SSI has a well developed and defined research programme and which significantly informs both the organisation’s and the wider sector’s programmes, policies and strategic policies. 

Listed below are some of SSI key research publications. All publications have been commissioned through funding contributions and grants received from SSI affiliated colleges, and Sport Ireland and Sport Northern Ireland (for SASSI 2016) respectively. 

The Value of Third Level Sport and Physical Activity Report (2022)

Value Report | Value Infographic

In September 2022 published an evidence based report on the value of sport and physical activity in supporting students’ physical activity and mental wellbeing. Commissioned by SSI and authored by Mary Immaculate College Postgraduate Researcher, Cillian Brennan, the paper found that third level sport and wellbeing has the potential to improve the physical and mental health of students, boosting recruitment and retention, while enhancing the student experience and that third level institutions can play a key societal role promoting health and wellbeing among students. The paper also found that investment in sport and physical activity from the third level sector continues to grow through investment in facilities, scholarships, staff, and services, while investment in facilities, resources and elite athletes supports the development of high performance student athletes across Ireland.

In terms of addressing the impact of the pandemic on the students, the paper proposed that engaging in physical activity and sports had the potential to mitigate (against) the effects of the impact and accompanying restrictions and ‘offset indirect consequences of COVID-19 on disease prevention and mental well-being’ and that providing students with opportunities to engage in sport and physical activity is now of greater importance on their return to on campus learning.

Self Assessment Review Report (2020)

SAR 2020 Report.

In September 2020 Student Sport Ireland published the second edition of the SAR Report, a self-assessment review undertaken by 17 third level institutions. The report outlines key information and data that support higher education sport staff in the planning, operation and future development of sport and physical activity in HE institutions across the island. The study was commissioned by SSI with the support of Sport Ireland to provide a description of the environment and provisions made by third level institutions to support student participation in sport and physical activity, and to provide a comparison of findings across the participating institutions. The research data was gathered via both an online evaluation document and face to face interviews with participating institutions sport staff.

Student Activity and Sports Study Ireland (SASSI)

SASSI Summary Report (2016) | SASSI Full Report | SASSI Infographic

In 2014 SSI commissioned, with the support of affiliated colleges, Sport Ireland and Sport Northern Ireland, the year long SASSI study to investigate sport and physical activity participation, preferences and provision at third level, and which surveyed over 9,000 students in 31 third level colleges north and south.

The landmark study, at the time one of the largest such studies undertaken in Europe, was undertaken by a consortium of researchers from Ulster University, Dublin City University, University of Limerick and Waterford Institute of Technology lead by Prof. Marie Murphy (UU).

The study’s key findings were (that in 2015):

  • 64% of students were highly active and are more active than the general population across comparable age groups;
  • Only 40% of students actively commute to college by walking or cycling
  • Male students were more active than female students with 71% of male students being highly active compared to 58% of females
  • 1 in 7 students were members of a sports club
  • The top 5 participation sports in and out of college are Exercise (i.e. cardio classes, weight training, circuit training and exercise to music), Gaelic Football, Soccer, Running and Walking
  • Social influence was the main determinant of participation within colleges with the odds of participation 57% lower if a student felt that s/he ‘did not have anyone to do physical activity with’
    6,700 scholarships were awarded between 2009 to 2013
  • Colleges spend approximately €11m per annum in current investment in sport and physical activity
  • Colleges expect to invest €50m from 2015 to 2019 in capital spending on sport