Britain's universities of choice for high degrees of sex, drugs and heavy drinking

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The Independent Online
MANCHESTER HAS emerged as the nation's capital for illegal drug use, drinking and sex, according to a survey of the nation's students published today.

The city more than lives down to its "Madchester" reputation in the Mori poll of undergraduate habits, spending and attitudes nationwide.

The research, commissioned by the Adam Smith Institute, a free market think tank, found that 40 per cent of University of Manchester students claim to have sex once a week, with 9 per cent say they had it "every day". They also spend pounds 25 a week on drink, more than those on any other campus, while 69 per cent claim to take illegal drugs, again the highest figure in the country.

Cambridge University, by contrast, tops the league for the number of students who want to enter public service and who believe social background is unimportant to career success.

Across Britain, the poll paints a surprisingly staid picture of undergraduate life. Two-thirds of women and 56 per cent of men say they have never tried illegal drugs. More than one in five are still virgins.

Spending is more predictable. On average, students spend seven times as much on alcohol, clubbing, gigs and cinema as on books.

They are said to spend pounds 20.32 a week on drink, pounds 17.90 on entertainment, another pounds 11.66 on clothes, pounds 7.43 on CDs and mobile phones and pounds 5.65 on books.

Attitudes are comprehensively liberal - 86 per cent claim to have friends from ethnic minorities and 57 per cent say they have gay or lesbian friends. Just 18 per cent have friends who are religious fundamentalists or racists, while 10 per cent know people who belong to extremist parties.

The Adam Smith Institute report, which accompanies the Mori poll, titled The Next Leaders?, concludes that students "tolerate everything except intolerance".

Although the research must contain more than an element of youthful bragging, the researchers claim that the anonymous survey shows up wide variations.

While more than 16 per cent of Manchester students use illegal drugs every week, with 4 per cent using them daily, at South Bank University in London, more than 77 per cent have never touched soft or hard drugs. Similarly, 75 per cent of Cambridge undergraduates and 73 per cent of Warwick students have never taken them. Students at the University of Central England in Birmingham appear the most conscientious, spending pounds 7.56 a week on books, the highest figure nationally. Nearly one in five of them spend "nothing" on entertainment.

Manchester tops the alcohol spending league, but Cambridge is not far behind, with more than half of its students spending more than pounds 10 a week on drink.

The most acquisitive undergraduates are at South Bank, Central England and University College London. All place a high salary as the most important element in a career.

More than a third of Cambridge students do not want jobs that interfere with their social or domestic life, the highest figure in the poll. At the top of the non-racist league were the London institutions, with 97 per cent of UCL students having black or Asian friends and South Bank 93 per cent. Even the lowest figure, 73 per cent at Edinburgh, is relatively high compared with the population as a whole.

Cambridge had the highest level of tolerance of homosexuality, with 84 per cent saying they had gay or lesbian friends. In contrast, just 36 per cent of South Bank students know they have gay friends.

The report says the figures point to a high degree of easy-going tolerance. Answers about their own friendships indicate that students are overwhelmingly free from this kind of prejudice, it concludes.

Student Claims About Their Lifestyles


Have sex at least once a week

Manchester 40%

UWIC 37%

Central England 32%

UCL 31%

UEA, Edinburgh, Cambridge 30%

Warwick 28%

South Bank 27%

Southampton 23%


Use illegal drugs at least once a month

Manchester, UCL 23%

Southampton 13%

Edinburgh 11%

UWIC 15%

Central England, Warwick 10%

South Bank 10%

Cambridge 9%

UEA 6%


Weekly spending on entertainment

South Bank pounds 24.54

UCL pounds 23.87

Central England pounds 22.38

Manchester pounds 19.47

Edinburgh pounds 16.43

Southampton pounds 16.24

UWIC pounds 16.13

UEA pounds 14.54