In Brief

One in five UK uni students now teetotal

Financial pressures, a wider diversity of faiths and increased health awareness contributing to drop in drinking

More than one in five UK university students now classify themselves as teetotal, as financial pressures and increased health awareness increasingly put young people off alcohol.

As students head to university for Fresher’s Week, a time long-associated with socialising driven by heavy drinking, a YouGov survey for the National Union of Students (NUS) has found the stereotype of students spending most of their time getting drunk is getting further from reality.

While 20% said they did not drink at all, more than two-thirds believed students only drank alcohol to fit in with their peers.

At the other end of the spectrum around 2% of those surveyed said they drink most days, with 23% drinking two to three days a week.

With many students now paying £9,250 a year in fees, the NUS believes the financial pressures facing students, particularly in relation to doing well because they have accrued more debt, are causing the shift in students’ drinking habits.

On top of monetary restraints The Independent says “a range of factors – including an increased awareness of health and a wider diversity of faiths – have contributed” to a rise in teetotal students, as well as a rise in technology which has provided an alternative source of entertainment to students.

The shift in behaviour has driven demand for more university activities that don’t involve drinking as well as the rise of “inclusive spaces” for teetotal students on campus including more alcohol-free accommodation.

The University of St Andrews, which has offered alcohol-free accommodation since 2015, said it was unable to place all students who had requested rooms this year due to the number of applications.

But while students’ relationship to alcohol may be slowly changing, nearly four in five of those surveyed by the NUS (79%) still believe that getting drunk is part of university culture, and only one in 10 is aware of responsible drinking activities or campaigns on campus.

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