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Student perceptions of alcohol use

By Gillian N Penny and Sarah Armstrong-Hallam


Young people’s levels of alcohol consumption and alcohol related problems continue to generate concern. Research has shown that alcohol use is embedded within the student culture and that undergraduates consume more alcohol relative to their peers in the general population. The increasing undergraduate population means that any alcohol related issues in this group will expand unless positive attempts are made to raise awareness and change behaviour. As part of a larger study examining the alcohol related experiences and concerns of undergraduates, HE staff and members of community agencies, students from one University and its associated Colleges in the East Midlands completed an online survey and participated in focus groups. This paper reports the findings in relation to the students’ perceptions of alcohol. Survey results indicated differences between abstainers and drinkers in the perceived social norms of student drinking and in the extent to which alcohol use was seen to be a problem. Focus groups findings showed considerable variation in the alcohol related perceptions of students. Whilst many did not perceive levels of alcohol use to be harmful and considered overconsumption a transitory stage, others were more aware of its adverse influences and potentially marginalising effects. Findings are considered in terms of their implications for higher education and their local communitie

Topics: HV5001, LB2300
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Provided by: NECTAR
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