The EU referendum: why students must vote, and vote to stay

On 23rd June 2016, the citizens of Great Britain will cast their vote as to whether or not we should remain part of Europe.

There is no clear cut prediction for the outcome, and every single vote will matter. I know a staggering number of people who say that they aren’t going to vote because “it’s only one vote, it won’t affect anything” or “I don’t really know what I think so I’m just going to leave it.” It seriously will make a difference, probably more than any other political decision that has occurred in recent years.6004.item

Becoming educated on the pros and cons of staying or leaving just takes a few minutes out of your day. Instead of mindlessly scrolling through your Facebook feed, take a look at a few articles! While I am in favour of allowing people to make up their own mind when it comes to voting – and not just to align themselves with their parents or their friends beliefs – I do wish to share my personal opinion on why I think it is incredibly important that students vote to stay in Europe.

While I believe that it would be beneficial to all for us to remain, I wish to focus on the student vote in this blog. The older generation tends to vote more than the young, so it is imperative that we students change that come June. If a) there is a low voter turnout and b) those aged 18-30 turn up in low numbers to vote it is likely that we will leave.

However, if the student contingent actually use their vote and use it right, there is a much greater chance that Britain will remain in Europe. While I really could provide a great number of reasons why students would benefit from Britain staying in, I am limited by a word count and don’t want to bore you. I think that a few direct, clear cut reasons are more likely to stay in your head and allow you not to drown in information! Erasmus_logo.svg

One of the major reasons why staying in Europe is so vital for students is the Erasmus+ programme. Over 10,000 British students partake in exchanges through the Erasmus+ programme each year, which involves spending one academic year at a university in Europe. Erasmus+ provides once in a lifetime, enriching and rewarding educational experiences and opportunities to students and is directly funded by the European Union.

Students who did Erasmus+ have been shown to be 50% less likely to suffer long-term unemployment, and the benefits of spending a year living abroad are twofold. If Britain decide to leave the European Union, they would need to negotiate our way into the programme, which is extremely tentative and uncertain. Furthermore, a substantial amount of research within universities is funded by the European Union, something that I bet a lot of students don’t even realise. The EU puts nearly a billion pounds into higher education funding and research every year.

While sadly the issue of the environment is not considered as important by all students, I know that Brighton-based students have a passion for it. The EU provides millions of pounds worth of funding for green energy and in turn this allows for more jobs in the environmental sector, the importance of which cannot be understated.

So, there it is folks. And that is just a tiny snippet of reasons why a) you should vote and b) you should vote to stay. Please, please vote, (you still have until the 7th June to register if you haven’t already). It takes so little time and I can’t stress enough how much your vote counts.

Lily Whitcombe is a third year American Studies student on a Study Abroad programme at the University of Colorado, Boulder, USA.

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