University chiefs in push to ensure students registered to vote in right place


Up to 200,000 students face missing out on a vote in the EU referendum because they do not know it is taking place in the holidays and are registered to vote in the wrong place, a survey has found.

University chiefs issued the findings as they promoted a push to ensure young voters are able to have their say on June 23 by registering at home addresses or requesting postal votes.

The Remain campaign is worried it might miss out on the support of students, who the poll confirmed are strongly in favour of the UK staying in the European Union - with the main party leaders both issuing appeals.

Research commissioned from YouthSight by Universities UK found one in five students were registered to vote solely where they were studying - but only 56% of those actually expected to be there on June 23.

A quarter said they would definitely be elsewhere.

Of just over 2,000 students surveyed, 63% could not name the date of the vote and 54% were not even aware it was being held in June.

That is despite most (54%) saying they had given the question some thought and another quarter "a lot of thought"- with 48% saying they would definitely vote.

On a scale of one to 10 in terms of likelihood to vote, the mean score was 8.2.

In a clear signal of why the Remain campaign was so keen to mobilise the student vote, 46% said they would definitely vote in if they took part and 29% probably would - compared with 9% certainly backing Brexit and 5% leaning that way.

One in 10 remain undecided.

Almost three-quarters believed the outcome would have a significant effect on them.

Among those most likely to cast a ballot, 52% were firmly for Remain and 26% probably, with only 7% and 6% on the Brexit side.

Nearly two million students are eligible to vote.

Nicola Dandridge, chief executive of Universities UK, said: "While it is good that many students are interested in the outcome of the referendum, it is of real concern that so many are unaware of the referendum date and of the fact that they may have to re-register to vote at another address.

"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 June 23 2016 and also to consider registering to vote by post or by proxy.

"With nearly two million UK students eligible to vote in the referendum, it is vital that they have all the necessary information to make sure they can take part in this hugely important decision."

Richard Brooks, deputy president of the National Union of Students, said: "The decision made on June 23 will impact young people and students the most as they are the ones that will live with the consequences for the longest.

"If students don't want their future decided for them, it is essential that as many as possible get out and vote.

"We are calling on all students to think ahead about where they will be on June 23 and to register or re-register at that address.

"If they are unsure about where they will be, students can register at both their term-time and home address, providing they only vote once."

The deadline for registration is June 7 - with applications for postal votes closing at 5pm on June 8.