Ah, university students and drugs. I bet you won’t have looked at these particular statistics with your parents when you were applying for uni back in the day.
However, without meaning to, you may well have ended up at one of the top-dogs for illegal substance abuse: it’s not necessarily where you might expect (except it mostly is).
For obvious reasons, it can be very hard to get accurate and honest national statistics about drug usage at university, but given its prominence in university life – whether you choose take them or not – it’s definitely worth finding this out if you can.
In the Tab’s drug survey of 2016, they asked over 10,000 university students whether they’d tried drugs, and the statistics were pretty high: Liverpool John Moores and Bristol’s UWE topped the table with a massive 89 percent of students surveyed admitting to trying drugs.
In second place was last year’s winner Manchester, which just missed out on the top spot at 88 percent, followed by chilled-out Sussex at 87 percent and the notorious party-city Leeds in fourth place at 86 percent.
Cambridge and Oxford both ranked quite highly too, with Cambridge at 80 percent and Oxford at 77 percent.
As you might expect, Oxford and Cambridge have battled it out for dominance in the table in previous years: In the 2015 Tab survey, Oxford came out on top, with their students ranking at 69 percent, while Cambridge appeared near the bottom of the table at 56 percent (something has clearly happened in the last year to make 24 percent more Cambridge students try drugs…)
On average, 79 percent of students have tried drugs – which is significantly higher than last year’s Tab survey average of 70 percent. If you want somewhere relatively drug-free, Southampton and Durham are safe and legal bets at the bottom of the table at 63 and 64 percent respectively.
If you’re at uni in London, then there is a big difference depending on your university: UCL comes in just below average at 78 percent, whereas King’s is much lower at 65 percent (although I am surprised that anyone has any money left over for drugs in London).
Of course, as interesting as these stats are, they don’t necessarily relate to your day-to-day experience at university, or tell you how many students regularly take drugs. This is something that I think you’ll only find out by being at uni yourself.
Notably too, this increase in student drug usage also has another side to it: in addition to popular recreational drugs such as MDMA (ecstasy), there are also reports that study drugs such as Modafinil – which is prescribed on the NHS for Narcolepsy – are becoming increasingly popular with students who are stressed out with finals and feel that they need a concentration boost.
According to a report from the BBC, a fifth of university students (and one in four students at Oxford) have used it to enhance their exam performance and revising, since it has been linked to improved cognition and has few identified side effects.
Given the increased pressure placed on students now to achieve both excellent degree results, and gain work experience at uni – while paying upwards of £9,250 a year for the privilege – I would not be surprised if study drugs ended up taking over from party drugs in the league tables in a few years’ time.