Belfast Telegraph

Booze-free rooms just the tonic for Queen's students

BY AMANDA FERGUSON AND JOANNE SWEENEY

Student digs were once synonymous with rowdy young people enjoying all-night booze parties – but it appears demand is growing for 'alcohol-free' accommodation.

The shift of focus from booze to books is thought to be linked to a variety of factors, including increased diversity among the student population, the rising cost of living and the fact students are now spending up to £9,000 on fees each year.

Queen's University Belfast told the Belfast Telegraph it is entering its fourth year of providing alcohol-free accommodation to those students requesting it.

It's one of the three "lifestyle options" Queen's has been offering students since 2010-11:

* The No Alcohol option means alcohol cannot be consumed by the resident or their guests anywhere on the premises;

* The second option is Single Sex meaning students will be living with only other male or female students; and

* The third is Quiet Living offering accommodation to those who prefer "a quieter, more study-focused environment".

A Queen's spokeswoman said: "The original idea of having No Alcohol accommodation was brought forward following discussions with a local resident, and one block was trialled to see if there was a demand.

"The other options came about following consultation with students in addressing what they wanted in their accommodation."

For 2013-14, 30% of applicants asked for Lifestyle options in student accommodation.

Meanwhile, none of the 2,300 units of student accommodation managed by the University of Ulster, across its campuses at Jordanstown, Coleraine and Magee is designated alcohol-free.

A UU spokesman said: "The university does not at present offer designated alcohol-free accommodation blocks, but would be happy to consider the idea if there were was sufficient demand from students or potential students.

"Students may bring alcoholic drinks into their accommodation. However, the consumption of alcohol in university accommodation is considered a privilege, and may be revoked if that privilege is abused."

Meanwhile, at University College Cork a new pilot scheme trialling alcohol-free apartments has been introduced.

One of the reasons for providing students with the accommodation option was due to concerning levels of alcohol consumption recorded among UCC students in a 2010 study.

Deirdre Griffin, health promotion project worker at UCC, said: "I am excited to welcome this development and feel that many students will really value having this option.

"UCC Health Matters is about enabling the students and staff of UCC to take control over and improve their wellbeing.

"It is about creating the environments that will help people to live happy and healthy lives and achieve their full potential."

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