The National Union of Students (NUS) is disappointed by the results of yesterday’s referendum, particularly given the high proportion of young voters who are reported to have voted to stay in the EU. National President, Megan Dunn, has written to Downing Street and BIS ministers to ask for a range of assurances over the future of further and higher education in light of the Brexit vote. The letter is posted on the NUS website here.
Megan Dunn, NUS national president, said:
“This is clearly not the result that many young people wanted or voted for, but most important now is to ensure that students and young people are involved in the decisions that have to be made that will shape their future. We have urgent questions about how the vote to leave will affect students, particularly EU students in the UK and UK students studying in the EU, and call on the government to offer clear assurances to them about their situation.
“NUS believes 16 and 17-year-olds should have had the right to vote in the EU referendum, as our research showed 76 per cent would have voted if they could. It was a once in a generation vote, but the people who will be most affected were denied the chance to have their say.
“We are now appealing to the older generation to support young people and listen to the voices of students as we move to leave the EU. We must work out how to bring people together and ensure unity in a post-Brexit world.
NUS Presidents in Scotland and Northern Ireland where the majority voted to remain in the UK expressed their disappointment.
Vonnie Sandlan, NUS Scotland president, said:
“This is an incredibly disappointing result, and one that Scotland clearly took a different stand against. We saw a really positive and diverse campaign in Scotland for our continued membership of the EU – and students were at the heart of that, recognising the immense benefits membership brings for students and young people, and our universities and colleges.
“This was a UK-wide vote, but the voices of the positive majority in Scotland cannot be ignored. In the coming weeks and months it is vital that the UK Government works closely with the devolved governments, and with all of us who stood up proudly for our EU membership ensuring we do all we can to stem the damaging consequences we know this result could have.”
Fergal McFerran, NUS-USI president, said:
“Northern Ireland has arguably benefitted more from our membership of the European Union than any other part of these Islands. The result of yesterday’s referendum is a disappointing one but I accept the decision that the general public has made. Students, and wider society will no doubt face the implications of this vote for years to come and I sincerely hope that our political leaders are prepared to now put their differences to one side to ensure that they do their best for the people they serve in light of the ramifications of our withdrawal from the European Union."
In Wales, where 52.5% voted to leave the EU, Beth Button, NUS Wales president, said:
“The vote to leave the European Union is one I’m obviously disappointed with. This is a decision that will not only be hugely negative for students and young people in Wales, but one which will have obvious and immediate implications for Wales as a nation – not least the loss of significant amounts of funding that we receive from the EU. Those funds support investment and infrastructure all across Wales, particularly for young people and communities in poverty. This loss will certainly be felt"
Notes to editors:
- For more information or to arrange interviews please contact the NUS Press Office on 07866 695010 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
- For NUS Scotland please contact Fergus Boden on 07876831235 or email@example.com.
- For NUS Wales please contact James Dunn on 07872128153 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
- For NUS-USI please contact Keelin McGrogan on 07585969850 or email@example.com.
- More information about NUS’ research on 16 and 17-year-olds voting in the EU referendum is available here.