The old myth that young people are apathetic to politics could soon be proved wrong. According to a poll by the National Union of Students (NUS), a total of 73 per cent of students are now registered to vote. This is a large increase on a similar poll conducted by the organisation in February which highlighted that only one third of students were on the electoral register.
The data also indicated that 72 per cent of students are likely or highly likely to vote in the general election next May. If the poll has correctly measured students' intentions to vote, the number of 18-24 year olds who will be voting in the 2015 general election will be over 20 per cent higher than the 2010 election when 51.8 per cent of 18-24 year olds turned out.
In the 4 years since the last general election, actor and comedian, Russell Brand, has urged students not to vote in the Westminster elections and instead called for 'spontaneous revolution'. Some feared that the popularity of the celebrity would encourage 18-24 year olds to follow his advice and boycott the vote at next year's election.
Others believed that the coalition's decision to raise university tuition fees, despite the Liberal Democrats campaigning against this action in the lead up to the general election, would also lead to an increase in apathy amongst young voters. However, given that the NUS' Student Opinion Survey indicates that universities are high on the list of issues that will influence how young people vote, it may be that the anger at the Liberal Democrats' broken promise has actually led to a political awakening in young people.
Vice President of the NUS, Raechel Mattey, has expressed her delight in the sharp increase in students planning to vote in the 2015 general election: 'This research is heartening, as it shows that students are well on their way to being a force to be reckoned with in the general election. I think that young people are the key to fixing Britain and our democracy, which is why I'll be campaigning for a new deal for the next generation this year'.
However, while this research implies the next election may see a great victory for democracy in young voters, other recent polls have been in complete antithesis to the NUS' survey. A YouGov poll for the think-tank British Future, published in May, which surveyed 17-21 year olds, indicated that 59 per cent of young people have no intention to vote come the general election.
With surveys concluding very different results, it is hard to know exactly how many young people intend to vote at the next general election. Therefore, while the NUS's research highlighting that nearly three quarters of young people are now registered to vote is a welcome step forward, there is still a lot of work that must be done before we can be certain that young people will be large contributors to next year's election result.