Students must register to vote to make their voice heard

Posted by ap507 at May 31, 2016 09:45 AM |
Professor Paul Boyle discusses the EU referendum on 23 June as a once-in-a-generation opportunity for young people to influence their futures

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The EU referendum on 23 June is a once-in-a-generation opportunity for young people to influence their futures.  Among them are two million students eligible to vote – but will they be able to?

Unless they act now, students who are not registered to vote where they will be living on 23 June will miss out. A recent poll found that half of university students will no longer be at their term-time addresses on polling day.

Rescuing the vote is easy – students can either re-register at the address where they will be on polling day, register at both home and university, apply to vote by post, or arrange a proxy vote for someone else to vote on their behalf.  But it must be done by 7 June and, worryingly, half of university students in the East Midlands do not even know when the vote will be held, according to a poll this month for UniversitiesUK.

The timing is difficult for students who are at their busiest, sitting exams, finishing dissertations or seeking jobs. That’s why the University of Leicester and its Students’ Union have launched an information campaign and issued guidance.  Registration can be done on-line at https://www.gov.uk/register-to-vote and takes three minutes. 

University of Leicester students make up a significant proportion of the population of the city in term-time and there will be thousands more from Leicester families at universities and colleges across the UK and abroad. Their vote could make a significant difference to the outcome.

If Britain leaves the EU – and that is not something I personally want to see  – the repercussions will be felt the longest by younger people who have yet to build careers, buy homes and start families. An exit would also have a stifling effect on the University of Leicester as it rises up the global rankings and plays an even bigger part in the life of the city and region.

Not only is the university one of the biggest employers in the city but it has widespread links with local businesses and industry and brings together researchers from across the world to address the health, environmental and employment challenges that face us here in the East Midlands and across the UK. 

Universities are campaigning to stay in the EU because we believe that to leave would impoverish our research, our academics, our students and our international campuses and outreach.  Outside the EU we would find it harder to recruit talented researchers from abroad and attract a truly international mix of students: things that also benefit our home students.  It is up to students - as well as individual members of staff - to decide for themselves whether or not they agree. But whatever they decide, students must register to vote to make their voice heard.

  • Professor Paul Boyle is President and Vice-Chancellor of the University of Leicester

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