With the tightest election in decades approaching, students could make a difference, according to a study by the Higher Education Policy Institute (HEPI).
The study analysed voting patterns from 1997 and found that although students make up only 3% of the population, they could be crucial in deciding a handful of seats.
The National Union of Students (NUS) has launched the ‘New Deal’ website to encourage students to register and engage with the election – they estimate just over 70% of students are registered. After analysing the study we’ve found five key seats that could be decided by the student vote:
1 – University of East Anglia – Constituency: Norwich South
Sitting MP: Lib Dem
Possibly one of very few four-way marginal seats in 2015 – between Labour, Lib Dem, Tories and the Greens. The Lib Dem vote will suffer as students turn their backs on the party. Their votes should benefit the Greens and Labour, who have named it in their top ten target seats for 2015.
2 – Cardiff University/Cardiff Metropolitan – Constituency: Cardiff North
Sitting MP: Conservative
With a majority of just 194 in 2010 the Tories could easily lose this seat to Labour, especially with two universities and over 40,000 students based in the city. If the students turn out to vote, expect them to influence the result.
3 – University of Edinburgh – Constituency: Edinburgh South
Sitting MP: Labour
The recently politicised Scottish youth could really make their mark in Edinburgh. Almost 70% of 16-24 year-olds voted in the Referendum. If a similar amount vote on May 7th then the sitting Labour MP could face trouble from the SNP. The Lib Dems finished second in 2010 by just over 300 votes but again expect a wipeout this time around.
4 – UCLAN – Constituency: Lancaster and Fleetwood
Sitting MP: Conservative
The Tories and Labour will fight this one out again as they try to pinch a share of the Lib Dem vote from 2010 – who picked up 20% of the votes despite finishing third. A large number of those who voted Lib Dem last time around were from the student population so Miliband’s tuition fees promise could prove decisive here.
5 – University of Sussex – Constiuency: Brighton Pavilion
Sitting MP: Green
Home to the possibly the most political university in Britain who have fought privatisation, cops off campus and staged kissing events in Sainsbury’s, the University of Sussex will be key. Caroline Lucas is close to the student body; earlier this year she was photographed with a number of them and often visits the university. If the Green’s are to hold this seat from Labour, they’ll need the student vote.