Student groups and leaders have issued a last-minute plea for young people to vote Remain in the EU referendum in order to stop further tuition fee increases.
On the eve of the referendum - which has the highest number of voters ever recorded for a UK election - 170 students’ unions, NUS leaders, student campaigns, and youth wings of political parties have warned that a Leave victory would be “a massive defeat” for all students.
The signatories add: “A vote to leave the EU - which provides 15 per cent of Britain’s university funding, and a vital targeted 75 million to British colleges - would provide an obvious hock for further fee increases and marketisation.
“But this vote is about more than money - it is about the kind of world we want to live in. We want an open, pluralist society. We value the freedom to study and work on the continent, as tens of thousands of young British people do every year. The European students who study at British universities - like the European migrants who come here to work - enrich our lives and the society we live in.”
The letter also highlights how housing shortages, low wages, and overstretched public services are problems that “do not arise from migration,” adding: “They are the product of decades of failed government policy and an economic system which exploits us for the benefit of the rich.”
Deborah Hermanns, representative for EU students within the NUS, described the polls as being “extremely close” with every vote counting. She said: “We need students - and anyone who cares about education - to come out, vote Remain, and campaign every step of the way.
“This referendum is about what kind of society we want to live in and, for the overwhelming majority of young people, that is an open, forward-looking, and progressive one.”
The letter has come on the day young respondents to an NME survey described how both Leave and Remain campaigns have failed to speak to young people.
One 26-year-old respondent said: “I don’t feel like I’ve been given the information I need. There’s been a lot of political game-playing: both sides have skewed the facts and misrepresented figures. I don’t trust either side to represent the situation truthfully.”
Overall, Remain won over this audience with the majority - 59 per cent - of respondents planning on voting In, compared to just 32 per cent who say they will vote Leave.
NME’s survey has come shortly after another by graduate career app, Debut, revealed a staggering 81 per cent of students out of 12,000 will be voting for the UK to stay in the EU, while just 10 per cent will be voting Leave, suggesting for the first time that the student contingent could swing the campaign in the opposite direction.
Debut’s chief executive described how people expect students to be “apathetic” towards political and societal issues, insisting that survey has shown otherwise.
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