Students use politicians’ debate to encourage first time voters
27th April 2015
NULC students plan to make their votes count in the election.
A poll taken after the College political debate showed that those intending to abstain from voting had fallen from 26 per cent to four per cent in the latest NULC activity designed to encourage students to vote.
Staff and students at NULC were treated to a live political debate thanks to a team of BTEC Extended Diploma in Business students.
Paul Farrelly from the Labour Party, Sam Gibbons from the Green Party and Edward Sumner from UKIP were given the floor at the College’s auditorium last Friday where they were invited to debate a number of topics chosen by the students.
The debate, which was organised by business students as part of their coursework, was attended by over 200 staff and students and was set up to help encourage more young people to take an interest in politics.
Jack Dale, one of the students who organised the event last week, said: “The debate has been a huge success because we met our main objective which was to get more young people engaging in political topics.
“We wanted to try and get as many students as possible who will be of voting age this time to actually register and cast their vote.
“It’s extremely important because we are the voice of the future and what happens in these elections now could have a massive influence on us.”
Before the debate started students were asked to cast their political vote in a ballot box and were then asked to re-vote after the debate.
David Matthews, director of learner engagement and partnerships, said: “It’s been very interesting to see how the debate has influenced the young people, specifically when deciding which political party to vote for in the forthcoming elections.
“The ballots suggested that the Green Party gained supporters, while UKIP supporters reduced. Interestingly the Labour Party kept the same number of supporters before and after the debate.
“What’s even more important was to see how well the young people engaged with the politicians and we are extremely proud of the students who organised the event.”
Questions asked during the debate included ‘should the voting age be lowered to 16’ and ‘how do the parties plan to raise the profile of vocational qualifications?”
One question which was asked by 16-year-old Public Services student, Oliver Everill, was particularly close to his heart. He said: “I wanted to ask whether each of the parties plan to cut the defence budget as I plan to have a career in the military.
“I think that each of the parties answered my question and it has put my mind at rest in some parts as to how secure my future may be.
“Overall I thought that the experience was well worth it and it has encouraged me to think about who I vote for and more importantly that I cast a vote when I am able to in the near future.”
NULC offers a range of business and politics courses ranging from A Levels to BTEC’s with levels to suit all abilities