A new pilot scheme to counter the binge-drinking culture in universities has been launched by the National Union of Students (NUS) and the Home Office.
Under the year-long project, seven universities will seek to gain an accreditation mark through various initiatives such as limiting the sale, promotion and advertising of alcohol and taking action to tackle pub crawls.
Other criteria the institutions will be scored against include limiting or preventing alcohol-related initiation ceremonies, and student unions offering at least one “quality, non-alcoholic, mainstream social event” every six months and particularly during freshers’ weeks.
The universities are also expected to develop a “café culture that runs into the evening, providing a social alternative to alcoholic spaces”.
The Home Office is putting more than £90,000 into the scheme, and could extend funding into a second year – the aim is for the project to become permanent and be funded by universities themselves.
Crime Prevention Minister Norman Baker said: “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.
“The NUS Alcohol Impact project, backed by the Home Office, will help participating universities to encourage responsible drinking leading to safer and more productive places to study and live.”
The universities taking part are Loughborough, Nottingham, Swansea, Brighton, Manchester Metropolitan, Liverpool John Moores and Royal Holloway.
Part of the scheme involves the institutions making students aware of the dangers of excessive alcohol consumption.
NUS Vice-President (Welfare) Colum McGuire said: “We hope that the work of the project will allow us to create a social norm of responsible consumption by students at the pilot institutions”.
“We will also aim to encourage responsible retailing and the provision of a broader range of activities as well as effective support services on campus, and by doing so make universities more welcoming for those who do not drink.”