Last month, we decided to run a poll on the EU referendum to engage students and teachers in an issue of great importance. We wanted to approach the debate in an unbiased fashion and simply ask what they thought in an anonymous poll.
We held the student vote on Vivo Edge – our platform for students. On Vivo Edge, we engage students in fun and informative content, geared towards providing them with a context to understand their place in the world. You can read the original article here.
We heard back from 4000+ students and teachers. We’re proud to provide a platform for so many people to have their say.
- Students (3711 responses) 69% Remain/ 31% Leave
- Teachers (381 responses) 66% Remain/ 34% Leave
How Britain’s membership of the EU affects education
The founding mission of the European School system declares that students who attend European schools will sit “side by side, untroubled from infancy by divisive prejudices.”
With the EU referendum fast approaching, we speculate whether this is ineffective, ‘noble rhetoric’ or an educational decree that safeguards UK students. Conversations around the EU referendum have sparked a range of opinions within the education sector. There are many advocates of both the pros and cons.
Nicky Morgan perceives that a vote to leave the EU will result in a “lost generation”. Similarly, Cambridge University students compiled a list of 116 reasons to remain and conclude that we must be “absolutely sure that the grass is greener on the other side” before voting to leave.
Spokesperson for Vote Leave, Robert Oxley backs the Brexit option. He says that leaving the EU will enable us to invest more money into education. Others say that staffing and infrastructure in education have not been able to keep up with the growth of the EU. By leaving the EU, we can reduce the strain on educational institutions.
Here’s how our students voted
It is said that a distinct disparity of opinions exists between younger and older voters. Results gathered in a recent poll by The Guardian News show that younger voters would prefer to remain (53% of 18-34s) while the majority of older voters would prefer to leave (62% of 35-55s and 70% of 55+).
Considering that the UK joined the EU in 1973 and that the last EU referendum in the UK was in 1975, there is every likelihood that the 53% of 18-34s voted ‘Remain’ because of a fear of the unknown. Predictions that the outcome of the vote will have a greater effect on the country’s future than the 2020 general election fortify the idea that a cautious vote is to remain and a risky vote is to leave.
Unfortunately, under 18s will not have the chance to vote on 23rd June. We wanted to see what they thought about Brexit. Here’s a taste of what students had to say.
“We are so much better as part of the EU. So many jobs, so much education, so many communications and much more depends on the EU. Universities and educational establishments offer fantastic offers to members of the EU with many discounts. This opens so many opportunities for students to study and board in Europe. The EU creates jobs, and we depend on it in so many ways. Although some things need to be done, I believe that getting rid of membership in the EU would be the worst thing possible. Thank you for letting me have my say.”
“I believe in helping others worldwide, and not just our country.”
“I think that the benefits of leaving outweigh the benefits of staying, e.g. we pay more into the EU than we get out – we contributed £8.8 billion in 2014/15.”
“UK needs to be free to develop outside the EU within the next 10 years the EU will not be viable and regulations will cripple the UK, we could save millions by leaving and reinvest in the UK to get us out of this depression.”
Here’s how the teachers voted
And, this is what teachers had to say.
“I am old enough to remember what it was like before we were in the EU and I feel European. We get more out than we put in and we should look further than immigration.”
“I see myself as European and wish to remain in the EU, maintaining strong links with our neighbours. Although as a country we contribute more than we receive back, we are a rich country and should be helping less developed parts of Europe.”
“All current arguments, apart from the financial aspects being promoted by some large financial companies, appear not to have any valid substance. We are currently putting over £8million more into the EU than we are receiving. That is beside other subsidies that we will be expected to support. This money could be more usefully used to improve education and health needs.”
“The way that the decisions by Greek voters were ignored by the EU is an illustration of the lack of democracy in the union. There are 30,000 lobbyists working in the EU. Few represent the needs of ordinary people. The way that barriers have gone up to prevent migrants from moving around the EU similarly undermines any pretense that there is free movement.”
The EU referendum elsewhere
There are many other organisations in the education sphere running similar activities and events to engage teachers and students in the EU debate. Read a few below:
- TES has posted some great lesson plans for teachers who want to bring the discussion into their classrooms.
- The Complete University Guide has published a great informative article about how leaving the EU will affect universities and students.
- Roding High School held an EU debate between their students and awarded prizes for winners. We think this a great, topical way of getting students to exercise their debating and public speaking skills.
- The European Economic Social Community selected 33 schools to go to Brussels to discuss migration.
- Debating Europe conducted a study on the teaching of digital skills. They questioned whether Europe’s education system is “fit for purpose”.
The EU referendum date is on June 23rd, 2016.