People have until 7 June 2016 to register if they want to vote in the EU referendum

Students in Exeter encouraged to register to vote in EU referendum

Many students in Exeter risk not being able to vote in the forthcoming EU referendum, according to a new poll.

Only 61 per cent of eligible students in South West know where they will definitely be on the date of the referendum, while only 20 per cent have applied for a postal or proxy vote.

The poll, conducted by YouthSight for Universities UK, also reveals that, while a high proportion of students from across the UK are interested in the outcome, 57 per cent of students in the South West were not able to name the date of the referendum and 48 per cent did not know in which month the referendum is taking place.

Most students surveyed, 78 per cent, think the outcome of the referendum, held on June 23, will have a significant impact on their futures.

Professor Sir Steve Smith, Vice-Chancellor and Chief Executive of the University of Exeter, said: “The European Union funds world-class research at the University of Exeter, which students have access to, and provides unique opportunities for them to study across the continent.

“This is a decision which will have an impact on their studies now, as well as their future lives and careers. It is vital that they are able to have their say in this important decision for the UK.”

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. The date of the referendum, however – 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.

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

The University of Exeter is supporting a major student registration drive led by Universities UK, the National Union of Students and the Association of Colleges. Students 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.”

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

Date: 23 May 2016

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