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UCC among Irish colleges recognised for alcohol awareness efforts

28 Aug 2019
Higher Education Minister Mary Mitchell O’Connor and Dr Michael Byrne, Head of Student Health Service, UCC. Photo: DCU

REACT (Responding to Excessive Consumption of Alcohol in Third Level)  is a UCC led, joint initiative between the Union of Students in Ireland (USI), the Irish Student Health Association (ISHA) and UCC Health Matters. 

At the inaugural presentation ceremony for the REACT in Dublin City University, The Minister of State for Education Ms Mary Mitchell O’Connor recognised the students and staff in 10 of Ireland’s 3rd level institutions for their efforts to reduce harm experienced by students from excess use of alcohol. The minister congratulated the 10 institutions involved in this ground-breaking initiative. The minister presented the REACT award; a plaque and a flag to Mr Paul Moriarty, Director of Student Experience, UCC. Also present from UCC were representatives from the Students Union, UCC Health Matters, Student Counselling & Development, International Office.

REACT is an awards and accreditation scheme for 3rd level institutions who implement an action plan in partnership with their students and student leaders that seeks to reduce the adverse consequences of excess alcohol consumption. Institutions were required to complete 8 mandatory actions and pick from a larger suite of 18 optional actions to devise and implement their own institution-specific local action plans rolled out over the past 4 years.

In 2015, 15 of the country’s 3rd level institutions expressed an interest in committing to the programme, which was developed by UCC Health Matters in collaboration with the Union of Students in Ireland and the Irish Student Health Association and jointly funded by the HSE and the Philanthropic Tomar Trust. Over the 4 years, 10 of the institutions continued their efforts and details of their actions were submitted for evaluation and accreditation by independent reviewers in June this year, with all 10 recognised at the awards ceremony today.

Amongst the many actions implemented across the institutions were the provision of an on-line behavioural change tool on alcohol for incoming first year students, the inclusion of alcohol and intoxication as a named hazard to be considered in planning and running large scale student events and the training of university staff in the delivery of screening and brief intervention therapy.

UCC has a well-developed Student Community Support in operation where multiple pairs of trained students are on the streets surrounding campus at night in the weeks of peak social activity, assisting their fellow-students. UCC also offer alcohol-free accommodation.

A key part of the success of the initiative has been the support of the Union of Students in Ireland and the local student leaders in each of the participating institutions. Dr. Michael Byrne, Head of Student Health, UCC, is the Director of REACT

The institutions who received the REACT award were University College Cork, Dublin City University, IT Sligo, IT Tralee, Letterkenny IT, Limerick IT, Mary Immaculate College, National University of Ireland Galway, Trinity College Dublin, and University of Limerick.

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