The FISU World Conference officially began today ©FISU

The International University Sports Federation (FISU) World Conference opened here in Taipei today with a focus on healthy lifestyles and dual career programmes for athletes.

With four days of this year's Summer Universiade remaining, the FISU World Conference is running in parallel with competition.

Hosted by the University of Taipei, the Conference includes academics, experts and students all discussing the values of sport, its socio-economic benefits and the promotion of healthy campuses and active lifestyles.

"Yes, the 7,700 students who are here are very special to us," FISU President Oleg Matytsin said during the Opening Ceremony.

"But we must also consider the hundreds of millions of students who are not here at the Universiade.

"As a society, we need all of them to choose a healthy amount of sport and physical activity."

Following the opening of the Conference, a panel session looked at dual career programmes intended to prepare athletes for professional life after their retirement.

These programmes have become an important part of the International Olympic Committee (IOC) and International Paralympic Committee's work to support Olympians and Paralympians.

The IOC signed an agreement with Adecco in 2005 to develop the Athlete Career Programme.

An eight-year extension to the deal was signed in 2012 and more than 30,000 Olympians are claimed to have benefited from career development and job placement services.

NCAA President Mark Emmert spoke on the panel today ©Getty Images
NCAA President Mark Emmert spoke on the panel today ©Getty Images

To support dual career programmes, the IOC is understood to have also called on the resources of universities.

One of the annual research grants being awarded by the Olympic Studies Centre for 2017-2018 will go to a team of universities in Sweden, Spain, Belgium and The Netherlands.

They will look at training for dual career support providers.

The system of university and college scholarships for athletes used in the United States was highlighted by the Conference as a successful model.

However, National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) President Mark Emmert appeared on the panel and spoke about the struggle between being an elite athlete and studying for qualifications for a future career.

"We are constantly trying to help them find that balance and to force there to be time in the system to both," he said.

As part of its regime, the NCAA requires that students forego any status as professional athletes while at university, notably not receiving any payment beyond a scholarship that covers tuition and minimal living expenses.

In recent years, however, comparisons have increasingly been drawn between American student athletes and their coaches, many of whom are on multi-million dollar contracts thanks to the NCAA's development of commercial relationships for tournaments.

The Conference started on day eight of competition here at Taipei 2017.

You can follow our Live Blog of today's action here.