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New Freshers’ poll shows student support for ‘No’ in referendum

ByStuart McFarlane

Sep 16, 2014
image courtesy of Louise Spence

A poll of new Edinburgh University students’ voting intentions for next week’s independence referendum has revealed a strong lead for the ‘No’ campaign.

The poll conducted by the University’s Politics and International Relations (PIR) Society measured the voting intentions of 313 students, with 212 revealing that they would vote ‘No’, 91 voting ‘Yes’ and a further 17 remaining undecided.

It was conducted over two days at last week’s EUSA Freshers Fair, with students being chosen to take part.

Each student was asked the question ‘Should Scotland become an independent state?’ and answers were taken irrespective of whether they were eligible to vote on September 18.

The organisers of the poll stressed the impact of the large sample size as it provided a wide cross-section of voters and their views about the referendum.

The results reveal a particularly large spike of support for the ‘No’ campaign amongst Commonwealth and EU citizens who qualify to vote in the referendum through Scottish residency.

The president of the PIR Society, Maxwell Greenberg, said: “With a student population nearing 33,000, the students of Edinburgh University will be a critical voting bloc in next Thursday’s referendum.

“Whether or not international students have the vote, these are exactly the sort of globalist and optimistic individuals whose support the ‘Yes’ campaign needs to win.

“Students at Edinburgh University are concerned about job prospects, the environment, and maintaining a strong international presence.

“Many students are concerned that an independent Scotland could jeopardise our EU membership and NATO membership, but are dissatisfied with the attitude towards education in Westminster.”

As the referendum date nears, both sides are seeking to attract every vote possible.

The introduction of sixteen and seventeen-year-old voters into the electoral process for the first time has increased the scrutiny on the views of younger students due to their potentially important role in deciding the referendum outcome.

The University has been visited by several key figures from both sides over the summer, with First Minister Alex Salmond and his deputy Nicola Sturgeon from the ‘Yes’ campaign and former Prime Minister Gordon Brown from the pro-Union side on campus courting the student vote.

This result follows on from a major poll of young voters conducted by researchers from Edinburgh University for BBC Scotland in June last year, which showed that just over 60 per cent of young voters were going to reject independence.

This poll of 1,018 fourteen to seventeen-year-olds also highlighted both a high turnout – with 69 per cent of respondents intending to vote – and a desire for more information from young voters, with just over 67 per cent demanding more information before finally making being able to make up their mind.

By Stuart McFarlane

News Editor

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