A new £90,000 project led by the UK Government and students is seeking to make pub crawls and drinking games on English and Welsh university campuses a thing of the past.
Seven universities have joined a pilot scheme run by the National Union of Students (NUS) and the Home Office to curb binge drinking and instead encourage an evening “café culture”.
The BBC reports that the NUS Alcohol Impact scheme will run for 12 months at Loughborough, Nottingham, Swansea, Brighton, Manchester Metropolitan, Liverpool John Moores and Royal Holloway universities.
University managements and student unions will work together to gain accreditation under the new scheme, with institutions being scored against a list of criteria. These include limiting the sale, promotion and advertising of alcohol, ensuring subsidised bars also sell low-priced non-alcoholic drinks, and action to tackle pub crawls and social media drinking games.
Student unions are being asked to offer at least one “quality, non-alcoholic, mainstream social event” every six months, particularly during freshers’ welcome weeks.
Universities will also be expected to develop policies and campaigns on the dangers of excessive alcohol consumption, to train staff and to work with off-campus licensed premises and retailers “to ensure their operations encourage responsible and safe alcohol consumption”.
The Home Office says it may extend the funding into a second year, with the hope being that the scheme will eventually become permanent and funded by universities.
“Some students find themselves encouraged to participate in alcohol-fuelled activities which can damage health and in some cases spill over into disorder and anti-social behaviour,” said crime prevention minister Norman Baker MP.
“Accreditation should become a badge of honour for universities and another factor which helps promote their world-class teaching and research to prospective domestic and international students.”
NUS vice-president Colum McGuire said the project was designed to change attitudes and behaviour regarding alcohol at universities, creating “a social norm of responsible consumption by students at the pilot institutions” and “leading to safer and more productive places to study and live”.
Prof Julian Crampton, vice-chancellor of Brighton University, said he was delighted his institution was taking part.
“Students work extremely hard to gain their qualifications and will always want time out to relax and to enjoy themselves.
“The majority of students act sensibly but anything that reinforces the message of responsible drinking is something we would encourage.”