The University of Buckingham has been commended after it announced its plans to become Britain’s first “drug-free campus”.
Students at the university will be asked to sign contracts agreeing not to take drugs, in what has been described as a “revolution” to make drug-taking in higher education “socially unacceptable”.
It follows criticism of Sheffield University, which last month gave students detailed advice on how to take drugs ‘safely’.
Buckingham’s Vice-Chancellor Sir Anthony Seldon said to allow drug-taking in universities to go unchallenged was “insane”.
He said: “I asked myself what kind of moral leadership university leaders were providing in colluding in the mass consumption of illegal drugs on our premises?
“Where was the compassion, and care for vulnerable and often still young students living away from home for the first time?”
Line in the sand
Sir Anthony explained that the university would adopt a “compassionate policy”, with struggling students to receive help and support.
He was also clear, however, that those who “don’t respect our policy, repeatedly use drugs or who deal drugs, will be asked to leave”.
The university already allows police sniffer dogs on campus, but is hoping that by getting students to agree to abstain, there can be a complete culture change.
Boris Pomroy, Chief Executive of drugs charity Mentor, said: “An ambition of a ‘drug-free campus’ is certainly laudable, particularly if it has been developed in partnership with the students.”
Janie Hamilton, a retired teacher who now visits schools around the country trying to educate children about the dangers of drug use, said: “I agree with every word he says.”
Mrs Hamilton lost her son to testicular cancer in 2015 after he refused treatment. Doctors said his refusal was a result of his schizophrenia brought on by cannabis use.
She said: “I wish my son James had been able to attend a university which had adopted this approach. Young people do not understand how harmful drugs can be on the developing brain.”
She added that while some may turn a blind eye because they think it too great a problem to overcome, “we should try. It will be worth it if we can save others from suffering as my son did.”