Exclusive: Student support for Lib Dems collapses to just six per cent

 

Education Editor

Support for the Liberal Democrats amongst student voters has slumped catastrophically since the last election, a new poll reveals today.

A poll of 1,200 students in higher education institutions throughout the UK reveals it has fallen from a high of 50 per cent just before the last election, following leader Nick Clegg's first TV debate of the campaign, to just six per cent in the latest poll.

The result poses a serious risk to the party of losing seats in university cities or towns won at the last election, such as Cambridge and even Mr Clegg's Sheffield Hallam constituency.

Other university towns or cities where the Liberal Democrats currently hold a seat include Bath, Bristol, Cardiff, Edinburgh, Leeds, Manchester and Norwich [University of East Anglia].

The poll also pushes the party into fourth place among student voters, behind Labour (43 per cent), the Conservatives (24 per cent) and the Greens (14 per cent) - and in danger also of being overtaken by UKIP, which has seen a rise in support from two per cent to five per cent.

One of the main reasons for the slump in support is said to be the Liberal Democrats' U-turn on tuition fees when the party changed from supporting a "no fees increase" policy to backing the plan to introduce fees of up to £9,000 a year. 

"The Liberal Democrats' reputation both with students and the general electorate continues to be damaged by their participation in the Coalition Government," concludes the research, which was carried out by YouthSight, a market research company specialising in student issues. "Traditionally the Liberal Democrats have polled better with students than the general public."

This, though, it adds, is no longer the case with their share of the student vote threatening to be lower than the meagre poll ratings they have been getting nationally, where they hover at around 10 per cent.

The poll of students also reveals that they are heavily in support of the UK retaining its membership of the EU, with 83 per cent of those polled saying they would vote "yes" to retain membership if there was a referendum on the issue. The pro-EU vote is perhaps ironic, considering they are not prepared to vote for the party which has been most vigorous in promoting EU membership.

"On the whole," says the report, "UK students tend to adopt a more pro-European stance than the general population where anti-European feeling appears to be rising."

Labour retains a clear lead in first place amongst student voters, polling six per cent higher than their 37 per cent nationally. However, this is down on the figure of a year ago when the party polled 50 per cent amongst students.

By contrast, the Conservatives - though well behind on 24 per cent - have seen a rise in the student vote of between two and three percentage points during the past year.

"The recent upturn in the British economy will mitigate, for some, the desire to cast a protest vote," the report said.

In student circles, it seems that any withering away of support for the main parties is advantaging the Green Party rather than UKIP - as is the case amongst the general public.  The Greens have seen their student vote rise from six per cent to 14 per cent the last election while UKIP has gone up from two per cent to five per cent.

"The Green party appears to be gaining some traction with the general electorate, too, perhaps as a result of environmental issues highlighted by the extreme weather experienced in the UK last winter," the research adds.

In a separate poll of 200 Scottish students, researchers found that they were more likely to vote "no" in the referendum as to whether it should leave the United Kingdom. In all, 58 per cent said they would vote for Scotland to stay in the UK, while 35 per cent would vote for independence. Support for remaining in the UK is higher than amongst the general public where 46 per cent support the idea as opposed to 41 per cent who favour independence.

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Sport
Luis Suarez looks towards the crowd during the 2-1 victory over England
sport
Life and Style
Cheesecake frozen yoghurt by Constance and Mathilde Lorenzi
food + drinkThink outside the cool box for this summer’s frozen treats
News
John Barrowman kisses his male “bride” at a mock Gretna Green during the Commonwealth Games opening ceremony
peopleBarrowman's opening ceremony message to Commonwealth countries where he would be sent to prison for being gay
Sport
Sir Bradley Wiggins removes his silver medal after the podium ceremony for the men’s 4,000m team pursuit in Glasgow yesterday
Commonwealth games Disappointment for Sir Bradley in team pursuit final as England are forced to settle for silver
Sport
Alistair Brownlee (right) celebrates with his gold medal after winning the men’s triathlon alongside brother Jonny (left), who got silver
England's Jodie Stimpson won the women’s triathlon in the morning
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Student

Primary Teacher

Negotiable: Randstad Education Plymouth: Randstad Education Ltd are seeking KS...

Foundation Teacher

Negotiable: Randstad Education Plymouth: Randstad Education Ltd are seeking EY...

NQT's needed

£100 - £120 per day + Paying from £100 to £120 per day: Randstad Education Lee...

Year 6 Teacher

£21000 - £31000 per annum: Randstad Education Leeds: Full time Year 6 class te...

Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Day In a Page

Backhanders, bribery and abuses of power have soared in China as economy surges

Bribery and abuses of power soar in China

The bribery is fuelled by the surge in China's economy but the rules of corruption are subtle and unspoken, finds Evan Osnos, as he learns the dark arts from a master
Commonwealth Games 2014: Highland terriers stole the show at the opening ceremony

Highland terriers steal the show at opening ceremony

Gillian Orr explores why a dog loved by film stars and presidents is finally having its day
German art world rocked as artists use renowned fat sculpture to distil schnapps

Brewing the fat from artwork angers widow of sculptor

Part of Joseph Beuys' 1982 sculpture 'Fettecke' used to distil schnapps
BBC's The Secret History of Our Streets reveals a fascinating window into Britain's past

BBC takes viewers back down memory lane

The Secret History of Our Streets, which returns with three films looking at Scottish streets, is the inverse of Benefits Street - delivering warmth instead of cynicism
Joe, film review: Nicolas Cage delivers an astonishing performance in low budget drama

Nicolas Cage shines in low-budget drama Joe

Cage plays an ex-con in David Gordon Green's independent drama, which has been adapted from a novel by Larry Brown
How to make your own gourmet ice lollies, granitas, slushy cocktails and frozen yoghurt

Make your own ice lollies and frozen yoghurt

Think outside the cool box for this summer's tempting frozen treats
Ford Fiesta is UK's most popular car of all-time, with sales topping 4.1 million since 1976

Fiesta is UK's most popular car of all-time

Sales have topped 4.1 million since 1976. To celebrate this milestone, four Independent writers recall their Fiestas with pride
10 best reed diffusers

Heaven scent: 10 best reed diffusers

Keep your rooms smelling summery and fresh with one of these subtle but distinctive home fragrances that’ll last you months
Commonwealth Games 2014: Female boxers set to compete for first time

Female boxers set to compete at Commonwealth Games for first time

There’s no favourites and with no headguards anything could happen
Five things we’ve learned so far about Manchester United under Louis van Gaal

Five things we’ve learned so far about United under Van Gaal

It’s impossible to avoid the impression that the Dutch manager is playing to the gallery a little
Screwing your way to the top? Good for Lana Del Rey for helping kill that myth

Screwing your way to the top?

Good for Lana Del Rey for helping kill that myth, says Grace Dent
Will the young Britons fighting in Syria be allowed to return home and resume their lives?

Will Britons fighting in Syria be able to resume their lives?

Tony Blair's Terrorism Act 2006 has made it an offence to take part in military action abroad with a "political, ideological, religious or racial motive"
Beyoncé poses as Rosie the Riveter, the wartime poster girl who became a feminist pin-up

Beyoncé poses as Rosie the Riveter

The wartime poster girl became the ultimate American symbol of female empowerment
The quest to find the perfect pair of earphones: Are custom, 3D printed earbuds the solution?

The quest to find the perfect pair of earphones

Earphones don't fit properly, offer mediocre audio quality and can even be painful. So the quest to design the perfect pair is music to Seth Stevenson's ears
US Army's shooting star: Lt-Col Steven Cole is the man Hollywood calls when it wants to borrow a tank or check a military uniform

Meet the US Army's shooting star

Lt-Col Steven Cole is the man Hollywood calls when it wants to borrow a tank or check a military uniform