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1 in 5 university students say they don’t drink

Young people appear to be shifting away from heavy drinking. Source: Pixabay

By Matt Tomlin

Many students will have had an experience where they said they wouldn’t go on a night out, and then two hours later ended up in a club fairly drunk. But recent research from the Office for National Statistics shows that the binge drinking culture of university is on the decline, with 1 in 5 students saying they don’t drink.

The reasons for this are believed to be a wider range of cultural beliefs among university students, financial troubles faced by students and awareness of the health risks of binge drinking.

This goes in line with lots of wider research into British and Welsh lifestyles, with more than a quarter of young adults in the UK saying they don’t drink and drunkenness having halved in Welsh teens in the last 12 years. In addition, the 2017/18 National Survey for Wales found the demographic of the population most likely to drink over the recommended weekly consumption was the older generation, and 16-24 year olds have been found to be much more likely to either drink within the limit or to not drink at all.

The overall move away from alcohol is also believed to be associated with money and increasing awareness of the health risks of alcohol consumption, similar to the trend seen over the last few decades regarding smoking and its acceptance. The trend is likely to continue, with more regulations on alcohol taking place. Within the last few weeks, the Welsh Government approved a minimum price of 50p per alcoholic unit.

Despite the indication that a general move away from alcohol is occurring, and probably for the better, it is worth noting how a smaller proportion of students are non-drinkers than 16-24 year olds in general. This may be because of binge-drinking and nightlife culture still being ingrained into much of university culture.

Cardiff University Students’ Union was reported by Gair Rhydd last week to have seen a massive increase in sales for their club nights, with most of which being aimed at students who go out and drink despite the SU having put on a greater variety of events this year. Overall, there is still a feeling in many universities as well that there are not enough events for students who do not drink and that it is unlikely this will change in the near future.

For students who are non-drinkers, there are non-alcoholic events arranged by the Give It A Go team. Details of these events can be found on the SU website. Furthermore, all Cardiff University societies are required to hold a non-alcoholic social at one point in the year, and plenty of society activities do not involve drinking.

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