Student drinking cultures in tertiary education residential accommodation: a contextual research study

Leontini, Rose ORCID: 0000-0001-8987-2603 and Corney, Timothy ORCID: 0000-0002-1980-6835 (2022) Student drinking cultures in tertiary education residential accommodation: a contextual research study. NAD Nordic Studies on Alcohol and Drugs. ISSN 1455-0725


Background: In Australia, harmful drinking among students aged 18–24 years in tertiary education residential accommodation (TRA) remains high, placing students at higher risk of harms than non-TRA and university peers. Aim: The aim of this study was to identify the context-specific factors distinctive to TRAs that supported a heavy drinking culture among students. Conducted across three sites in Melbourne, Australia, the purpose of the study was to inform the development of context-specific harm reduction interventions for these sites. Methods: Five focus groups were conducted with 32 students to examine their lived experience of drinking within the distinctive environments of their TRAs. The data were examined using thematic data analysis. Results: Three themes were identified: (1) routine drinking in TRAs; (2) drinking for social inclusion in the TRA; and (3) TRA alcohol governance and students’ self-regulation. The data show that factors contributing to these TRA drinking cultures included: liberty to store alcohol and drink on campus; freshers’ belief that admission to the TRA was conditional on “partying hard”; students’ belief that staff supported the TRA drinking culture; and poor dissemination and operationalisation of TRA alcohol policy. Collectively, these factors fostered an environment that enabled frequent and heavy alcohol consumption among residents. Conclusions: The TRA drinking cultures were supported by social and regulatory factors specific to these institutions and, in particular, by a liberal approach to TRA alcohol governance and poorly disseminated alcohol policy that made widespread heavy drinking possible. Drinking cultures in TRAs can be changed through appropriate interventions that include nuanced policy and effective governance.

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Item type Article
DOI 10.1177/14550725221143169
Official URL
Subjects Current > FOR (2020) Classification > 3903 Education systems
Current > FOR (2020) Classification > 4410 Sociology
Current > Division/Research > College of Arts and Education
Keywords drinking, drinking culture, tertiary education, VicHealth Alcohol Cultures Framework
Citations in Scopus 1 - View on Scopus
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