Students in Leicester encouraged to register for EU referendum - or risk not being able to vote

Posted by pt91 at May 20, 2016 04:59 PM |
University of Leicester and Students’ Union campaign for students to register to vote by 7 June

Issued by University of Leicester Press Office on 20 May 2016

The University of Leicester and its Students’ Union have spearheaded campaigns to highlight the importance of students registering to vote for the EU referendum.

Since the start of the academic year, a range of initiatives have highlighted the importance of the referendum and for students to have their say.

These include facilitating registration in social areas of the Union, direct communications with students about the EU referendum vote, social media campaigns and letters being placed in every study bedroom in the University.

Professor Paul Boyle, President and Vice-Chancellor of the University of Leicester, said: “Students in Leicester, together with others up and down the country, could play a decisive role in the EU referendum on 23 June. The EU referendum is a once in a generation decision, so it is all the more vital that young people have their say. I would not want any of our students to lose out on their chance to vote because they were not registered or were registered to vote in the wrong place. It is why we are supporting the initiative by Universities UK, the NUS and others to urge everyone to register to vote by 7 June.”

The importance of Leicester’s work is highlighted by a new poll published today which shows that half of university students in the East Midlands do not know when the EU referendum is taking place.

The poll, conducted by YouthSight for Universities UK, reveals also that, while a high proportion of students from across the UK are interested in the outcome, many risk not being able to vote because they are not registered at the address where they will be on 23 June 2016, the date of the referendum.

Rachel Holland, President of the University of Leicester Students’ Union said: “Whatever decision is made on June 23rd, it is young people and students who are going to be affected the most. It is clear that a large number of young people have an interest in the results of the EU Referendum, which is encouraging, but if we want to ensure the outcome of the referendum is truly reflective of the UK’s opinion on the European Union it is vital that the almost 2 million students in the UK are registered to vote, and know where they’re going to be on the 23rd of June.

“The recent changes to voter registration have impacted those in HMOs and students halls the most, and it is key that if students are unsure whether they’re registered, then it’s better to be safe than sorry and re-register before June 7th at both their term-time and home addresses.”

Almost two million UK students are eligible to vote in the June referendum and huge efforts have been made by universities and colleges across the UK to increase student voter registration numbers. However, the date of the referendum – outside of term-time – means many students who registered to vote at the recent local elections (5 May), may need to re-register if they will be at a different address on 23 June.

Polls show that young people are much more likely to want to stay in Europe, whereas older people  - who are much more likely to vote - are more likely to want to leave. If young people don’t want this momentous decision taken for them, they need to register to vote so they can make their voice heard on 23 June.

If students aren’t sure which address they’ll be at, they can register at both their term-time and home address – although they can only vote once. If students aren’t sure where they’ll be at either location, if they will be on holiday or if they can’t get to their polling station for any reason,  they should consider registering for a postal or proxy vote.

Across the UK, the poll reveals that only half (56%) of students registered only at their term-time address are likely to be there on polling day. A quarter (25%) who said they are registered only at their university address, confirmed they won’t be there on 23 June.

This week, in a bid to help get students referendum ready, universities in the East Midlands are supporting  a  major student registration drive led by Universities UK, the National Union of Students and the Association of Colleges. Students from across the East Midlands will be encouraged to register, re-register or apply for a postal vote, depending on their circumstances.

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.

“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.

“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 EU referendum is a once in a generation vote. The decision made on the 23 June 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 on 23 June 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. If they are going to be on holiday or are heading to Glastonbury they should apply for a postal vote by 5pm 8 June.”

People have until 7 June 2016 to register if they want to vote in the EU referendum. Students and young people can find out more information about how to vote in the EU referendum at www.aboutmyvote.co.uk and can register to vote at: www.gov.uk/register-to-vote

ENDS

Notes

1. Universities UK commissioned YouthSight to conduct a poll of UK students ahead of the EU referendum. YouthSight conducted a Student Omnibus survey with 2,007 UK students over the course of seven days, between 4 and 11 May 2016, including  201 UK students in universities in the East Midlands.   Quotas were set to reflect the UK student population in terms of gender, course year and university type. Targets for the quotas were acquired using data supplied by HESA.

The national research can be viewed at http://www.youthsight.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/05/YouthSight-UUK-Students-EU-Poll-Final-Data-Tables-190516.zip

2. Questions focused on asking students whether they were registered and where, as well as whether or not they will vote and what issues are important to them in relation to the referendum.

3. With reference to the third of students eligible to vote (32%) who should apply for a postal/proxy vote – this is based on the numbers who said they won’t be able to get to their polling station, or are not sure if they will be at the address they are registered at on 23 June.

4. People must register by 7 June if they want to vote in the EU referendum on 23 June. Eligible people can register to vote at: www.gov.uk/register-to-vote.

5. To register quickly, people should have their national insurance number ready. If people don’t know what their number is they can visit gov.uk/apply-national-insurance-number.

6. Universities UK is the representative organisation for the UK’s universities. Founded in 1918, its mission is to be the definitive voice for all universities in the UK, providing high quality leadership and support to its members to promote a successful and diverse higher education sector. With 133 members and offices in London, Cardiff (Universities Wales) and Edinburgh (Universities Scotland), it promotes the strength and success of UK universities nationally and internationally. Visit: www.universitiesuk.ac.uk

7. The FNs – Observer poll http://www.theguardian.com/politics/2016/apr/02/eu-referendum-young-voters-brexit-leave

HEPI polling done by Youthsight specifically on student support for the EU (http://www.hepi.ac.uk/2015/11/30/seven-10-students-want-uk-stay-eu-change/).

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