Students unaware of EU referendum date and many registered at wrong address – new poll

Voting | 19 May 2016

Over half of British university students do not know when the EU referendum is taking place, according to a new poll published today.

The poll, conducted by YouthSight for Universities UK, reveals also that, while a high proportion of students are interested in the outcome, many risk not being able to vote because they are not registered at the address where they will be on 23 June 2016, the date of the referendum.

Almost two million UK students are eligible to vote in the June referendum and huge efforts have been made by universities and colleges across the UK to increase student voter registration numbers. The date of the referendum, however – outside of term-time – means many students who registered to vote at the recent local elections (5 May), may need to re-register if they will be at a different address on 23 June.

The poll reveals that only half (56%) of students registered only at their term-time address are likely to be there on polling day. A quarter (25%) who said they are registered only at their university address, confirmed they won’t be there on 23 June.

From this week, in a bid to help get students referendum ready, Universities UK, the National Union of Students and the Association of Colleges are supporting a major registration drive at campuses and further education colleges across the UK. Students will be encouraged to register, re-register or apply for a postal vote, depending on their circumstances.


The poll, based on the views of over 2,000 students, found that:

  • 63% of students were not able to name the date of the referendum
  • 54% of students did not know in which month the referendum is taking place
  • Only 56% of students who are only registered at their term-time address say they are likely to be at this address when the referendum takes place
  • Almost a third of students eligible to vote (32%) should apply for a postal/proxy vote*
  • Almost three quarters (72%) of students think the outcome of the referendum will have a significant impact on students’ futures


Nicola Dandridge, Chief Executive of Universities UK, said:

“While it is good that many students are interested in the outcome of the referendum, it is of real concern that so many are unaware of the referendum date and of the fact that they may have to re-register to vote at another address.

“From this week, universities will be scaling up their efforts to encourage students to register to vote, and to make sure they do so in the right location. It is important that students think about where they are likely to be on 23 June 2016 and also to consider registering to vote by post or by proxy.

With nearly two million UK students eligible to vote in the referendum, it is vital that they have all the necessary information to make sure they can take part in this hugely important decision.”


Richard Brooks, Deputy President of the National Union of Students, said:

“The EU referendum is a once in a generation vote. The decision made on the 23 June will impact young people and students the most as they are the ones that will live with the consequences for the longest. If students don’t want their future decided for them - it is essential that as many as possible get out and vote.

We are calling on all students to think ahead about where they will on 23 June and to register or re-register at that address. If they are unsure about where they will be, students can register at both their term-time and home address, providing they only vote once. If they are going to be on holiday or are heading to Glastonbury they should apply for a postal vote by 5pm 8 June.”


The public have until 7 June to register if they want to vote in the EU referendum. Students and young people can find out more information about how to vote in the EU referendum at and can register to vote at:

  1. Universities UK commissioned YouthSight to conduct a poll of UK students ahead of the EU referendum. YouthSight conducted a Student Omnibus survey with 2,007 UK students over the course of seven days, between 4 and 11 May 2016. Quotas were set to reflect the UK student population in terms of gender, course year and university type. Targets for the quotas were acquired using data supplied by HESA.
  1. Questions focused on asking students whether they were registered and where, as well as whether or not they will vote and what issues are important to them in relation to the referendum.
  1. With reference to the third of students eligible to vote (32%) who should apply for a postal/proxy vote – this is based on the numbers who said they won’t be able to get to their polling station, or are not sure if they will be at the address they are registered at on 23 June.
  1. People must register by 7 June if they want to vote in the EU referendum on 23 June. Eligible people can register to vote at:
  1. To register quickly, people should have their national insurance number ready. If people don’t know what their number is they can visit
  1. Universities UK is the representative organisation for the UK’s universities. Founded in 1918, its mission is to be the definitive voice for all universities in the UK, providing high quality leadership and support to its members to promote a successful and diverse higher education sector. With 133 members and offices in London, Cardiff (Universities Wales) and Edinburgh (Universities Scotland), it promotes the strength and success of UK universities nationally and internationally. Visit:
  2. Click here to download the data


How well does your company understand the youth market?

If the youth market is your organization’s future, make sure you’re not stuck in the past. YouthSight is the specialist, award-winning research agency and proud owners of the UK's largest youth research panel. Click here to learn more about us, or click below to explore our popular decision-making dashabords, used by hundreds of clients:

Higher Expectations - The UK’s biggest insight tool on what drives undergraduate students’ university choices

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Marcomms Monitor - With a focus on prospectuses, understand how potential undergraduate and postgraduates access and experience information you’ve designed to inform their choices

SYN: State of the Youth Nation - The most up-to-date tracking and analysis of the UK youth market

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