This report looks at the limited number of New Zealand tertiary student alcohol use studies that have been undertaken. This report covers four studies: two at Waikato University and two at Otago University.
Most research into tertiary student drinking comes from the United States; some is available from Canada, Europe and Australia. Four studies were found from New Zealand and all indicated:
- consumption levels well in excess of recommended limits
- first-hand and second-hand harms related to that consumption
- evidence of a general public health concern that needs management.
University life may actually promote drinking among students. Drinking has been described as intrinsic to the student culture and a more defining feature of tertiary study than academic work itself. High rates of drinking are seen by researchers as due to:
the peer nature of the tertiary education culture – alcohol allows you to fit in
- the need to prove masculinity and adulthood
- the high levels of unstructured free time available
- the promotion of alcohol to students.
‘Drinking stories’ play a part in maintaining group dynamics and are seen positively by students, which means drinking harms could actually be seen as a good thing. ‘Drinking games’ are also prevalent, with the aim of getting drunk quickly, socialising, controlling others and getting others drunk.