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The students calling time on Fresher’s Week drinking

Fresher’s Week has become notorious for rowdy partying, but the tradition of finding new friends over cheap cider in the union bar could soon be coming to an end.

Dundee’s Abertay University has recently shut its union bar due to falling demand, and with an increasing number of under 25s classing themselves as non-drinkers, are we seeing the start of a cultural shift away from pubs and clubs?

Sober students

Student Brooke explains why she decided not to drink at university.

St Andrews university student Brooke Ritchie made a conscious decision not to drink alcohol as she began her studies. And she was surprised to find that she was not alone in her teetotalism.

“It was more common than I thought it would be,” she revealed on Mornings with Stephen Jardine.

“I thought it would be really hard and there would be lots of pressure especially around certain traditions in St Andrews like Raisin Weekend. But a lot of friends I ended up making didn’t drink and people really respect you for having principles and reasoning behind why you don’t drink.”

Brooke and her friends are just some of many young people choosing to remain sober. Recent research discovered a decline in drinking among under 25s, compared with a decade ago.

Tom Hyde runs a café in Edinburgh where he’s seen first-hand the shift away from alcohol-fuelled nights out, as customers look for a different experience.

“What we’ve seen in the last 2-3 years in particular is rising demand towards the end of the day for an additional space for people to come,” he said.

“We do serve alcohol but what we find most of our customers are wanting is non-alcoholic drinks during that period as an alternative to bars and pubs.”

So as students arrive at university to begin their studies there may be more friendships cemented over non-alcoholic beverages than Fresher’s Week has ever witnessed before.

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