The Free University of Brussels has been upgraded to the highest certification of platinum ©Twitter/VUBrussel

Five universities have been awarded with new levels of standing within the International University Sports Federation (FISU) Healthy Campus scheme.

This month, Belgium's Free University of Brussels reached the highest FISU Healthy Campus certification level of platinum.

The University of Aveiro is now on the third level with silver certification, while fellow Portuguese institute the Polytechnic Institute of Leiria and the University of Geneva in Switzerland have both received the second-level bronze certification.

And the University of Santiago, Chile has joined the list of certified universities after being awarded the initial FISU Healthy Campus certification.

So far more than 70 universities from 37 countries have joined the FISU Healthy Campus programme, which represents more than three million university students.

Among the 74 universities registered in the programme, 20 have already reached the certified group.

The FISU Healthy Campus programme rewards universities that enhance an active lifestyle and promote well-being and healthy choices on campuses.

Based on criteria developed by leading global experts, universities are evaluated across diverse domains such as physical activity and sport, nutrition, disease prevention and social responsibility.

"The FISU Healthy Campus programme encourages cohesion and coordination among all the departments and services of a campus," said Fernando Parente, director of FISU Healthy Campus and universities relations.

The University of Minho has been a trailblazer within the FISU Healthy Campus scheme ©University of Minho
The University of Minho has been a trailblazer within the FISU Healthy Campus scheme ©University of Minho

"In many situations it is difficult to develop common projects because of a complex structure or different locations.

"The programme promotes the cohesion of the university as one of its main objectives to mobilise collaboration from students, professors, researchers, staff and different stakeholders.

"Similarly to sport, it's a project where everyone ‘wears the same shirt’ and is united and coordinated to produce better results."

Meanwhile the University of Minho, which joined the programme in July 2020, has submitted a self-assessment of 92 criteria out of the 100 set by FISU Healthy Campus.

Rui Vieira de Castro, the Rector of the University of Minho in Portugal, explained: "The unit of Minho's social services has been organised and structured since 1996 and has embraced the FISU Healthy Campus programme and thus contributes to the well-being and quality of life of the members of the University.

"The sports department leading the certification process of the FISU Healthy Campus programme, includes areas such as sport and physical activity, mental and social health, nutrition, disease prevention, risk behaviours, environment, sustainability and social responsibility.

"We strongly believe that a student who experiences a better quality of life is a student who is more likely to achieve better academic and professional results in the future."

In 2019, the University of Minho was considered by the European Association of University Sports to be the best university of the decade and was also awarded the Medal of Sport Merit by the Portuguese Government for its work and development in the field of sport and physical activity.