7/10 Students Support Staying in the EU - but do they understand the arguments?
Research published today by the Higher Education Policy Institute (HEPI) and YouthSight has found that 70% of students support staying in the EU.
But 3/10 admitted to not having followed the debates closely if at all.
The research polled over one thousand undergraduates and asked them a range of questions in order to determine their position regarding Britain’s membership of the Union.
The Director of HEPI Nick Hillman said of the findings:
The headline results are unequivocal. Students back the UK remaining inside the EU by a huge majority. […] It is clear the UK’s membership of the EU is more popular among students than among the population as a whole.
The last Yougov poll found that only 38% of the wider population supported staying within the union.
The referendum on UK membership could be held as early as next year pending the success of David Cameron’s deal reform negotiations.
There are in excess of two million university students in the country and 89% of them are registered to vote. This means the group potentially has the ability to sway the vote either way.
Despite apparently strong support for remaining within the EU the student vote is far from determined at this stage.
The results suggest that most undergraduates “have not followed the debate closely”. Indeed 29% of those questioned admitted to having given the issue “little thought” or “no thought at all”.
This means that many are liable to change their position as campaigns and media focus begin to ramp up.
There are in excess of one hundred thousand EU students currently studying in UK universities. The university sector not only generates income from the free flow of people into and out of Europe but it is fundamentally important for the free exchange of knowledge and skills on which institutions trade.
In many ways universities are the embodiment of international collaboration. There are nearly four hundred thousand foreign students in Britain and the majority of institutions across the country have multinational students and staff. Perhaps then it is unsurprising that so many would vote against leaving the EU.
But we should be concerned over how uninformed many of the respondents of this survey were. Three in ten knowing little to nothing about the issues at hand is perhaps the most important finding of this research. Students would do well to study the arguments closely especially given that the vote may be only months away.