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Student News

EU Referendum Student Survey – The Results

Our EU referendum poll shows a large majority of students want to remain part of the EU. And their reasons? Here’s what you told us!
eu refCredit: Michael Coghlan – Flickr
Despite the media claiming that young people weren't making the effort to register to vote in the upcoming EU referendum, we now know otherwise!

Our poll, completed by close to 2,000 Save the Student readers, reveals that in fact 94% of you have successfully registered to vote on June 23rd, and 87% have already made up your mind which way to vote.

So, we thought it was time to put an end to all the speculation and simply ask young people directly: Which way are you voting in the EU referendum, and why?

Still undecided? We have a simplified, impartial overview of the Brexit debate to help you make your decision!

Will Students be voting IN or OUT?


According to our poll, almost three quarters of you (71%) want the UK to remain in the European Union, compared with 17% wanting to leave and 9% still undecided on which way to vote.

Your reasons for staying IN the EU:

– I am concerned for the financial future of our country, and for the potential possibility of workers' rights to decline, without the back up of the EU to withold standards for this

– The EU is a great thing, and brexiters have no idea what we'll do if we leave. I don't trust their uncertainty, their xenophobic rhetoric, and above all I don't trust them to uphold human rights if we were to leave

– There are benefits to leaving the EU one day, but currently only the hard right and the super-rich will benefit, leaving the rest of us isolated

– A united Europe is something worth fighting for.

Your reasons for wanting OUT of the EU:

– We can be an independent, outward-looking nation that prides itself on trade, technological progress, equality and tolerance

– While we might initially suffer a setback through leaving, it will only be temporary. We are strong and will do better out of the EU

– If we Leave the EU we will be briefly financially worse off, but with competent management we could be much better off. A few years of difficulty are worth it. Especially considering recessions and financial troubles are an inevitable part of living in a capitalist world.

Some students aren't voting – here's why

not votingA small percentage of you who took part in the poll said you wouldn’t be voting at all on the 23rd June. As we suspected, some of you cite your reasons for this as being you're either on holiday or at Glastonbury (great timing, huh!) and haven’t registered for a postal vote.

However, half of you who told us you weren’t voting claimed this was due to not being eligible.

One student pointed out:

I am not eligible to vote as I am 17. As a legal adult who is eligible to pay taxes, I am not allowed to vote for what is my future.

16 and 17-year-olds are not allowed to vote in the EU referendum, despite this vote being set to affect young people more than any other UK demographic. This is particularly interesting as Scotland’s 16 and 17-year-olds were allowed to vote in the country’s independence referendum in 2014, so why not this one?

Some of you stated political apathy or a lack of confidence in making the ‘right’ decision as your reason not to vote:

– The media makes it feel like regardless of what we vote, it's going to ruin the country. So who cares?

– I have no idea what's going on or why we're even voting. No one can explain anything. Everyone has an argument based on feelings, intuition and attempts at predicting the future.

– Both parties have scare mongered with incorrect facts when really no one knows ANYTHING

– We need more facts from both sides - not just exaggerated theories!

Are Students concerned about the outcome?


An overwhelming majority of you have claimed you’ve already made up your mind to vote to remain, but still 88% of you admitted that you’re concerned about the outcome of the referendum either way.

This is strikingly evident in a word cloud we created (see below), which indicates the words that popped up most frequently in your comments. As you can see, "uncertainty" is rife in your discussions:

brexit cloud

One student said:

I'm concerned that no matter the outcome, the UK will struggle after this referendum, if we leave we risk economic disadvantages and 'promises' from people who can't enforce them, but if we stay, I'm concerned the EU will look at us differently as a country because it was actually considered leaving.

Amongst the many concerns you voiced, the most prominently cited were political uncertainty, racism dictating voting choices and also the idea that the older population might vote differently to younger people when the outcome is less likely to affect them – or as one student eloquently put it:

I'm worried old people will drag us out of the EU, die, then leave us to clean up the mess.

Has the information been clear and fair?


We also wanted to ask what your thoughts were on the campaigns on either sides, and if you thought they were offering a clear and fair argument – your response was pretty shocking!

Despite what could be a potentially massive student turnout next week, a mere 10% of you think the campaigns on either side have been clear and fair.

One student said:

I think it’s ridiculous that both sides can get away with confusing the public so much and not giving clear, truthful, honest and fair answers to something which will heavily affect everyone.

Some of you claimed frustration at being forced to vote on something you can't feel totally confident about. One of you said:

I have two degrees and do not feel qualified to make such an important decision based on the information that has been given to me and I'm furious that the government has put me in a position where my future is in the hands of the aggressively prejudiced

90% of you have revealed you think the campaign has been muddy. This is extremely concerning for a vote with such a huge potential impact on the lives of young people.

Still struggling to find an clear, unbiased view of both sides? We've got just the ticket! Check out our simplified guide to the Brexit debate.

Better or Worse off if we leave?


financially-better-offWhen asked if you thought you'd be financially better or worse off if the UK was to leave the EU, 60% of you said you thought you'd be worse off, compared with 27% who thought you'd be better off.

A substantial 12% of you said you couldn't speculate either way – a clear indication of just how uncertain the future feels to young people at this time, whichever way the vote goes!

A few words from us...

Owen Burek, Save the Student’s Chief Editor, says:

Students are clearly very worried about the Referendum, and with good reason. They’ve been saddled with substantial debts for degrees, with the promise of better jobs in a strong economy. Uncertainty, particularly around leaving the EU, has compounded anxiety along with the fear-mongering and confusing talk from politicians.

We’ve always encouraged students to speak up and be counted at political crossroads – it’s your future that’s being decided. If you’ve registered, you’ve already done the complicated bit. Now make sure your voice gets heard – vote on June 23rd!


Did you miss the chance to take part in our poll but still have something you'd like to share about the Brexit debate?

Get in touch with us directly or share in the comments below!

Katie Paterson

WRITTEN BY Katie Paterson

Katie Paterson is an accomplished writer from Glasgow. She studied English Literature at the University of Strathclyde, then went on to do a Research Masters in Literature at the University of Amsterdam. As Lead Editor for Save the Student, Katie has covered topics from career tips to ways to make money go further as a student.
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