NUS Alcohol Impact: What will it mean for you?
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The National Union of Students (NUS) has developed a Home Office-backed alcohol accreditation scheme that it hopes will become a “badge of honour” for universities in the UK. The scheme, which includes 54 mandatory and optional pointers for universities, is designed to instil a greater awareness of the effects of mass alcohol consumption, and better services for those who might feel that their drinking is becoming an issue. Alcohol Impact will begin with a one year pilot scheme, which will run at seven universities across the country that have already fulfilled its wide-ranging criteria, which includes issues surrounding alcohol advertising and promotion, staff awareness, support services and university events where alcohol isn’t the main focus. The pilot scheme will run at Swansea, Manchester Met, Brighton, Royal Holloway, Loughborough, Nottingham and Liverpool John Moores, with the University of Central Lancashire (UCLAN) acting as a control. The NUS calls the pilot scheme “potentially transformational” and hopes that it will “create a social norm of responsible alcohol consumption by students.” But what will it mean for students at the universities taking part, and for others that get on board after the pilot year has been completed? Will it mean, as has been suggested, the end of pub crawls and cheap drinks in uni bars? Or will it simply lead to greater awareness of the societal and health issues caused by the sheer amount of alcohol we consume as students – and a more open debate about how such issues can be handled? The universities taking part in Alcohol Impact have been selected against a list of criteria, some points of which are mandatory, others optional. Each criterion is given a number of points to demonstrate its importance – for example, taking up the optional “formal training for relevant staff on the issues relating to responsible alcohol consumption” would gain the university in question four points. Out of a possible 177 points, universities must score 90 in order to receive accreditation. Mandatory points, which must be taken up by the universities wishing to gain accreditation, include: - The publication of a statement on responsible alcohol consumption - The formation a local steering group that meets at least twice per academic year - Steps taken to establish, develop and promote a contemporary student identity based on responsible alcohol consumption - Engagement with representatives of sports clubs and societies on responsible alcohol consumption, within the past six months
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