Most U.K. Students Don’t Know EU Referendum Date, Poll Finds

Photographer: Scott Barbour/Getty Images
  • Half of students may be registered in wrong place for June 23
  • Almost 2 million students among 40 million-plus electorate

More than half of British university students don’t know the date of the referendum on European Union membership and many are at risk of missing the chance to vote because they’re on the electoral register in the wrong place, a survey found.

A poll of more than 2,000 students carried out this month for Universities U.K., which represents more than 100 institutions, showed that 63 percent were unaware the vote is taking place on June 23 and 54 percent didn’t even know the month in which it is being held. Only half of the students registered at their college addresses are likely to be there on polling day, meaning they will have to re-register elsewhere or apply for a postal or proxy vote.

The findings are important because opinion polls indicate greater support for staying in the EU among younger voters, and students account for nearly 2 million out of an electorate of more than 40 million. While phone polling published this week has shown clear leads for “Remain,” more frequent online surveys have suggested the race may still be too close to call. Lower turnout among the young may hand “Leave” an advantage.

“The decision made on June 23 will impact young people and students the most as they are the ones that will live with the consequences for the longest,” National Union of Students Deputy President Richard Brooks said in an e-mailed statement. “If students don’t want their future decided for them, it is essential that as many as possible get out and vote.”

The deadline to register to take part in the referendum is June 7, and people have until the following day to apply for a postal vote. Universities U.K. and the NUS are supporting a drive to get students signed up at colleges across the country.

The survey, intended to be representative of all those attending colleges, was conducted by YouthSight between May 4 and May 11.

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