Today Chris Skidmore visited the University of Sheffield to see firsthand how an innovative project to encourage students to register to vote is having a direct impact.
With support from government funding, the university has trialled a method of prompting students to register to vote when they go through the process of enrolling for university online.
Between 2015 and 2016 academic year, the university had 76% of eligible students registered to vote compared with figures as low as 13% for similar sized universities.
Increasingly young people are moving away to attend university giving them the opportunity to decide whether to register to vote at home or at their university.
The government’s drive to introduce Individual Electoral Registration (IER) and online registration gives students the option to register where they choose and in less than 3 minutes.
Today, the minister is also visiting the Youth Council, a Bradford Islamic Community Centre, and the Park Hill estate to hear more about how different groups are engaging their local communities and encouraging them to participate in democracy.
Chris Skidmore, Minister for the Constitution, said:
This government is determined to build a democracy that works for everyone and it is heartening to see different people across communities in Yorkshire engaging their friends, neighbours and colleagues to ensure they remain an active part of our democracy.
In particular, the work that the University of Sheffield is carrying out is making a big difference to how young people are engaged in politics. Their innovative project has seen a huge increase in registration rates. I am excited to see how all communities, schools, colleges and universities across the UK can all learn from their approach.
Professor Shearer West, Deputy Vice-Chancellor of the University of Sheffield, said:
Universities are an integral space where students can share their ideas and have open and constructive debate. Student views can make a vital difference to society, and at the University of Sheffield, we are committed to making it as simple as possible for our students to register to vote.
By integrating voter registration into our enrolment process at the beginning of term, 3 quarters of our students are now on the electoral roll. We were delighted to welcome the minister and to show him the impact this innovative project has had in Sheffield.
Dominic Trendall, President of Sheffield Students’ Union, said:
As a students’ union, we are really proud to have been part of the effort to ensure that the voices of students are heard in Sheffield. Students do want to engage with the community and with the democratic process and it is so important that we break down artificial barriers to participation in elections.