Although many UK university students believe the June 23 EU referendum is an important step in defining their futures, research suggests that as many as two-thirds may not be aware of when the vote will be held.
A recent survey suggests that as many as 200,000 students could miss out on the vote simply because they are unaware that it will be taking place during the holidays and because they are registered to vote in the wrong place. The findings were issued by University chiefs during a push to ensure that young people will be able to participate in the June 23 vote by registering at their home addresses or requesting postal votes.
NUS vice-president Richard Brooks is asking students to “think ahead,” calling the EU referendum a “once-in-a-generation vote.” He added that the outcome will effect students the most because they will be the ones who must live with the consequences the longest.
Brooks said that students should stop and consider where they will be on the day of the vote. For those who are unsure, he suggests registering at both their school and home addresses, so long as they only vote once. Those who are planning to be on vacation should apply for a postal vote, reports Judith Burns for BBC News.
According to research that had been commissioned from YouthSight by Universities UK, one in five students are currently registered to vote in the place where they are studying. However, only 56% of this group said they would physically be in that location on the day of the referendum, with 25% saying they would be elsewhere.
Other results show that of the slightly more than 2,000 students who were interviewed for the survey, 63% were unaware of the date the vote was set to take place on, and 54% had no idea that it was happening in June.
Perhaps most surprisingly, on a scale of one to ten in terms of how likely they were to vote, the average score was 8.2.
Conservative Prime Minister David Cameron and Labour’s Jeremy Corbyn are issuing appeals, as the remain campaign is concerned over a loss of student support, many of whom support the UK staying in the EU. In all, 46% said they would vote to stay in the EU if they took part, and 29% said they were likely to. Meanwhile, only 9% supported leaving and 5% were thinking about it. Just one in ten were undecided on the issue.
“From this week, universities will be scaling up their efforts to encourage students to register to vote, and to make sure they do so in the right location. It is important that students think about where they are likely to be on 23 June 2016 and also to consider registering to vote by post or by proxy,” said Nicola Dandridge, chief executive of Universities UK.
Any students who would like to register to vote need to do so before June 7. Applications for postal votes will come to an end at 5 pm on June 8.