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Buckingham to become first ‘drug-free’ university

Vice-chancellor Sir Anthony Seldon has said that universities are failing their students on drugs and mental health.

The University of Buckingham will become the first UK university to launch a “drug-free” policy, where students will have to sign a contract promising not to take drugs on campus.

The move has been made as figures from 116 universities obtained by The Sunday Times reveal a 42% rise in the number of those being disciplined for drug use compared to 2015.

Writing in the same paper, Sir Anthony Seldon, the University’s vice-chancellor, said that if students persisted in taking drugs, they would be expelled.

Universities are “failing their students on drugs and mental health” and needed to take more responsibility for students in their care, he said.

“A completely new approach is needed. Student lives are needlessly being lost and imperilled.

“Universities need to shake themselves up and take more responsibility for students in their care.

“Information about the harm that drugs could do should be everywhere — as ubiquitous as the warnings on cigarette packets.

“The University of Buckingham is working towards becoming Britain’s first ‘drug free’ university,” he added.

“We plan to ask our students to sign a contract that makes it clear that they will not take drugs on university property, nor be under their influence when on university business.

“Drug-taking has no place at all in our vision of what a university is about. If students persist in taking drugs, they will be asked to leave.

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More than 1,300 students were disciplined for drugs by British universities in the 2016-17 academic year (Gareth Fuller/PA)

“The focus with our students at Buckingham is to help them lead a fulfilling and meaningful life using natural and healthy approaches.

“Our aim is not to be punitive or repressive but to be compassionate and enlightened, helping our students learn how to be fully adult and responsible to themselves and to others. In this, drug-taking has no place.”

The figures obtained by the Sunday Times show that more than 1,300 students were disciplined for drugs by British universities in the 2016-17 academic year – a 42% rise on 2014-15.

The highest discipline figures came from Kingston, where 331 students faced sanctions, and Nottingham, where 283 students were disciplined.

Figures also say that Essex and Sussex Universities have each punished at least 200 students for drug offences since 2014-15.

Sanctions often include fines, but can be as severe as suspension from the university.

At Leicester University, and City, University of London, not a single sanction was given for drug use, according to the Sunday Times.

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