Students' unions are no longer sticky bars filled with beer-swilling students avoiding their lectures.

Today's undergraduates are more likely to be found sipping a coffee in an academic study group than a downing a cheap beer with their mates, new research has found.

Research from YouthSight and the National Union of Students (NUS) reveals that one of the hubs of university life is no longer about cheap beer but is now more about academic clubs, support services and cafés on campus.

Sales of draught and packaged beer in student unions across the country have fallen over the past three years, the NUS said, whereas sales of hot drinks are up 11 per cent in the past year alone.

(Picture: Ed Jones/AFP/Getty Images)

The survey of 1,000 undergraduates found the most useful services for students were the clubs and societies (60 per cent), advice and support (50 per cent) and coffee shop and café facilities (43 per cent), with only 37 per cent identifying bars as the most useful service.

Coffee shops and cafés were the services most used by students (87 per cent), followed by the union shop (81 per cent) and clubs and societies (78 per cent), ahead of bars (74 per cent).

Richard Brooks, NUS vice president for union development, said:

Ten or 15 years ago people went to university, obviously to learn something but also to make friends and have a good time. A lot of policy-makers who I talk to think it's still like when they were at university but since the introduction of the £9,000 a year fees regime in 2012 students have become much more focused on employment prospects.

Today's students are now much more likely to set up an academic society to provide the academic support that they may feel is lacking on their course.

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