According to a major pre-election poll, Labour’s support among students is higher now than in the lead-up to the last three elections, with the proportion of Labour-supporting students double that of April 2005.
The poll, commissioned by the Higher Education Policy Institute and YouthSight, found that there is a gender difference in support for Labour, with 61% of female students supporting Labour compared to 47% of male students. Twice as many male students as female support the Conservatives.
Whilst Labour enjoys increased support amongst students, the Lib Dems have still not recovered from losing student support over tuition fees. Despite opposing Brexit, they currently have only a 12% share of the student vote, compared to a 30% to 40% share in previous elections.
Ben Marks, managing director of YouthSight, comments: “Given the strong support from students for the Remain side in the referendum and the centrality of Brexit at this election, it is most surprising that the Liberal Democrats have benefited so little from their unequivocal opposition to Brexit.
“They will have to work a lot harder to try and cleanse their brand of the damage inflicted by their volte face on student fees seven years ago, when most of the current undergraduate electorate was below voting age.”
55% of students planning to vote in a General Election held ‘tomorrow’ would vote Labour, whilst 18% would vote Conservative and 12% would vote Lib Dems.
Important Issues to Students
The EU and the NHS come above all other areas of concern for student voters, as two-thirds of students opted for each one when asked to pick their top three issues facing the country. Education, (30%), jobs (24%) and the economy (22%) polled as the next most pressing issues for the country.
Surprisingly, ‘personal debt’ only featured in 4% of student’s choices, despite common assumptions that students are preoccupied with indebtedness.
Registration and Turnout
Around 93% of students say they are registered to vote, with 60% saying they are ‘absolutely certain’ to vote in the General Election on the 8th June. Polling suggests 68% of students currently intend to do so in their home constituency and 25% in their university constituency.
This could lead to a lessened impact from the concentrated student vote in marginal university seats, but on the other hand students’ home seats may be more marginal than their university seats anyway.
A majority of students who are planning to cote are willing to consider voting tactically.
Nich Hillman, Director of HEPI, highlights: ‘There are over a million undergraduates entitled to vote at this election and they are concentrated in certain constituencies. They are an important group of voters, but only if they choose to wield their power’.
‘An overall majority of students who have made up their mind support Jeremy Corbyn. But it is not a forgone conclusion that this will win Labour extra MPs on 8th June. This is partly because students want more information, partly because their vote could be more dispersed than usual and partly because many students are willing to vote tactically.’