UK students more likely to be found in cafe than bars

Students are trading beer for coffee. Picture: Lisa Ferguson/TSPL
Students are trading beer for coffee. Picture: Lisa Ferguson/TSPL
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THE stereotype of boozy British students may soon be a thing of the past.

Students are more likely to be found at the café than the union bar, according to research from YouthSight and the National Union of Students (NUS) into how students are making the most of their students’ unions.

Since the introduction of the £9,000 a year fees regime in 2012 students have become much more focused on employment prospects

Richard Brooks, NUS

The survey of 1000 undergraduates commissioned for The Independent found that the most useful services for students were the clubs and societies (60 per cent), advice and support (50 per cent) and café facilities (43 per cent), with only 37 per cent identifying bars as the most useful service.

The survey also found that coffee shops (87 per cent), the union shop (81 per cent) and clubs and societies (78 per cent) were the services most used by students, ahead of bars (74 per cent).

The respondents felt clubs and societies were the most beneficial services provided by students’ unions, with 55 per cent benefiting a lot from them and half (50 per cent) said they benefited a lot from café facilities.

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Commenting on the results, Richard Brooks, vice president for union development for NUS, said: “Ten or 15 years ago people went to university, obviously to learn something but also to make friends and have a good time.

“A lot of policy-makers who I talk to think it’s still like when they were at university but since the introduction of the £9,000 a year fees regime in 2012 students have become much more focused on employment prospects.

“Today’s students are now much more likely to set up an academic society to provide the academic support that they may feel is lacking on their course.”

The analysis of evidence collected from students’ unions across the UK reveals how student life is very different today than 10 or 20 years ago:

-Sales of draught and packaged beer has declined year on year for the past three years, while hot drink sales continue to rise – with an increase of 11 per cent in the past year alone;

-Support services provided by SUs continue to rise year on year, with an increase of 15 per cent in cases at Hertfordshire, and 14 per cent in Cardiff;

-Academic societies are on the rise, with the number trebling at De Montford and at Chester universites in recent years;

-Universities continue to lead the way with fundraising activities, work in the local community, and social enterprises – with the amount raised more than doubled at £49,000 at FXU, and 12,345 volunteering hours logged at Keele;

-Many universities now run 24 hour library service, often introduced after campaigns by students (e.g. in Chester, Herts, Keele, Hull).

A spokesperson for NUS added:

“Students’ unions are not an outdated stereotype of sticky bars filled with beer-swilling students avoiding their lectures, this is the new face of student life: profitable enterprise with a social edge.

“This innovation, is in reaction to the changing face of student life, and proves times have changed drastically since decision-makers in politics and the education sector where at university.”