Bournemouth University students could turn the tables on local critics and have a greater influence on their local MP after the next general election.
Based on statistics from the Electoral Commission, if every student voted, this would account for 26% of votes in the Bournemouth West constituency. If you compare the current number of students against total votes cast in 2005, the student vote would account for 48% in the constituency.
Local politicians are aware of the potential influence of the student vote. Conservative parliamentary candidate Conor Burns says he is supportive of students and believes they are interested in politics, especially student debt, loans and grants. He said some local residents blame students for the stag and hen party culture in the town. He emphasised that students and local residents need to work together to build a community.
“Bournemouth should welcome the student population, should welcome the university, but with respect. They study here, the live here, and they vote here.”
Student Ben Saunders is registered and will be voting. However, he says this is to please his father. He says politicians need to sort out current economic crisis before looking at student specific issues.
Unlike Ben, Laura Davies is not registered. She thinks she needs to know more about politics in order to vote. However, she is clear that the government needs to offer more financial support to students.
The Liberal Democrats are particularly concerned about students including Laura who aren’t on the electoral register. Local chair, Ben Prescott highlighted some student residences where voter registration forms were not updated with newer residents.
“Obviously this means that the only students then registered to vote are those that happen to be in the same flat/room two years in a row.”
However, if students are reluctant to participate in the Students’ Union, one might consider them even less likely to vote in a national election.
President of Bournemouth University Students Union (SUBU), Fred Ruffle has tried to introduce an “e-ref system” to allow students vote online on union matters. However, low turnout at SUBU Annual General Meetings means this system can’t be introduced.