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A New Study Says British University Students Prefer Coffee to Cheap Beer

According to a survey from the National Union of Students, coffee shops have beat bars to become the most used facilities on UK university campuses.
Phoebe Hurst
London, GB
Photo via Flickr user Sarah Marriage

Like frazzled moths to a lightbulb, university students have a natural affinity with booze. Who else has the energy, resources, and seven hours to kill between morning lectures and tonight's Sports Soc social to invest in making beer with breakfast cereal or frequenting bars that promote drinking yourself to death? It's a match made in procrastinatory-liver-damage heaven.

Or at least it was when you were at uni. Nowadays, it seems British students prefer to get their shots in almond milk Americanos, not two-for-one Jägerbombs.


According to a new survey from the National Union of Students (NUS) and market research group YouthSight, coffee shops have beat bars to become the most used facilities on UK university campuses.

READ MORE: These University Students Are Swapping Booze for Beekeeping and Vegetables

Surveying 1000 students, half described cafes as the most "beneficial" service provided by their university, rather than the student union bar—a stalwart of many British universities known for cheap drink deals and library-avoiding patrons. Just 74 percent of those surveyed by the NUS said that such bars were the most used, compared to 87 percent for uni-run coffee shops.

The NUS added that sales of hot drinks were up 11 percent across their unions in the past year, reflecting Britain's newfound coffee obsession. In comparison, sales of draught and packaged beer had fallen over the last three years.

NUS vice president for union development Richard Brooks said: "Ten or 15 years ago, people went to university, obviously to learn something but also to make friends and have a good time […] but since the introduction of the £9,000-a-year fees regime in 2012 students have become much more focused on employment prospects."

READ MORE: College Students Have Found a Way to Brew Beer Nine Times Faster

In other words, today's students aren't the Carlsberg-swilling slackers you and your roomies were. Ain't nobody got time for midweek happy hour at the SU when there are graduate schemes to apply for.

The move away from alcohol may also stem from younger people's increased interest in pursuing healthy lifestyles. Today's students are just as likely to be found tending shared vegetable patches or running a farmers' market as they are cramming for finals.

Brooks added: "They set up social enterprises, such as a scheme in Liverpool where students grow their own food on allotments and sell it at cost price in the student union […] This is the new face of student life: profitable enterprise with a social edge."

Welcome to the best days of your life, kids.