Student voices are crucial in the EU debate

London graduates and students have told me that UK membership of the EU is crucial to continue providing ‘amazing educational and employment opportunities’.

In 2014/15 more than 850 students from London went to mainland Europe to work, study or volunteer. European schemes like Erasmus have helped over 200,000 UK students develop problem-solving skills, confidence, adaptability and curiosity.

These skills are shown to enable students who travel abroad during their degree to achieve better academic results and employment prospects than students than those who do not travel. According to International Unit statistics, students who spent time abroad earn an average of £1,364 per year more than students that do not travel.

In addition, EU students who have chosen to study in London have generated £788.9m for the regional economy and 7,580 jobs.

This week I joined David, a QMUL student from Hungary, Anne-Marie from the International Unit, and my Green colleagues Caroline Russell AM and deputy leader Amelia Womack to call on students to make sure they are registered in time to vote in the EU referendum – deadline is 7 June and you can register online here in a few minutes (bring your national insurance number): gov.uk/register-to-vote

Students and young people benefit hugely from the academic and career opportunities EU membership brings, but with the referendum happening outside term time, and so few students registered to vote at the right home, their voice risks being ignored.

Freedom of travel in the EU helps share cultures, talents and skills that shape our great city and help to make London unique and amazing. I hope the Mayor makes a clear case to Londoners about how EU membership benefits students and young people and encourages them to register to vote.

Nicola Dandridge, Chief Executive of Universities UK, says: “The EU provides UK students with life-changing opportunities to work, study and travel abroad, gaining invaluable skills and experience in the process. Our EU membership also supports and enables students from other European countries to come to the UK, enriching our campuses, broadening the horizons of students and staff, and forging connections with Britain that will last a lifetime.”

Bite The Ballot says: “We need to act now to ensure those unregistered are empowered and inspired to play a role in this vital decision. Young people will live longest with the outcome of the EU referendum, and the risk of not engaging in the issues – whether it’s study, work or justice – is too big to ignore.

“It’s vital that young people register by 7 June, but it’s also vital for all ‘in’ and ‘out’ campaigners to address the concerns of young people far more directly. We know that if they don’t, and the voices of young citizens are not heard, disaffection can breed alienation – and division. That’s why, at Bite The Ballot, we’re calling on everyone to #TurnUp and take power.”

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