Bid to make University of Buckingham drug-free called ‘misguided’ by think tank - and Sir Anthony now thinks so too

The University of Buckinghams vice chancellor was branded misguided by a leading drugs policy foundation after he outlined his views on campus drug use this week.
The University of Buckinghams vice chancellor was branded misguided by a leading drugs policy foundation after he outlined his views on campus drug use this week.

The University of Buckingham’s vice chancellor was branded ‘misguided’ by a leading drugs policy foundation after he outlined his views on campus drug use this week.

In a blog written for the Sunday Times on April 29, titled ‘Why I’m Making The University of Buckingham Drug Free’, vice-chancellor Sir Anthony Seldon wrote: “We plan to ask our students to sign a contract that makes it clear that they will not take drugs,” declaring that students will be asked to leave if they persist.

Mr Seldon has since clarified to this newspaper that he no longer sees this as a viable option and no students will be disciplined for not signing contracts.

He added that instead the university is working to crackdown on drug pushing on campus.

Recently - in a move which the university says they believe has not been replicated elsewhere - police sniffer dogs were invited onto campus to ensure that no illicit activity was taking place.

Sir Anthony says that while he was at Oxford University in the 1970’s, less than 10% of students took drugs ‘in his judgement’, before referring to recent figures released by the National Union of Students showing that 56% of current students have tried an illegal substance.

The vice-chancellor believes that this increase is placing students at risk of mental health problems and even suicide, writing: “I see drugs as a massive cause of damage to happiness and as a contributor to mental ill-health.”

In the blog he also laments the death of Hester Stewart, a former student of his at Brighton College.

Hester’s cause of death was drug toxicity and the presence of ethanol, after recreationally taking a legal high with her then boyfriend.

Danny Kushlick, founder of Transform Drug Policy Foundation which campaigns for drug regulations focused on harm reduction, said: “People use drugs because they provide pleasure and relief, despite the risks.

“Banning drug use in wider society has put people who take them in further danger,” adding “Sir Anthony and the University should rethink this misguided plan and seek advice from health and drug professionals who work with young people before embarking on a policy that could put their students in further danger.”

Sir Anthony also recalled his own unpleasant experience with cannabis during his final school year.

He said: “I felt I was going out of my mind - it was terrifying.”