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Controlled Drugs: A Code of Practice

The purpose of this code is to ensure that students are aware of the law with regard to the supply, use and possession by students of controlled drugs, with the overall objective of minimising the harmful effects of these substances.

Controlled Drugs1

(1) The University does not allow, in any way, the use of controlled drugs. The possession of controlled drugs is a criminal offence and the possession with intent to supply is a more serious offence. The University would break the law if it permitted controlled drugs to be used or supplied on its property.

(2) The University will not tolerate the use of, or dealing in, controlled drugs on its property. Any students found to be using or in possession of any controlled drug, including cannabis, on University premises will be subject to its disciplinary procedures and the police will be informed.

(3) The University will inform the police of any student suspected of dealing in drugs. We also reserve the right to inform the police about students found to be using or in possession of drugs.

University Disciplinary Procedures2

The University's disciplinary procedures are set out under Section IV of the General Regulations. Major offences include:

  • Serious instances of disorderly conduct causing serious damage to or on University property or premises or seriously affecting good order within or without the University;
  • Conduct which brings the University into serious disrepute, by causing serious reputational damage;
  • Possession of controlled drugs;
  • Offences against the Criminal Law.

A major offence may be punished by rustication (exclusion from the University for one year) or expulsion from the University3.

The University cannot and will not condone any controlled activity committed on University premises but it will endeavour to respond considerately to students who accept that they are having problems related to the use of controlled drugs, provided that the individual concerned co-operates with such treatment and care plans as may be developed for them by health care professionals or other appropriate agencies4.

1 Students and their Visitors affected by these issues are advised to review the advice issued by the National Health Service (NHS) and the Public Health England concerning the significant health effects of drug abuse. The NHS pages also outline the counselling and treatment options that are available, see:

2 Within the legal jurisdiction of “England and Wales”, the law regulating dangerous and otherwise harmful drugs is the “Misuse of Drugs Act 1971”


This legislation defines the concept of criminal offence that underpins the University’s obligation to make a report to the Police. The legal sanctions available to the State are outlined by the Home Office at and all staff, students and visitors are advised that these may be enforced after conviction of drug abuse or selling.

3 Durham University is a collegiate university, with 16 colleges admitting students. If an incident of student misconduct involving illegal drugs arises that is not in violation of the law or a major offence under the University’s General Regulations, the college may apply its own regulations and disciplinary processes to the student member of the college. 

4 In addition the Durham University Counselling Service offers help and guidance and counselling on addictive behaviours, including for drug and alcohol abuse, both in terms of outlining the various counselling options (for example Cognitive Behavioural Therapy) and health risks. The Counselling Service also has participation agreements with local health providers to widen the range of services that students can access. Additionally the Counselling Service will work with individuals not-only on the actual substance abuse concerns, but also on the underlying motivators s that may have led to this abuse. A description of the services offered by the University Counselling can be found at: