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University joins scheme to tackle binge drinking
A radical new project has been designed to tackle the culture of binge drinking at universities.
The University of Brighton is one of seven around the country taking part in a one-year pilot scheme to encourage responsible drinking among students.
It is being run by the Home Office in partnership with the National Union of Students.
The universities are hoping to gain accreditation under the NUS Alcohol Impact Scheme for their work in promoting responsible alcohol policy and practice.
They will aim to reduce alcohol-fuelled crime and disorder and work to stop students from developing health problems or injuries.
Accreditation will be awarded to universities which meet a set of criteria committing them to actions such as preventing alcohol-related initiation ceremonies, tackling student participation in pub crawls and monitoring antisocial behaviour.
Responsible drinking communications campaigns, formal training for university staff on alcohol’s harms and developing social alternatives to licensed premises are also among the targets.
Government crime prevention minister and Lewes MP Norman Baker said: “Binge drinking at universities is nothing new, but that doesn’t mean it is a good idea. Some students find themselves encouraged to participate in alcohol- fuelled activities which can damage health and in some cases spill over into disorder and antisocial behaviour.
“Accreditation should become a badge of honour for universities and another factor which helps promote their world class teaching and research to prospective domestic and international students.”
Brighton University vice-chancellor Julian Crampton said: “Drinking to excess is an extremely serious issue. It touches the lives of many individuals and families, and impacts on the work of hospitals, emergency services and society as a whole.
“Students work extremely hard to gain their qualifications and will always want time out to relax and to enjoy themselves.
“We and other universities work closely with students to ensure they are fully informed about issues surrounding excessive drinking and we offer them advice and support.
“The majority of students act sensibly but anything that reinforces the message of responsible drinking is something we would encourage.”
NUS vice-president Colum McGuire said: “The project is an extremely positive one that has the welfare of students at its core.”
The NUS will monitor the success of the scheme through detailed surveys comparing student experiences of crime and disorder, as well as tracking crime rates.
A survey of university students in Brighton and Sussex carried out during 2012/3 revealed 72% had drunk alcohol in the last seven days while half sometimes drank deliberately to get drunk.
Brighton and Hove has one of the highest levels of admissions to hospital for drink-related problems in the south east.
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