The College Tribune conducted a survey to assess student drinking levels in UCD, and attitudes towards alcohol in general following a report issued by UCC which found large levels of hazardous alcohol consumption among 2,275 undergraduates.
Of the students surveyed, 85% claimed to drink alcohol at least once a week. Only a minority of 15% of students drank more than three times a week. The amount of alcohol consumed varied widely from individual to individual, but the average seemed to be five drinks per night. Only three students who responded to the survey did not drink.
The survey also assessed UCD students’ attitudes toward alcohol in general. 60% claimed they consumed alcohol to become relaxed and cheerful, and a further 30% claimed they drank in order to become more confident on nights out. Only 10p% claimed they drank to get drunk, and not one student admitted that they set out to become very drunk when consuming alcohol.
The number of students who admitted to missing lectures and classes due to hangovers and other alcohol related reasons was substantial. A full 40% said that they occasionally do not attend college, with 10% saying they did so on a weekly basis.
Perhaps the most alarming aspect of this survey was the exposure of UCD student’s lack of knowledge regarding healthy drinking levels. 85% of students estimated that between ten and twelve standard units of alcohol (one unit equaling a half a glass of beer, or a pub measure of spirits) constituted binge drinking. Whereas in reality anything over six units, (a 200ml bottle of spirits, three pints of beer) is in fact considered to be binge drinking.
However, perhaps there is little cause for alarm, according to second year Arts Student Dan Flynn, “I just don’t see why people are so shocked by these figures. I mean, the last time I checked, it was fairly common knowledge that students drink a whole lot. There’s no argument that excessive drinking causes problems, but I wouldn’t believe that the majority of people who drink heavily in college would continue after they leave….it is part of the lifestyle, but in all honesty I don’t think raising any prices of alcohol is going to help. All that’s going to happen is students will be paying even more than they already are, and we don’t have a huge amount of money to begin with”.
This survey came in the wake of a new report published by University College Cork. Led by UCC researcher and PhD candidate Martin Davoren, in association with UCC colleagues Dr Frances Shiely and Professor Ivan Perry of UCC’s Department of Epidemiology and Public Health and Dr Michael Byrne, Head of UCC’s Student Health Department, this survey outlines the dangerous levels of alcohol consumed by Irish students.
66.4% of students responding reported hazardous alcohol consumption, 65.2% for men and 67.3% for women. At the higher end of the scale, approximately 17% of men and 5% of women were consuming more than six units of alcohol at least 4 times per week, and in some cases on a daily basis. UCC become an influential party on an issue, winning awards for the Best Public Health Initiative category and the prestigious overall award, An Duais Mhór for its work around alcohol at the Irish Healthcare Awards in 2013.
Mark Stanton, UCC Students’ Union President commented: “The results of this study should be seen as a call to action nationally – it is important to remember this isn’t just an issue for UCC students, or students in general. A national conversation needs to take place and students need to be at the heart of the discussion, not the topic of it. Over the last few years, students’ unions in UCC, UCC Student Health Centre and the UCC Health Matters initiative have done fantastic work in highlighting and mitigating the harmful effects of dangerous drinking, but this needs to happen nationally if we’re going to turn a corner.”
These results have ignited fresh debates on the sale and advertisement of alcohol, and possibly more control over its sale and advertisement.