Sixty-three percent of students in the UK support the idea of a second EU referendum, according to an NUS study published last Sunday.
Of the 2,685 students surveyed between the ages of 16 and 24, almost two-thirds replied that they believed there should be a second referendum regarding the terms of the UK’s exit from the European Union.
The campaign for a second referendum is being led by the Liberal Democrat Party, who argue that the conditions of Brexit should be put to the ballot in two years time. While the June 2016 referendum resulted in a 51.8% vote for Leave, a large majority (73%) of voters aged between 18 and 24 voted to remain in the EU. However, a combination of low voter turnout from this age bracket and high turnout of older voters swung the outcome.
Following the triggering of Article 50 at the end of March, the NUS has set out four points which should be prioritised in terms of education in the withdrawal negotiations between the UK and the EU.
Firstly, it wants to make sure that international students are still welcome in the country and are not faced with hostility. Both the NUS and Sir James Dyson have called for the exclusion of international students from migration figures as part of this goal.
Secondly, the NUS supports granting EU citizens a certain status, as given the large numbers of students and academics coming from EU countries, clarifying their status in terms of residence and employment is crucial.
Their third objective is the continuation of Erasmus Plus programmes, which allow students across the EU to go on exchanges to other European universities. The fourth point concerns the continuing collaboration between the UK and the EU in the fields of science and technology.
NUS President Malia Bouattia said: “NUS is committed to ensuring that students do not suffer as a result of the referendum result.” She added: “We are fighting to shape the terms on which Brexit takes place,” and “it is our task as a movement to fight for students, for migrants, and for all those who are faced with adverse circumstances.”
Nimisha Mistry, a first-year History and Politics student, added: “If we chose to leave -although us young people didn’t- we should have a say in how it’s done. Why should the MPs be the only ones on such a big decision?”
Alexander Ayling, a first-year French student, was against a second In/Out referendum as “this would undermine democracy,” but nevertheless supported a referendum concerning the terms of Brexit.