Most people have some assumptions when it comes to uni, whether they have friends or family who have been before or not. And a lot of those will inevitably revolve around drinking.
Bargain basement uni bars, student clubbing nights with shots for £1, boozy society initiations, house/halls parties galore. It might seem like that’s all there is to the whole degree-earning business.
Turns out, a whopping 79% of students are under the impression that ‘getting drunk is part of university culture’. Seems pretty inescapable.
And although that’s not really true, and it’s perfectly doable to get through your uni years teetotal if that’s what floats your boat, the tide really does seem to be changing on the booze culture.
The Independent have reported this month that the University of Portsmouth’s student union are closing down their bar just days before Fresher’s Week begins, and repurposing it to fit student needs.
From October 2019, thanks to a sharp fall in demand for alcohol with sales down 20% year on year since 2015, The Waterhole bar will be turned into ‘a social space with street food, a coffee shop, microwaves and “comfy furniture”.
And the decision makes sense. Back in 2018, a study conducted by the National Union of Students (NUS) found that 1 in 5 uni students were completely alcohol-free and non-partiers, which the union puts down largely to increasing financial stress and the pressure to perform well academically.
Unis involved in the study however are pinning the change in habits to ‘increased awareness of health and a wider diversity of faiths … and a rise in technology that has provided an alternative source of entertainment to students’.
Whatever the reasons, the NUS study found that ‘almost a quarter of students believe there should be more social events at university that do not involve any drinking’, and now unis are finally starting to catch up.
But not all of them are jumping happily onto the non-alcoholic bandwagon. Because, as we always love to remind you, no two unis are the same.
So if teetotal is your thing, make sure you’ve done your research when choosing your uni.
Visit the campus to get a feel for things. Check Facebook groups for society activities and events to see how heavily alcohol features. Look on the uni’s website for their welfare, safeguarding and responsible drinking policies, or information on their alcohol-free halls of residence.
Want to know more about uni culture? Have a look at our Welfare section, and head over to Which One? to help you decide on the perfect uni for you.
LUCY HARDING is an English Literature grad and an MA Publishing student at UCL. She is passionate about international relations and cultural diversity, having worked closely with her university’s Erasmus society to support European students. She also spent a year abroad studying at California State University: Long Beach
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