Manchester Uni collects up to £146k in drugs fines, but spends £1k on drugs education

In five years UoM has fined almost 600 students in its ‘zero-tolerance drugs policy’

Drugs and uni life in Manchester often seem inseparable. A Tab poll placed UoM joint second in the country for the uni who takes the most drugs. Yet the University of Manchester still maintains a relentless “zero-tolerance policy” to drugs.

Figures obtained by The Manchester Tab reveal that between 2016 to 2021 the university fined a total of 584 students just in uni halls of residence for drug-related offences.

With fines ranging from between £100 to £250 per offence, this means the uni has raked in somewhere between £58,400 to £146,000 in fines.

Yet The Manchester Tab can reveal that last year, the uni spent a total of just £1,000 on drug safety education for its over 40,000 students (less than 3p per student).

In the same five years, the university also evicted 17 students for drug offences. Instead of a policy of support the university has prioritised making students homeless.

The uni’s official drug policy states: “ResLife have a strict zero-tolerance policy towards drugs and the University undertakes random checks using canine detection support services. Students in the past have been caught with these substances and were consequently expelled from halls.”

Some may believe that there’s simply no alternative route for the uni to take. Yet this policy is a far cry from Bristol Uni’s, which states: “We understand that a zero-tolerance stance is harmful and damaging as it prevents students reaching out as they may fear being punished.

“As an institution we believe that a harm reduction stance is in the best interests of our student body and reduces barriers to accessing support.”

Universities like Bristol accept what most students already know, you can never stop drug use at uni. What you can do is prevent young lives from being lost through effective harm reduction education.

If UoM spent more time and resources on education, not fines or evictions, it would go a long way to showing the uni cares about student’s welfare over profit.

A University of Manchester spokesperson said: “We do recognise education on recreational drug use and misuse is extremely important for students. That is why we work closely with relevant partnership organisations – such as our Students’ Union, the NHS, Frank and Change, Grow, Live (CGL) – to raise awareness and support students.

“For example, as well as training staff across the university on the topic, CGL offers pop-up clinics at our Counselling & Mental Health Service where students can access advice and guidance on issues related to drugs and alcohol. Whilst our own staff and students work together to promote initiatives that promote harm reduction.

“The University reduces fines to incentivise attendance at a drugs education session for students found in possession of drugs in Halls. We would urge any student who thinks they may have an addiction or serious issue relating to drug misuse to contact our Advice and Response Team for appropriate help and support.”

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