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This is an excellent idea from the Labour Party, as higher education organisations prepare for their latest intake of students.

The Conservatives know the best way to kill democracy is to discourage young people from taking an interest in it; make it seem dull. That way, they can concentrate all their policies on helping a very small number of interest groups – along with pensioners, who remember (or at least remember learning about) the struggle to get the vote for ordinary people in the first place.

If the UK is to become a vibrant democracy again, young people must be educated in its value. Universities seem a great choice of venue for this to happen.

Labour is contacting every university leader in the country to encourage them to get even more students to vote.

Cat Smith, Labour’s shadow minister for voter engagement, is encouraging vice-chancellors to act after a program at Sheffield University saw voter registration soar amongst students.

[She has written] urging principals to “integrate voter registration as part of your start-of-term enrolment process” to help people vote.

Young people are overwhelmingly more likely to back Labour. This fact, coupled with higher than average turnout in student areas such as Reading and Canterbury, is thought to partially explain the party’s gains in these areas.

“Building an inclusive democracy that works for many and not the few requires active participation from citizens of all ages and backgrounds. However, as one of the most mobile and transient groups, students continue to fall off the electoral roll every year,” Smith adds in her letter, sent alongside shadow higher education minister Gordon Marsden.

There is a significant variation in the numbers of students registered to vote between universities, with some reporting figures as low as 13 per cent, compared to 76 per cent at Sheffield.

Read more: Sign up students to vote and boost democracy, Cat Smith tells universities


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