Student vote update September 2014

Voting | 12 Sep 2014


Research highlights

Scottish referendum

  • The recent surge in support for the ‘Yes’ campaign is not reflected within the student vote.
  • Students eligible to vote in the Scottish independence referendum are less likely to vote ‘Yes’ but more likely to be undecided than voters overall

UK overall

  • Across the UK as a whole, YouthSight’s most recent polling of higher education students finds Labour are still the preferred party
  • The Green Party continues to gain student approval, closing in on second place, which is currently occupied by the Conservatives
  • The Liberal Democrats remain in a distant 4th place despite clawing back some support
  • Students are now more likely to vote than at any point in the past three years

Student attitudes towards Scottish independence

YouthSight recently conducted a poll with 300 students who were eligible to vote in the forthcoming Scottish independence referendum. Despite the Scotland ‘Yes’ campaign seeing a recent surge in support amongst the general Scottish electorate, students remain less convinced that Scotland should be an independent country.


Base (308) includes only those eligible to vote in the Scottish independence referendum.
Scottish electorate data taken from 05/09/14 YouGov poll. YouthSight data based on research conducted September 1st – 4th


36% of student voters think that Scotland should be an independent country while just under half (46%) are likely to vote No and 18% are still unsure. This compares to 47% of the general population who think Scotland should be independent and 45% who think Scotland should remain part of the UK (though only 6% are unsure).

The YouthSight poll also shows that the vast majority of students eligible to vote in the referendum (88%) intend to do so.

26% of Scottish students predict that the ‘Yes’ campaign will triumph, whilst a further 38% think Scotland will remain part of the UK but be given greater autonomy. 12% expect there to be no change, and 8% foresee Scotland being stripped of some autonomous powers.


Student party preference

In addition to the Scottish polling, YouthSight’s also conducted a nationally representative sample survey of UK students (based on over 1000 interviews). The results show that if there were a general election tomorrow students are still more likely to vote for Labour than any other party and students continue to feel a strong affinity with the Labour party (30% identify themselves as Labour supporters).

Both Labour and the Conservatives see a 2% fall in support amongst students since April 2014. Compared with the general electorate, students are still more likely to vote Labour, and less likely to vote Conservative.



Student Polls*

General Electorate[1]







Liberal Democrats



Green Party






* Base includes only those who state they are very likely to vote (i.e. when asked to rate “How likely would you be to vote in an immediate General Election?” on a 10 point scale where 1 is absolutely certain NOT to.

Fieldwork for the latest wave took place September 1st – 4t, with 1020 students. General electorate results are based on aggregated data sourced from the from polls conducted during similar dates.

Students' third party

YouthSight’s results also saw the Green Party consolidating their position as their third choice party with support levels rising from 14% in April 2014 to 19% in September 2014.

Looking at party affinity, the Greens have also made gains. 13% of students now consider themselves to be a Green Party supporter (an increase of 5% since April), which is on par with the 14% of students who have an affinity with the Conservative party.

This suggests that the Green Party could become the second most popular party amongst students by the time of the next election. A lack of pro-student policies from the established parties is causing students to pledge their support elsewhere. The other allegedly ‘non-establishment’ party, UKIP, has also seen a slight increase in student support (5% to 6%).

Voting intention

Students are now more likely to vote than at any point in the past three years. 66% say they would vote in a general election tomorrow, a rise of 8% since our last published wave of research. As we are still some months from a general election, it is likely that the recent debate over Scottish independence is responsible for this increase and has galvanised student political opinion.



[1] -

About YouthSight

YouthSight is a full service market research company specialising in youth, student and young professional research. All fieldwork was conducted via YouthSight’s Student Omnibus survey. The fieldwork for the latest wave took place September 1st – 4th. To date YouthSight has completed over 80 waves of fieldwork on the Student Vote since July 2004. The sample size for each student omnibus survey is between 1,000-1,100 respondents. For this wave we included a boost sample of Scottish students, achieving 200 interviews with this group.

Only full-time undergraduates at publicly funded UK and Higher Education institutions are included in each wave. The respondents questioned in the fieldwork for each wave are members of The Student Panel Nearly all have been recruited to the Panel via invitations from UCAS. All respondents have verified their academic email address (ending ‘’). All respondents are credited with £1 in Amazon Gift Certificates for completing each questionnaire. After completing a Student Omnibus Survey, respondents are excluded from at least the next 3 omnibus studies. Nested quotas are used to achieve a sample that was representative of the UK full time undergraduate population by gender, course year (1, 2, 3+) and university type (Russell group, pre 1992 universities, post 1992 universities and specialist institutions). Targets for the quotas and weights are acquired using population data supplied by the Higher Education Statistics Agency (HESA).

Our full list of Student Vote reports / press releases -

For our interactive (online) student voting intention chart–intention-graph/



Ben Marks, Managing Director, YouthSight, 020 7288 8789

Sarah Newton, Research Manager, YouthSight , 020 7288 8789

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