Just 12% of young people think politicians value their views, NUS poll finds

NUS conference gen vote

In a poll of nearly 2000 further and higher education students this month, students tell the National Union of Students (NUS) that only 12 per cent of them agree that politicians value the views of young people.

Today (22nd May) is the final day students can register to vote in the General Election. NUS and students’ unions across the country have been running voter registration drives encouraging students to register at home and at their institutions. NUS’ voter registration campaign, #GenerationVote, has supported students to register in their thousands. NUS visited colleges and universities in Norwich, Birmingham, Brighton, Bristol, Wolverhampton and Sheffield to run voter registration activity on campuses last week. Students’ unions themselves have been working tirelessly over the last 2 weeks delivering voter registration activities, including unions and associations at Sussex Downs College, Ayrshire College, Oxford University, University of Manchester, Aberystwyth University and the University of Sunderland.

Voter registrpaper regation among 18-24 year olds has been falling steadily since the seventies, with recent government reforms such as the introduction of individual voter registration (2014-15) resulting in even more students falling off the electoral register.  However, the number of young voters leapt up by 20% between the 2015 general election and the EU referendum.

NUS’ survey also revealed that 83 per cent of registered students are planning on voting on June 8th. Of the 8 per cent who said they were not planning to vote, they cited that they were either undecided on who to vote for (43 per cent) or that politicians don’t keep their promises (34 per cent) as the main reasons for not voting.

When we asked students to rank the issues they cared about the most, over half of all respondents (57 per cent) stated the NHS was the most important issue to them in this election, followed by the cost of living (31 per cent), education (30 per cent) and Brexit (26 per cent). Significantly more FE students rated cost of living as a priority for them, and a significantly higher proportion of HE students cited Brexit as a key issue for them.

Only 37 per cent of students believe that the issues that matter to them also matter to the candidates standing in their
constituencies.

Over half agreed that the free movement of UK and EU students is important (58 per cent), and that the UK is a welcoming place for students from outside the UK (51 per cent).

NUS President Malia Bouattia says:

“It is imperative that those students who have still not registered to vote get registered today. Students and young people must take an active role in shaping our own futures and this election plays an integral role in starting to do just that.

It is hardly surprising that only 12 per cent of students think politicians value the views of young people. We have seen policy after policy dismantle opportunities for young people, from the trebling of tuitions fees and the removal of EMA to the rise of exploitative zero hour’s contracts and a housing market we cannot access.

NUS and students’ unions have been working hard to get students back onto the electoral register so they can get their voices heard at the ballot box this June. Political parties and parliamentary candidates must now make sure their policies speak to young people. They must promise us a future of opportunity- not more of the same.

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