The National Union of Students insist youngsters caught with cocaine, ecstasy, cannabis or other illegal drugs should be given advice and information instead.
It said harsh punishments for drug use is unfair especially to those from a “liberation background” – defined as women, black ‘LGBT+’ and disabled students.
The call comes in a new report by the NUS which argues disciplining students “fails to recognise the complex reasons that lead people to use drugs”.
And it describes punishing those caught as “archaic and harmful”.
Almost two fifths (39%) of students currently use drugs, and 17% have done so in the past, according to a survey of around 2,800 people conducted by the NUS.
It defines drugs as illegal substances like cannabis, ecstasy and cocaine, as well as non-prescribed drugs and so-called “legal highs”.
The survey showed almost half agreed institutions should not penalise students who take drugs – but more than a quarter disagreed.
The union claimed minority groups would be disproportionately affected because they are more likely than their peers to take drugs to help with a mental or physical health problems.
The guidance comes in a report called ‘Taking the Hit’, commissioned by the NUS Trans Campaign and developed in collaboration with drugs charity Release.
In the last academic year at least 21 students were permanently excluded for drug possession.
And one in four caught with drugs for personal use were reported to the police.
Jess Bradley, NUS Trans Officer said: “The overwhelming narrative is one of students not getting the right support from educational institutions, and of being harmed by punitive drug policies where they are in place.
“It’s clear that our educational institutions must engage in meaningful work to minimise any harms associated with both the criminalisation of students who use drugs and of drug use itself.”
£650k FOR UNI MESS
STUDENTS won £650,000 compensation from universities over problems with courses last year.
The highest payout was £47,000 to a first-year PhD academic whose supervisors refused to give guidance.
Other damages were for issues including poor services and being unf-airly axed from courses.
Around 200 cases were backed by the higher education watchdog, the Office of the Independent Adjudicator.
Law and business and admin students made the most complaints.
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