Day of the Sober Student; University Life Has Become a Sobering Experience for Today's Students as They Face the Financial Reality of Higher Education, as Education Correspondent Shahid Naqvi Reports

Article excerpt

Byline: Shahid Naqvi

One pint of beer a week. That, according to their representatives, is all that students can afford to enjoy at their campus union bars nowadays.

The frugal drinking habits have been blamed on the introduction of university tuition fees five years ago, forcing students to pay pounds 1,125 at the start of each year.

Student union bodies across the Midlands believe the move has created a new generation of money-conscious undergraduates who no longer conform to the traditional fun-loving student lifestyle.

The University of Warwick said the average amount spent by each student at its union bars last year was only pounds 60.

With the price of a normal pint of beer at about pounds 1.80, that equates to just one pint a week over the 30-week period of the academic year.

President of Warwick's student union Bob Jones said: 'We saw quite a sizeable drop in attendance when tuition fees were introduced.

'Now they have to pay fees they have less money to spend on entertainment and other aspects of student life.

'It means the archetypal model of the student has changed. Increased competition for places also means they have to take a more professional approach to studying.'

Warwick University has a student population of 18,000 -5,000 of them living on the campus within striking striking distance of its seven union bars.

Cheap drink offers -such as numerous venues in city and town centres offering pounds 1-a-pint nights -could be one reason for the fall in alcohol sales at university bars.

The University of Birmingham's finance manager Nick Bailey believes outside competition and increasing numbers of less alcohol-obsessed students from overseas have contributed to a ten per cent slide in profit from campus bars. But he added: 'Tuition fees is a major factor in this and has caused major problems. It has impacted on takings for the last four or five years.'

Aston University -the closest campus to Birmingham city centre -claimed the lure of cheap offers from pubs and clubs was not enough to account for a dramatic fall in customers at its union bars. …