Students soundly reject UKIP

Voting | 26 Jun 2014


New research by YouthSight conducted 6th June to 10th June 2014 has shown that students clearly reject UKIP. Prior to the May 2014 European elections, UKIP were polling 5% among students, but this support has now dropped to 3%. This puts UKIP in 5th place amongst students, behind Labour (34%), the Conservatives (21%), the Green Party (18%) and the Liberal Democrats (7%).  This is a stark contrast to the overall results of the May 2014 European elections in the UK, which saw UKIP poll top (27%), followed by Labour (25%), the Conservatives (24%), the Green Party (8%) and the Liberal Democrats on 7%.

UKIP’s lack of support among students is perhaps explained the way students position themselves on the left / right spectrum.  The vast majority of students identify with the left (24%) or centre (51%) of the political spectrum, which is where Labour, the Liberal Democrats and the Greens are seen to reside. Only 6% of students consider themselves to be very right wing, whereas 53% placed UKIP on the far right of the same scale. However 35% of students consider the Conservatives to be very right wing, as do 37% of students who plan to vote Conservative.

Percentage of students placing parties at the right of the political spectrum (8-10)

StudentVoteJune2014Up to now, UKIP have campaigned largely on an anti-EU ticket. Previous research by YouthSight found overwhelming support for EU membership among students. In our most recent survey on the topic, only 11% of students favoured the UK withdrawing from the European Convention of Human Rights. Furthermore, the vast majority of students (81%) felt that the UK should be open to anyone with a job or source of financial support. This is in contrast to UKIP’s immigration policy, which would only allow selective immigration and enforce more stringent criteria on migrants and tourists coming to the UK.

Students seem to have a low affinity with UKIP, partly because UKIP are viewed as being a party that appeals to older people.  Only 15% of students felt that their own age group were most likely to vote for UKIP; most felt that UKIP appeals to the over 40's.

Despite UKIP’s repeated claims that they are a non-racist party, 80% of students remain unconvinced. Students from minority backgrounds and the EU are more likely to feel that UKIP are racist. A large minority of students (37%) do concede that UKIP are ‘saying what a lot of people are afraid to say,’ but this is perhaps a better reflection on students' opinions of the general electorate, rather than of their personal views.

One of the most important political issues for students in recent years has been the tuition fee increases. The Liberal Democrats’ 'betrayal’ of students on tuition fees (by abandoning a pledge to not raise them) has contributed to the party’s support tumbling from 50% (at the time of the leadership debate just prior to the last general election in 2010) to around 7% over the last few years. Despite the importance of fees, however, only a quarter of students would be more likely to vote for UKIP if they promised to scrap tuition fees entirely, something only the Green party is currently proposing


Click here to see the data tables in full



All fieldwork was conducted via YouthSight’s Student Omnibus survey.  The fieldwork took place between 6th and 10th June 2014. The sample size for each student omnibus survey is between 1,000-1,100 respondents.  Only full-time undergraduates at publicly-funded UK Higher Education institutions are included. The respondents questioned in the fieldwork are members of The Student Panel 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 is 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). YouthSight extend our thanks and gratitude to professor Tim Bale, of Queen Mary University for his help in designing the questions in relation to UKIP.


Ben Marks, Managing Director, YouthSight, 020 7288 8789

Sarah Newton, Research Manager, YouthSight , 020 7288 8789

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