Students poleaxed on a night of drama

Higher education figures survey uncertain landscape as young voters cry foul. Hannah Fearn reports

The country woke up to political uncertainty today as it was confirmed that there will be a hung parliament, with no party securing an overall majority in the general election.

The outcome followed dramatic scenes yesterday as students claimed that they were denied their vote and high-profile MPs, including several with links to higher education, lost their seats.

Among key figures to retain their places in Parliament were David Lammy, the higher education minister; David Willetts, the Conservative shadow universities secretary; and Stephen Williams, their Liberal Democrat counterpart.

However, Charles Clarke, the Labour former education secretary, and Evan Harris, the Liberal Democrat shadow science minister, both lost their seats, as did Bill Rammell, the Labour former higher education minister.

Students in several constituencies complained that they had been unable to vote because polling stations were unprepared for the large numbers who turned out after 6pm.

People queuing to vote in the student-dominated constituencies of Manchester Withington, Sheffield Hallam, Liverpool Wavertree, Hackney South and Shoreditch and the City of Chester were turned away after the polls closed at 10pm.

At the Ranmoor polling station in the Sheffield Hallam constituency of Nick Clegg, the Lib Dem leader, students complained that they had been split into a separate queue from other members of the electorate who were fast-tracked into the polling booths.

In other constituencies, the stations were reported to have run out of ballot papers before the polls were due to close.

Wes Streeting, president of the National Union of Students, said: “Where students and other voters have been disenfranchised, local authorities should hang their heads in shame. It is outrageous that citizens should be denied their basic right to vote, and we demand an inquiry into how this situation occurred.”

The Electoral Commission said the scenes outside the polls were “a serious cause for concern” and that questions would be asked of the returning officers.

“There should have been sufficient resources allocated to ensure that everyone who wished to vote was able to do so. The Electoral Commission will be undertaking a thorough review of what has happened in those constituencies where people have been unable to vote,” it says in a statement.

Elsewhere, the three academic candidates followed during the campaign by Times Higher Education – Adeela Shafi, Conservative candidate in Bristol East; Nader Fekri, Lib Dem candidate in Keighley and Ilkley; and Anneliese Dodds, Labour candidate in Reading East – all failed to win seats.

Already registered?

Sign in now if you are already registered or a current subscriber. Or subscribe for unrestricted access to our digital editions and iPad and iPhone app.

Register to continue  

You've enjoyed reading five THE articles this month. Register now to get five more, or subscribe for unrestricted access.

Most Commented

Universities to scale back liberal arts and social science courses

  • David Humphries illustration (24 September 2015)

A Russell Group tagline rap is further proof that we need to reform the academy’s approach, argues Philip Moriarty

  • World University Rankings

US continues to lose its grip as institutions in Europe up their game

  • World University Rankings 2015-2016 methodology

Change for the better: fuelled by more comprehensive data, the 2015-2016 rankings probe deeper than ever

  • protest, street, march

Even in the academy, your class background will always be a factor in how you are seen, says LSE’s Lisa Mckenzie