Written by Alyssa Walker

The new "typical" college student looks different, especially when it comes to ideas about drug use among students in the UK. 

The results of a new survey, released by the Higher Education Policy Institute (Hepi), suggest that students in the UK don't use drugs as much as experts thought. 

According to The Guardian, "Of the 1,000 undergraduates who took part in the poll, 71% said they had not taken drugs, 88% thought drugs caused mental health problems, and 68% believed they led to problems for society and contributed to criminality."

An April study from the National Union of Students (NUS) suggested something different, with 56 percent of students have used drugs at some point, and about 39 percent reporting that they currently used substances.

The Hepi students found that male students were more likely to have used drugs, with 68 percent reporting that they'd never used drugs, compared to 74 percent of female students.

Of those who claimed to have used drugs, 6 percent reported that they used them to cope with exams.

Why the disparity between Hepi and NUS? Hepi says that the NUS survey targeted specific groups of students and was not a randomized sample. 

NUS officer Jess Bradley defended the NUS research in The Guardian, saying “While we do not claim our survey in April was a prevalence study or aimed to represent the views of all students, it is important to recognize almost three times more students participated in ours than in the survey released today by Hepi.

“The survey by Hepi is purely opinion-based, whereas we also sought to understand students’ experiences of drug use and the impact that has on their lives. Our survey was made available to all students, through all of our channels. Not just specific groups that hold a particular view on student drug use.”

Alyssa Walker is a freelance writer, educator, and nonprofit consultant. She lives in the White Mountains of New Hampshire with her family.
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