Students come clean with change of image

Oxbridge survey: Sex and drugs take back seat as undergraduates display preference for monogamy, hard work and the Bible
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The Independent Online
The Brideshead image may never be the same again. Today's Oxbridge students list Jesus Christ and their own parents as their greatest heroes, the Bible as their favourite book and going to church among their favourite leisure activities.

And if that were not bad enough, a significant proportion seem to be teetotal virgins who work too hard and hope for a good job when they leave, if the findings of the Independent's latest survey with the Cherwell and Varsity student newspapers are to be believed.

Even among the two-thirds of respondents who were not virgins, most preferred to restrict their sexual activities to the confines of a steady relationship. Only 1 in 10 had had more than five sexual partners.

While 9 out of 10 had drunk some alcohol in the week before the survey was distributed, fewer than 1 in 3 had drunk more than the recommended safe level for men. Just 1 in 36 now drinks more than 50 units per week, compared with 1 in 8 last year.

Drinking and socialising were the most popular leisure activities but going to church rated fourth after sport and music. Drama, watching television, writing and spending time with a boyfriend or girlfriend were all popular ways of spending spare time.

Academic work takes priority over politics or social life for most students. Only a quarter say they do too little academic work, while almost one- third think they do more than enough.

While 4 per cent said they did "hardly any" and 23 per cent did "not enough," 32 per cent felt they spent more than enough time on their studies.

Having won their places in Britain's elite universities, the students were in the main happy with their choice. More than 4 out of 10 thought their courses were the best in the country in their discipline, while a quarter thought they were not.

The undergraduates of the 1990s did not seem to worry unduly about finding jobs when they left university, despite their predilection for hard work and wholesome play.

Almost 7 out of 10 thought their prospects were "good" or "very good," while fewer than 1 in 10 thought the outlook was poor.

Women, however, were likely to have a lower opinion of their job chances, with 56 per cent thinking they were good and 15 per cent thinking they were poor.

Open questions such as "Who do you most admire?" and "What is your favourite book?" brought a huge variety of responses.

Quentin Tarantino, Richard Branson and James Bond were listed as heroes alongside Stephen Hawking and Mahatma Gandhi, while the choice of books ranged from Madonna's Sex to AA Milne's Winnie the Pooh.

But aspiring students who still want to enjoy the wilder side of life at university might be best advised to choose Cambridge. More than 4 out of 10 Cambridge students said they were having a "great" time, while only 1 in 10 were similarly happy with life at Oxford. And almost 10 per cent of Oxford students are "definitely not" enjoying themselves, compared with less than 1 per cent at Cambridge.