Seven out of 10 students would vote to stay in the European Union but students are “not a lost cause” for out campaigners, according to a survey carried out by the Higher Education Policy Institute.
Universities UK, the vice-chancellors’ representative group, is campaigning for an in vote, arguing that it would be in the best interests of British universities.
Hepi said that its survey found that although UUK does not represent others in the sector such as students, the organisation’s position “of favouring the UK’s continued membership of the EU while also promoting free and fair debate on campus does still reflect the views of students”.
UUK’s decision to adopt a clear stance on the EU referendum, in contrast to its decision not to on the Scottish independence referendum, has been criticised by some, who believe that the organisation should not have taken sides in a political debate.
Hepi’s report, titled Should We Stay or Should We Go: What Students Think About the Forthcoming Referendum on the UK’s Membership of the EU, is based on a survey of 1,005 students carried out by YouthSight.
Seventy per cent of students would vote for the UK to stay in the EU if a referendum were held tomorrow, says the report.
It adds that “male students were more likely than female students to back leaving (17 per cent against 11 per cent) and less likely to be undecided (13 per cent against 19 per cent)”.
The report continues: “Students are not a lost cause for those campaigning for the UK to leave the EU. Around one-third of students say they have given the topic only ‘little thought’ (21 per cent) or ‘no thought at all’ (13 per cent) and a similar proportion say they hold their views ‘not very strongly’ (27 per cent) or ‘not strongly at all’ (6 per cent).
“Six out of 10 students say they have followed the debates ‘not very closely’ (41 per cent) or ‘not closely at all’ (19 per cent).”