Imperial students who paid for gym membership prior to the 1st September 2018 change in pricing structure have been offered a refund due to an error on Sport Imperial’s part.

Sport Imperial acknowledged and apologised for the mistake in an email sent out on 5th October inviting all students who were members prior to September 2018 to claim their full refund. Speaking to Felix, Will Hollyer, Head of Sport Imperial, said: “We’ve made a mistake, we want to hold our hands up and apologise. We thought we’d done the appropriate due diligence. The important thing from our side is, we’ve identified it and we’re taking steps to remedy it.”

Students for which this applies now face four options:

  1. Claim a full refund of £30 – students will continue to be able to use the gym and pool provided they previously held a membership.
  2. Do not claim a refund of £30 - this fee will contribute towards Sport Imperial’s plans to develop and improve opportunities for sport and physical activity at the College.
  3. Convert the £30 as credit for another Ethos service worth £30 or more - e.g. unlimited class pass, Active Imperial membership.
  4. Donate the £30 credit to the Sports Hub – a jointly-run service by Sport Imperial and Imperial College Union to support and develop student sports clubs. The donations will go into a general Sport Development fund that all sports clubs will be able to apply to.

The price increases, which saw students asked to pay an annual fee of £30 for access to the gym and pool at Ethos from 1st September 2018, were announced in June 2018, as part of Sport Imperial and Imperial College Union’s joint Sports strategy. However, following complaints from students and questions over the legality of such increases, it has since been found that the change in pricing structure violated the previous terms and conditions. For all members that joined Sport Imperial prior to September 2018, the terms and conditions stated that, following a one-off payment of £40, “gym and swim facilities would be free of charge to Imperial students for the duration of their time at the College”.

Concerns about the change in pricing structure were initially raised by a student accusing Sport Imperial of fraud, as reported by Felix in October 2018. Following internal and external counsel, Sport Imperial were advised to offer a full refund of the £30 annual membership to every student that had signed up for membership prior to the price change.

The sum of the refundable gym fees amounts to over £100,000 and the decision to offer students a refund was taken in December 2018. The refunds are expected to be processed within five working days.

James Medler, the Deputy President (Clubs & Societies) told Felix: “This is a really big step in the fact that the student voice has been really listened to and that’s going to result in probably a few thousand students getting their money back.”

This error in changing the membership was made “with the earnest ambition to improve sport for all at the College” and comes amidst a slew of positive changes to sport at Imperial. “At £30, we still wanted to make sure that it was affordable, accessible and appropriate,” commented Mr. Hollyer.

With all funds generated being directly reinvested in facility and service developments, improvements, such as the full replacement of gym equipment and refurbishment of Ethos, Charing Cross and Hammersmith gyms, have occurred and plans are underway for the expansion of Ethos gym (thanks to the President’s fund). Sport Imperial have also announced plans to introduce an app which will include activity tracking and a reward scheme designed to encourage physical activity, whilst also improving functionality for Ethos bookings.

Mr. Hollyer added: “What we don’t want is it to be the defining issue of the strategy when we’ve got loads of really exciting stuff. We’re just about to change effectively the whole way that sport is digested and consumed at university with the Sports Hub.”