2015 General Election: could students tip the balance of power?

Students 'hold the key' to the next general election, says NUS president

university students
(Image credit: Getty Images)

Student votes are likely to swing towards Labour in 2015 after the Liberal Democrats failed to deliver on their promises regarding tuition fees, a new report has found.

A study on the electoral power of full time students by the Higher Education Policy Institute (HEPI) found that student votes in next year's general election will primarily hinge on the different parties’ policies on tuition fees.

The 2014 European election saw a surge in students’ votes for the Greens, but the Labour Party has recently seen a big increase in popularity among university students, the report says.

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Professor Stephen Fisher, co-author of the study, said that the Liberal Democrats managed to attract the votes of students in 2010 election, largely due to their promise to scrap tuition fees. But the trebling of fees in England by the coalition government has weakened the prospects of both the Liberal Democrats and the Conservatives among students. Students are also less likely than any other group to vote Ukip, the report added.

“If maintained to next year’s general election, the Liberal Democrats are likely to do noticeably worse in constituencies with large numbers of student voters”, Professor Fisher said. According to the report's findings, Lib Dems Leader Nick Clegg could lose his seat in Sheffield Hallam, due to the area's large population of students.

Nick Hillman, director of the HEPI and co-author of the report said that students will only be able to make a difference in next year's election if they register and turn out to vote.

The president of the National Union of Students, Toni Pearce, told the BBC "Students hold the key to the next general election, and we will be making sure they use it."

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