Drug culture at UK universities


Main story: Drugs survey: 1 in 3 reveal they have used drugs

Surveys into drug use have been carried out at many other universities across the UK.

A 2012 survey by Student Beans found that of the 1,903 respondents from universities across the UK, 54 per cent had tried illegal substances. Similarly to The Saint’s survey, the most popular drug was cannabis with 77 per cent admitting that they had tried it at least once while they had been at university.

Last year, a survey by The Tab found that 70 per cent of 5,126 respondents from 21 universities across the UK had tried illegal drugs at least once. The university with the highest amount of drug taking, according to the survey, was Leeds, where 85 per cent of student said they had taken drugs. This was closely followed by the University of Manchester, where 84 per cent of respondents said they had tried drugs. The University of Cambridge and Durham University came bottom of that table with 64 per cent and 57 per cent of students respectively answering that they had tried drugs at least once. The survey also found that 87 per cent of respondents who studied philosophy also took drugs.

The survey also found that although drug use was common, only four per cent of respondents thought they needed to take drugs to have a good time.

The University of York student newspaper, York Vision, recently undertook an investigation into the use of “study drugs” at the University there. More than one in five students asked had taken prescription drugs such as Ritalin, Adderall or Modafinil to aid their concentration while studying, but 79 per cent of Vision’s sample of 240 respondents admitted that they would consider taking the drug to aid their study.

One in ten students at Cambridge said they had taken medication without prescription to help with work, according to a survey by student paper Varsity. Furthermore, one third of students at Cambridge said they would take concentration-enhancing pills if they were given the opportunity. The survey also found that students studying essay-based subjects were more likely to take these drugs – 16 per cent of respondents studying philosophy said they had taken study drugs.

At the University of Oxford, student newspaper Cherwell carried out a similar investigation and found that while seven per cent of students who responded had taken a ‘smart drug’, 28 per cent would consider taking these drugs but over half would deem it cheating. However, only 32 per cent thought academic drugs should be made illegal.


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