Student Opposition to Brexit Grows

Voting | 27 Jul 2018


Tomorrow’s leaders reject Brexit; the Government’s handling of it & Labour’s position on it

YouthSight has been ‘taking the temperature’ of student political opinion since 2004. You can see our previous work on the topic here. Since 2016 we’ve also been monitoring opinion on Brexit with partners such as the Higher Education Policy Institute (HEPI), and Open Britain. Today we release our latest polling results on students and their views on Brexit. This research is also covered in today's Independent.

There are around 1.4 million full time undergraduate students studying in UK universities. They comprise a diverse mix of (largely) young people. Today’s students are the UK’s future leaders. Our latest findings on Brexit reveal that students vehemently oppose Brexit and their opposition is growing stronger. 


Impact on students’ prospects

  • 70% of students think their prospects will change for the worse under Brexit. By contrast only 13% of students think that their prospects will change for the better following Brexit.


Brexit student poll 1

YouthSight Student Omnibus July 2018 | Base size: 1021


Opposition to Brexit and future tactical voting

    • 74% of students think that the UK was wrong to Leave the EU. This includes around 1 in 5 leave voters who now regret their decision to vote Leave.


Brexit student poll 2

YouthSight Student Omnibus July 2018 | Base size: 1021

  • Brexit will affect the decision of 60% of those students likely to vote in a future General Election. Of these, half would be willing to vote tactically in the future in order to achieve their preferred Brexit outcome.
  • 69% of students would be more likely to vote for a party that opposes Brexit. This is up from 47% of students who were prepared to vote tactically in this way, in June 2017.
  • 79% of Labour supporting students would be more likely to vote for a party that opposes Brexit [1].


Students and the ‘People’s Vote’

  • The proportion of students supporting the idea of MPs alone determining the final deal for Brexit (i.e. without another referendum / People’s Vote) has fallen from 25% in Feb 2017 to 17% in our latest research, implying that young people are increasingly losing faith in those in Parliament’s ability to deliver an outcome they can support.
  • In the last 18 months, student support for a ‘People’s Vote’ has grown from 58% in favour to 67% in favour.


The Government’s handling of Brexit

  • The one opinion uniting both Leave and Remain supporting students is the contention that the government is doing a bad job in negotiating Britain’s exit from the EU. Overall 77% of students.

YouthSight’s Research Director, Josephine Hansom comments,

“Students comprise the next generation of business leaders, teachers, doctors and politicians. Today’s students will begin leading the country in a relatively small number of years. Yet they vehemently reject Brexit: a policy at the heart of our relationship with the rest of the world, signalling how we think of ourselves as a nation. In generational terms Brexit is the most divisive policy we’ve ever witnessed.  And according to our data, opposition to it among students is only growing.”


Full tables for this research and previous waves covering the same questions are available at the bottom of this page. Our thanks to Higher Education Policy Institute (HEPI) and Open Britain for help in co-developing certain questions in previous waves of research.



[1] This question was asked slightly different in June 2017.  In polling just prior to the election, students were asked, “How will Brexit impact your vote in the General Election on 8th June?” with response options, “I will vote for a party because it supports Brexit”; “I will vote for a party because it opposes Brexit” and “Brexit won't impact my decision”.  51% of Labour supporting students said “I will vote for a party because it opposes Brexit”.  Contrast this with the question wording in July 2018, “How will Brexit impact your vote in a future General Election?” with 79% of Labour supporting students agreeing “I will be more likely to vote for a party because it opposes Brexit”


These results are based on findings from YouthSight’s Student Omnibus, the UK’s only weekly dedicated student omnibus survey. Fieldwork ran from 13th July 2018 to 16th July 2018.  Each YouthSight Student Omnibus is based on at least 1,000 complete interviews with full-time undergraduates at publicly funded higher education institutions in the UK. Quotas are set for course year (1,2,3+), gender and university type (Russell group, pre 1992 universities, post 1992 universities and specialist institutions). Targets for the quotas are acquired using current data supplied by the Higher Education Statistics Agency (HESA). Weights are also occasionally used to ensure the sample is fully representative. All completers received a credit of £1.67 in shopping voucher credits.  All participants are members of The OpinionPanel Community, YouthSight’s proprietary research panel, comprised of over 140,000 members aged 16 to 30 including 80,000 students.



YouthSight was established in 2004.  We help clients see the world through the eyes of young people, students and young professionals. Our three specialist practice teams provide the insights and data that brands, policy-makers, universities, market research and advertising agencies need. Our findings are regularly in the news, helping to fuel debates around students, Gen Y and Gen Z, trends in higher education and best practice in youth research.  We own and manage The OpinionPanel Community – the UK’s largest youth research community, comprised of over 140,000 16-30 year olds. 



Managing Director: Ben Marks; dd 020 3961 6274

Research Director: Josephine Hansom; dd 020 3961 6281


Download data tables

OMS134 - Fieldwork 13/07/18 – 16/07/18

OMS124 - Fieldwork 06/06/17 – 11/06/17

OMS122 - Fieldwork 23/02/17 – 28/02/17


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