Replacing pub crawls and alcohol-based initiation ceremonies with a “cafe culture that runs into the evening”, a new campaign wants to change the way people socialise at universities.
The pilot scheme, run by the National Union of Students and the Home Office, has seen seven universities join – including Manchester Metropolitan, Brighton, Swansea and Royal Holloway. The NUS Alcohol Impact scheme will run for 12 months, with the possibility of being extended to two years.
Student unions and University managements will have to work together to gain accreditation under this new scheme. In order to be accredited, universities will be scored against a list of criteria, including the following:
- Limiting the sale, advertising and promotion of alcohol.
- Ensuring any subsidised bars offer low-cost non-alcoholic beverages.
- Preventing alcohol-related ceremonies.
- Taking action against pub crawls and social media drinking games.
Every six months the student unions are also expected to put on at least one mainstream social event offering non-alcoholic drinks – especially during freshers’ weeks. Finally, accredited universities will be expected to create policies and communications regarding the dangers of binge-drinking.
The Home Office has committed over £90,000 for the first 12 months and, if extended, they will continue to fund the second year. It is hoped that the scheme will one day become permanent and funded by universities.
Crime Prevention minister Norman Baker supports the initiative, saying:
“Some student 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.”
NUS vice-president Colum McGuire said the campaign has been designed to change attitudes and behaviour that surrounds alcohol at universities, leading to “safer and more productive places to study and live.”