Disrupting higher education with football

Ray Boggiano is Assistant Head of Global Marketing and Communications at UCFB – University Campus of Football Business. The organisation delivers university degrees in the football and sport industry with campuses based in and around Wembley Stadium and the Etihad Stadium in Manchester. They also do degrees online.

Tell us the story at the heart of the business?

We were actually set up in Burnley, in 2011. The first campus was at Turf Moor because our cofounder, chairman and chief executive is Brendan Flood, director at Burnley Football Club. He saw a need for a more professional workforce, more industry-relevant skills within the sports industry, and also the opportunity to use stadium space beyond match day.

"If you’ve got a passion for an industry and you can work in it, then you’re winning from day one."

Why is there a need for a university that specialises in football?

It’s one of the fastest growing and largest industries, particularly the UK, but also worldwide. It has its own unique challenges, it’s a unique industry in itself, so there’s a need to train for the skills relevant to it. An organisation that specialises in university sport degrees, with campuses at the heart of the industry, had never been done before. Now, 90% of our graduates are in full-time work within six months and almost two thirds of them work in the sports industry.

What is it that really makes people want to come and study at UCFB?

If you’ve got a passion for an industry and you can work in it, then you’re winning from day one. That’s very motivating for people. The success of our graduates is what showcases UCFB best.

What’s your Manchester workspace like?

Our campuses are based in and around the stadiums, but as on organisation, we’re based in 111 Piccadilly, on the fourteenth floor .It’s an open plan office, with windows on all sides. There’s a view to the whole of Manchester and, on a nice day, you can see the Peak District.

"We saw a need for a more professional workforce, more industry-relevant skills within the sports industry, and also the opportunity to use stadium space beyond match day."

How much does your workspace need to flex and adapt to accommodate your business?

We’re always growing, so there’s a growing need for desks and meeting spaces. We made sure we had a space that was scalable and would work long term. We have communal spaces that are very flexible, and rooms that can adapt.

How important is passion to success in the world of football?

I think it’s important in any industry really. If you enjoy what you do, you’ll take more care over it, put more time and thought into it. There’s probably more passion in sport than in most industries because it’s an industry that sparks emotion. To succeed, you need to have even more passion because there are so many other people with a passion for it.

How do you engage people that don’t want to kick a ball?

We show there’s a range of career prospects within sports, away from the pitch. Our degrees range from business management to coaching, media to events, so there’s a whole range of opportunities. Whether it’s a guest speaker or a graduate that’s gone on to forge an interesting career, just showing people’s stories is powerful.

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