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UCC REACT Programme Receives Honorary Award

Alongside ten other third level institutions, UCC staff and students were awarded at DCU for an
Inaugural ceremony on August 28 th due to their efforts in reducing the harm experienced by
students from excessive alcohol consumption. The awards were presented by Minister for State
for higher education, Mary Mitchell O’Connor, and Dr Michael Byrne, Principal Investigator at
REACT and Head of the Student Health Service in UCC.

According to the 2014 National Alcohol Diary Survey, harmful drinking is highest among the
eighteen to twenty-four-year-old group, while 2017 CSO data found that the eighteen to twenty-
four-year-old group in Ireland had the highest rate of binge drinking in the EU. Developed in
2015 by UCC help matters, in collaboration with UCC the Union of Students in Ireland and the
Irish Student Health Association, and jointly funded by the HSE and the philanthropic Tomar
Trust, REACT, (Responding to Excessive Alcohol Consumption in Third Level), is an awards
and accreditation scheme for third level institutions that have implemented an action plan in
partnership with their students and student leaders.

Dr Michael Byrne states that “REACT is about working in partnership with our students to
address the issues of harm from excessive alcohol use. It is an innovative way to encourage
institutions to translate good intentions into actions and paper-based policies into the whole
institution plans.”


Alongside UCC, other third level institutions, such as NUI Galway, Trinity College Dublin,
Limerick IT and University Limerick, to name but a few, were recognised on the same day. The
institutions were required to complete eight mandatory actions and select from eighteen optional
actions to implement their institutions specific action plans, which were rolled out over the past
four years.

Since its development, REACT has brought about a partnership between students, student
leaders, umbrella professional support organisations, the HSE and each institution to facilitate
real and sustained action. UCC, as the forerunner of the programme, operates a well-developed
student community support system 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 Students’ Union states, “The Student Community Support, (SCS), supports the welfare
and safety of students and helps maintain cleanliness of the area surrounding UCC.”

In conjunction with this, UCC campus accommodation also provides the opportunity for students
to avail of alcohol-free accommodation. Higher Education Minister Mary Mitchell O’Connor said,
“the ten winning institutions have strongly aligned themselves with my principles and ambitions
for our higher education student’s wellbeing. What these awards do is highlight something that
is very important to me, that across the sector we have a clear, focused and ongoing
commitment to responding to the issue of excessive alcohol consumption in third level.”

For any students who wish to become involved with the programme, they can find a REACT
online training course at reactalcohol.ie or contact welfare officer, Naoise Crowley.