Student Electoral Registration - More Student Voters Please!

18 Apr 2017

At the heart of any democracy is the principle of representation, and Jo Johnson MP, Minister of State for Universities, Science, Research and Innovation has invited HEFCE (Higher Education Funding Council for England) to support measures to promote student electoral registration.

It is an on-going challenge to ensure that students actually register to vote. The Office for National Statistics regularly publishes statistics about the number of people in the UK, which shows that around 3/4 million people turn 18 every year and are eligible to vote, yet only a relatively modest percentage actually vote.

Back in June 2016 for example, The Independent estimated that only 36% of people in the 18-24-year-old age-range voted in the EU Referendum. So approximately 2/3rds of typical student age people essentially had no input into the final result.

And this issue is even more important now that Prime Minister Theresa May has recently announced her intention to hold a snap General Election on 8 June 2017.

If you want your voice to be heard then you need to vote.

Jo Johnson had this to say about this issue in his recent letter to HEFCE:

"I invite your cooperation in taking forward measures to promote student electoral registration within the Higher Education sector and to encourage the take-up of good practice.

The Government is committed to creating a democracy that works for everyone. We are taking forward a number of initiatives to meet this objective, including with respect to increasing student electoral registration. Further detail will be provided in the Government’s Democratic Engagement Strategy, which will be published this Summer.

It is vital that younger people have the ability to vote if we are to have a healthy democracy and we would like to invite the Council to assist the Government in achieving this. While we commend the good work that is already being carried out by many providers we want to encourage further efforts to improve levels of student registration.

It is widely recognised that sharing good practice is vital in improving electoral registration outcomes. That is why the Cabinet Office is currently reviewing the outcomes of various electoral registration models that are being used by a number of institutions. This includes the model applied by the University of Sheffield whose project was part-funded by Government.

The Cabinet Office intends to publish an assessment of this model, and others in use, in the near future.

Furthermore, the Minister for the Constitution will be meeting with university Vice Chancellors in May to encourage them to support student electoral registration in their institution by using whichever model tested elsewhere will work best in their situation.

We would welcome assistance from the Council in encouraging Higher Education providers to adopt the good practice that has been identified through this exercise."

The 'model' that the University of Sheffield adopted was simple but quite effective. It saw students register to vote as part of the start-of-term university registration process, rather than having to do it separately. 

This had a big impact on the number of new students registering to vote in Sheffield:

"In the first year, 75 per cent of students (14,481) joined the electoral roll and in 2015-16, that number rose to 15,352 (76 per cent of students). This is compared with figures as low as 13 per cent for similar sized universities." Source 

You can learn more about the process of registering to vote here and here.

If you haven't yet registered to vote then you should do so immediately, as there is now less than 2 months to go until the General Election, and there will be a cut-off point considerably before that date after which you will not be allowed to vote in the General Election on 8 June 2017 (the local elections on 4 May 2017, for example, are already closed to new registrants, even if they registered in the middle of April).


Registering to vote is a very easy process.

You can register to vote online (a process which shouldn't take more than 5 minutes according to their guidelines) here.


Stuart Brown
Media and Content Manager

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