University of Coimbra hosted the EUSA (European University Sports Association) European Universities Games. The university thus attaches great importance to sports, with well-developed programmes for dual career and more recently, ‘Sports for All’, which is a natural fit with the FISU Healthy Campus programme.

“The University of Coimbra places high value on the health and well-being of its community, a fact that can be confirmed, for example, with our 17th position in the Times Higher Education Impact Rankings for good health and well-being,” says Rector Professor Amílcar Falcão.

“The FISU Healthy Campus project reinforces the work already developed by us and enhances the transversality between the various sectors of the university,” adds Professor Falcão. “People are the most valuable resource at the University of Coimbra and their well-being is one of my personal commitments. In view of the current COVID-19 reality, people’s lives have changed drastically. Today, more than ever, this concern must be very present.”

As described by Professor Falcão, the Healthy Campus programme awards a multi-disciplinary approach towards health and wellbeing – one of the reasons the University of Coimbra has achieved certification rather quickly.

 “The University of Coimbra was one of the first 40 universities that joined the FISU Healthy Campus programme, with 79 criteria out of 100 approved,” explains Vice Rector Professor António Figueiredo. “The scope of Healthy Campus was very much in line with the areas in which the University of Coimbra has been investing more and more and this is reflected, naturally, as a direct result in the achievement of the project goals.”

“The University of Coimbra Strategic Plan for 2019-2023 reflects this investment,” continues Professor Figueiredo. “This guiding document integrates all the Healthy Campus performance standards, that’s why we joined the project and we believe that this participation will benefit our outcomes. Our involvement will also allow us to share knowledge and good practices with other higher education institutions from all around the world.”

One of the prime advantages for universities joining the FISU Healthy Campus programme is this exclusive opportunity to learn best practices from other universities globally, in addition to actively working towards the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

The University of Coimbra’s Sport Service Coordinator Mario Santos believes improving student participation is key to encouraging more all-round physical activity.

“A great example for us are the University of Coimbra Games,” says Santos. “This event is aimed at five target audiences; students, staff, alumni, university residence students and staff from UC’s partners.”

“Every year, surveys allow us to identify the needs of all these target groups and adjust the deliverables. This is one key factor for our success. Year after year, we are increasing the number of participants.”

The University of Coimbra has just added a further ‘stamp’ of success on their already impressive resumé having earned one of the first ever FISU Healthy Campus certifications.