The Newcastle Knights have completed their education partnership plan by launching the Graduates of League program with the University of Newcastle (UON) on Wednesday.
Having launched an agreement with Hunter TAFE in early 2014, the new partnership with the University allows players/students to have access to seamless support and cooperation between the Football Club and Tertiary Education provider of certificates through to master degrees.
“As an Elite Athlete Friendly University, UONhas a proven track record of supporting athletes to excel both academically and in their chosen sport. Former Newcastle Knights players including CEO Matt Gidley and Mark Sargeant are graduates of UON,” said Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Academic) Professor Andrew Parfitt.
“Currently we have 11 Newcastle Knights players representing all three leagues (National Rugby League , National Youth Competition and S.G. Ball Cup) active in programs at UON including Robbie Rochow and Alex McKinnon.”
“We are delighted to partner with the Newcastle Knights in this important investment in their players future.”
Area of study at UON for present Knights players includes physiotherapy, civil engineering, Bachelor of Arts and construction management.
"We are pleased to be joining with the University of Newcastle and implementing the Graduates of League program," CEO Matt Gidley said.
"We have arrangements with Hunter Sports High School and Hunter TAFE, so announcing our formal arrangement with the University completes our Club's holistic approach to education."
The Graduates of League (GOL) Program was established at the University of Wollongong (UOW) in 2012 to increase university entry, retention and completion rates of elite athletes and professional sports people.
Since 2012 the program has been implemented into 16 academic institutions including Griffith University, University of Canberra, James Cook University, Auckland University of Technology as well as the University of Newcastle
“Since 2008 we have tripled academic enrolments for Rugby League players with more than 220 players,” NRL Education and Welfare Manager, Paul Heptonstall said.
“Seventy five of these players are currently playing in the NRL , while 145 or 25 per cent of the players in the NYC are attempting a degree program.”
The GOL program is specifically aimed at providing additional peer tuition for these players to ensure they can meet the demands of choosing their professional Rugby League aspirations at the same time as achieving a University qualification.