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.

Arts and Entertainment
Gregg Wallace in Summer's Supermarket Secrets
tv All of this year's 15 contestants have now been named
Arts and Entertainment
Inside the gallery at Frederick Bremer School in Walthamstow
tvSimon Usborne goes behind-the-scenes to watch the latest series
Life and Style
A picture taken on January 12, 2011 shows sex shops at the Paris district of Pigalle.
newsThe industry's trade body issued the moratorium on Friday
News
Winchester College Football (universally known as Winkies) is designed to make athletic skill all but irrelevant
Life...arcane public school games explained
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
Could we see Iain back in the Bake Off tent next week?
tv Contestant teased Newsnight viewers on potential reappearance
Life and Style
Silvia says of her famous creation: 'I never stopped wearing it. Because I like to wear things when they are off the radar'
fashionThe fashion house celebrated fifteen years of the punchy pouch with a weighty tome
News
i100(and it's got nothing to do with the Great British Bake Off)
News
Angelina Jolie with her father Jon Voight
peopleAsked whether he was upset not to be invited, he responded by saying he was busy with the Emmy Awards
News
Bill Kerr has died aged 92
peopleBill Kerr appeared in Hancock’s Half Hour and later worked alongside Spike Milligan and Peter Sellers
News
news It's not just the world that's a mess at the moment...
Sport
footballPremiership preview: All the talking points ahead of this weekend's matches
News
Keira Knightley poses topless for a special September The Photographer's issue of Interview Magazine, out now
people
Voices
The Ukip leader has consistently refused to be drawn on where he would mount an attempt to secure a parliamentary seat
voicesNigel Farage: Those who predicted we would lose momentum heading into the 2015 election are going to have to think again
Arts and Entertainment
Cara Delevingne made her acting debut in Anna Karenina in 2012
film Cara Delevingne 'in talks' to star in Zoolander sequel
News
i100
Sport
Mario Balotelli pictured in his Liverpool shirt for the first time
football
Life and Style
tech
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Student

Junior Analyst - Graduate - 6 Month fixed term contract

£17000 - £20000 Per Annum Bonus, Life Insurance + Other Benefits: Clearwater P...

Nursery Room Leader

Negotiable: Randstad Education Plymouth: JOB DESCRIPTION - NURSERY ROOM LEADER...

Recruitment Consultants - Banking & Finance

£20000 - £30000 per annum + OTE £40 - £50K first year: SThree: SThree Group an...

Nursery Room Leader

Negotiable: Randstad Education Plymouth: JOB DESCRIPTION - NURSERY ROOM LEADER...

Independent Dating
and  

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

Day In a Page

Ukraine crisis: The phoney war is over as Russian troops and armour pour across the border

The phoney war is over

Russian troops and armour pour into Ukraine
Potatoes could be off the menu as crop pests threaten UK

Potatoes could be off the menu as crop pests threaten UK

The world’s entire food system is under attack - and Britain is most at risk, according to a new study
Gangnam smile: why the Chinese are flocking to South Korea to buy a new face

Gangnam smile: why the Chinese are flocking to South Korea to buy a new face

Seoul's plastic surgery industry is booming thanks to the popularity of the K-Pop look
From Mozart to Orson Welles: Creative geniuses who peaked too soon

Creative geniuses who peaked too soon

After the death of Sandy Wilson, 90, who wrote his only hit musical in his twenties, John Walsh wonders what it's like to peak too soon and go on to live a life more ordinary
Caught in the crossfire of a cyber Cold War

Caught in the crossfire of a cyber Cold War

Fears are mounting that Vladimir Putin has instructed hackers to target banks like JP Morgan
Salomé's feminine wiles have inspired writers, painters and musicians for 2,000 years

Salomé: A head for seduction

Salomé's feminine wiles have inspired writers, painters and musicians for 2,000 years. Now audiences can meet the Biblical femme fatale in two new stage and screen projects
From Bram Stoker to Stanley Kubrick, the British Library's latest exhibition celebrates all things Gothic

British Library celebrates all things Gothic

Forthcoming exhibition Terror and Wonder: The Gothic Imagination will be the UK's largest ever celebration of Gothic literature
The Hard Rock Café's owners are embroiled in a bitter legal dispute - but is the restaurant chain worth fighting for?

Is the Hard Rock Café worth fighting for?

The restaurant chain's owners are currently embroiled in a bitter legal dispute
Caribbean cuisine is becoming increasingly popular in the UK ... and there's more to it than jerk chicken at carnival

In search of Caribbean soul food

Caribbean cuisine is becoming increasingly popular in the UK ... and there's more to it than jerk chicken at carnival
11 best face powders

11 best face powders

Sweep away shiny skin with our pick of the best pressed and loose powder bases
England vs Norway: Roy Hodgson's hands tied by exploding top flight

Roy Hodgson's hands tied by exploding top flight

Lack of Englishmen at leading Premier League clubs leaves manager hamstrung
Angel Di Maria and Cristiano Ronaldo: A tale of two Manchester United No 7s

Di Maria and Ronaldo: A tale of two Manchester United No 7s

They both inherited the iconic shirt at Old Trafford, but the £59.7m new boy is joining a club in a very different state
Israel-Gaza conflict: No victory for Israel despite weeks of death and devastation

Robert Fisk: No victory for Israel despite weeks of devastation

Palestinians have won: they are still in Gaza, and Hamas is still there
Mary Beard writes character reference for Twitter troll who called her a 'slut'

Unlikely friends: Mary Beard and the troll who called her a ‘filthy old slut’

The Cambridge University classicist even wrote the student a character reference
America’s new apartheid: Prosperous white districts are choosing to break away from black cities and go it alone

America’s new apartheid

Prosperous white districts are choosing to break away from black cities and go it alone