Edition 181 - May 2016

Half of UK students could miss Referendum–Interest does not vote

A recent poll commissioned by Universities UK, executed by YouthSight, reveals that a large proportion of students in the UK risk missing the opportunity to make their voices heard, due to the fact they are registered under addresses they will not be present at during voting-day, or are entirely unaware of the referendums date of 23 June 2016.

The poll that is based on over 2000 student responses, representing the nearly 2 million eligible to vote, shows:

  • A whopping 63% of student were unable to name the referendum date
  • An unawareness of the month in which the referendum is to take place was found in 54% of students
  • Merely 56% of the student population that registered to vote at their university/study address, are likely to actually be present at this local at the day of the referendum. (the referendum date falling exactly into the holiday/outside of term period)
  • A near third of students eligible to vote (32%), would need to apply for postal or proxy voting, due to inability to be at their polling stations of registered addresses.   

Although almost three quarters (72%) of students believe the referendum’s outcome to be of significance and impact their futures, one in ten students remains undecided of their voting inclination – 46% being decided and 29% likely to place a vote in favour of remaining in the EU, contrasting 9% certain and 5% likely to back the Brexit.   

In a collective surge to support students to cast their votes, Universities UK, the National Union of Students, and the Association of Colleges are advancing a major movement for registration at campuses across the UK. Universities are scaling up their efforts, spreading awareness, provoking consciousness of students’ location for the voting day, and are calling on them to register, re-register or apply for postal/proxy voting.

The President of the National Union of Students terms the referendum as a ‘’once in a generation vote’’ ,  of which the long term impact will be experienced by young people the most, and thus it be decisive that students cast their votes if they wanted to avoid external sources to decide their futures.

Efforts of the academic and scholarly community to mobilise the student vote now have a small window - the 7/8 of June marking the closing dates for registration or postal voting – to increase the political awareness and engagement of those students not yet guaranteed to make their voices count.    

Universities UK student poll

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