Conference: British Association of Sport and Exercise Sciences (BASES) Student Conference 2019
Dates: 17-18 April 2019
Venue: Dalhousie Building, University of Dundee and Apex City Quay Hotel & Spa
Attendance: 225 UK Delegates, contributing over £232,000 to the local economy over 2 days
Conference Organisers: Dr Audrey Duncan, Assistant Director, Institute of Sport and Exercise, University of Dundee & Dr Ashley Richardson, Lecturer, Abertay University
Conference website: CLICK HERE
Images: CLICK HERE
Sport and Exercise Science – Transforming Lives
“We strongly believe that our profession can, and should, transform lives.”
It was this transformational approach to sport and exercise science from academics in Dundee that brought a flagship event of the British Association of Sport and Exercise Sciences to the region.
Running annually for the last 20 years, the BASES Student Conference had only once before been held in Scotland. But a collaborative bid from the University of Dundee and Abertay University allowed the region to showcase the innovations made in the field.
Bringing together hundreds of students, along with academic and leading industry professionals, the conference allowed new ideas in sport and exercise science to be shared, debated and discussed in an effort to foster development and inspire innovators and educators of the future.
Dr Audrey Duncan, co-chair of the BASES Student Conference 2019, said: “We have always been integrally involved with BASES at the University of Dundee and have often sent students to the conference to present their work. We knew the real value of the conference, and our interest was piqued to have an opportunity to bring this conference to Dundee and to raise the wider profile of the city and our – and the profession’s – work in this field.
“Complementing this, Abertay University has a large and active undergraduate sport and exercise science department, so it seemed obvious that a joint bid would allow Dundee as a whole the opportunity to attract such a significant event to the city.”
While other BASES conferences are organised by external organisations, the student conference is still organised internally by universities across the country – giving the Dundee team the opportunity to shape the conference in a way they believed would give delegates the best experience.
Featuring keynote speeches, structured debates, discussion sessions, free communication and poster displays, the conference allowed students and academics alike the chance to network, present, and explore new developments in sport and exercise science.
Co-chair Dr Ashley Richardson, from Abertay University, added: “One of the big things that we put in our bid is that we wanted students to come away inspired and engaged about their profession; and for the sessions to complement, not duplicate their undergraduate programme.
“While a student conference, we aimed from the outset to create a professional conference atmosphere. But it was just as important for us was to get the social side right as well as the main conference agenda, so we held a civic reception and a conference dinner on the first evening. After the dinner we held a ceilidh which was a fantastic success even with 75-80% of our delegates being English and many having never experienced anything like it before.
“Next year’s organising committee has said that we’ve set the bar high for them.”
Home to two universities producing world-leading research in sport and exercise science, Dundee was an obvious choice for the BASES Student Conference.
The University of Dundee has previously held the title of first in the UK for biological sciences, and its teaching programme is renowned in the academic community. The university regularly tops the list of Scottish universities and is widely hailed for its innovative approach.
Similarly, Abertay University’s Division of Sport and Exercise Sciences offers the most extensive portfolio of sport programmes in Scotland. The institution has been named the top modern university in Scotland, and places highly in rankings for sport and exercise science learning.
The universities’ expertise and reputation allowed new research and innovation to be at the forefront of the conference agenda.
But it was not only local knowledge that led Dundee to be the perfect choice for the conference – it was also down to the city’s fantastic infrastructure and resources.
Dr Duncan said: “The venue also really played to our favour. The Dalhousie Building is a teaching building, which means it’s ideally equipped for a conference with keynotes and breakout sessions. It’s also got an open foyer, which allowed us to have a great social area.
“Throughout the event, the atmosphere was fantastic. Coming straight into the foyer meant that it became a hub that people came back to, allowing delegates to network with their peers, academics and potential future employers. The exhibitors also appreciated being in the same room as the refreshments and the poster sessions.
“Dundee itself was also a huge draw to delegates, many of whom hadn’t visited the city before. Featuring in high profile publications like National Geographic’s Cool List for 2019, the publicity surrounding the new V&A Dundee, and the city’s easy accessibility by rail, road and air all made it a very attractive destination.”
Another deciding factor was the support offered by Dundee City Region Convention Bureau (DCRCB) throughout the whole process. Dr Richardson said: “DcRCB was incredibly helpful and their support put us in a very strong position with the selection committee noting the unique strength of the close involvement of the bureau.
“They saved us a lot of time, and undoubtedly enhanced our bid and delivery, by helping us with financial planning; developing our communications strategy – both with delegates and on social media; and planning our project timeline.
“The team at DCRCB has a great insight into what makes a positive delegate experience – from assisting with transport and rooms, to making introductions to the perfect suppliers and venues. The whole team is very accessible and very well connected across the region; they were there for us at every stage and we are incredibly grateful for their involvement and sharing of expertise.”
Beyond the Conference
As a student conference, one eye was firmly fixed on current research with the other focusing on the future of the sports and exercise science industry.
Inspiring and motivating delegates to go forward and innovate in the field was a huge part of the conference organisers’ aims, and over half of delegates have since gone on to state that they will be collaborating on new projects with contacts made at the event.
Giving many students their first taste of a professional academic conference, it allowed them the chance to build and nurture their networking and presentational skills, whilst hearing from some of the country’s leading experts.
And on top of this, the conference has pushed the city of Dundee to the fore. Dr Duncan explained: “The BASES Student Conference has really helped elevate the profile of Dundee as a centre for excellence in sport and exercise science. Both universities already had a strong reputation in the field, but the conference has allowed us to bring that to an even wider audience.
“It’s been fantastic not just for the universities and academics as individuals, but also for the city as a whole to be recognised as a hub of innovation and development where new techniques and research are constantly pushing the boundaries of our knowledge.”
Feedback in statistics…
97% rated the BASES Student Conference as very good or good.
94% would recommend Dundee and Angus to colleagues as a conference destination.
53% stated they will collaborate with new contacts following the conference.
…and in comments
“This is one of the best organised conferences I have attended. Huge credit is deserved for the team.”
“A fantastic destination full of friendly helpful people - I highly recommend Dundee and Scotland as a whole.”
“It allowed me to connect with people I had previously only read/heard about. The invited speakers were very relevant to the respective sessions and meant we got a chance to talk to experts in every field. Room sizes etc. were perfect to feel personal and not too intimidating to ask questions etc.”
“Everything was done easily and organised well.”
“Certainly, the best student conference we have ever exhibited at. The whole flow of the 2 days shows the benefits of having a main hall and breakout rooms in close proximity.”
“Discussion of research interests/projects with other academics might foster collaborations”
“The space was excellent; it was easy to find the locations and the displays.”
“Fantastic and varied representation.”
“The sprint interval training keynote was very relevant to a lot of poster and free communication presentations. The keynote was informative and engaging and made me evaluate the way I look at literature from a statistical point of view.”
“Breakout workshops were in depth and promoted sharing ideas.”
“First conference experience - it will all be memorable, specifically the dancing with the evening meal.”
“The Free Communication Presentations were an excellent opportunity to develop my presentation skills. The question period was especially insightful on how to approach my future research projects.”
“A good opportunity to meet people in the field I wish to be employed in in the future.”
“This was the first conference where I have presented my research. Now that I've broken the ice, I'm excited to get involved in more conferences.”