Schools, colleges, and universities spearhead new Citizens UK campaign to target 300,000 new voters in lead up to general election

Monday, March 11, 2024

Schools, colleges and universities across the country have marked Voter Registration Week (4th-11th March) by joining a broad coalition of civil society organisations and employers led by Citizens UK, which have come together to get 300,000 'at risk' voters to participate in this year's general election.  

Seven educational institutions across the UK are among the first accredited Voter Registration Champions, with a further 15 who have committed to accredit as Voter Registration Champions.  

By accrediting to become a Voter Registration Champion, these institutions commit to promoting voter registration, educating students about the new photo ID requirements, and encouraging them to turn out to vote on polling day. 

The new initiative is supported by the UK Democracy Fund and is part of an overall drive to reach one million voters. Citizens UK will target 300,000 of those through its new network, which includes the Church of England, and the Methodist Church among its first wave of Ambassadors for the Voter Registration Champion scheme.  Amongst the first wave of accredited Voter Registration Champions are the following schools, colleges and universities:   

  • Cabot Learning Federation - Post 16, Bristol 
  • ELATT, London 
  • Holyrood Academy, Chard 
  • Leyton Sixth Form College, London 
  • Newcastle University and Students' Union 
  • Nottingham College 
  • St David's Roman Catholic Sixth Form College, Cardiff 

Research by the Electoral Commission shows that eight million eligible voters may miss out in the 2024 general election because they are not registered to vote in time, and four million people may be disenfranchised because they do not have the correct photo ID to show at the polling station. The findings also show that young people, renters and recent movers, people living in poorer communities, and minority ethnic groups are particularly vulnerable to facing barriers to voting. [1] 

To help address this, Citizens UK is calling on all schools, colleges, universities, employers and faith and community organisations to join the movement and become an accredited Voter Registration Champion ahead of the general election. 

Lucy Backhurst, Academic Registrar at Newcastle University, said: "We're delighted that Newcastle University is the first university to be recognised as a Voter Registration Champion, and to be working closely with our Students' Union and Citizens UK to encourage our students to vote.  We live in a country where every vote counts so ensuring our students have the opportunity to participate in democracy is really important." 

Shah Yaseen Ali, President of Newcastle University Students' Union, said: "We are thrilled to achieve Voter Registration Champions status by Citizens UK, this showcases our commitment to promoting and encouraging everyone to exercise their democratic right. Democracy is a core value of NUSU and we are passionate about ensuring that the voices of our students are represented at both regional and national levels and we will continue to inspire our students to engage in democracy at all levels." 

Richard Hodgkiss, Manager for Culture and Communities at Leyton Sixth Form College, a Citizens UK Voter Registration Champion, said: "It is exceptionally important that young people register to vote in the current challenging climate of the cost of living crisis, human rights abuses across the world and current impending environmental catastrophe. 

"Leyton Sixth Form College signed up for the Voter Registration Champion scheme as it gives our community an opportunity to discuss how democracy works and engage young people in the political process, generating a belief that their amplified voices can make politicians listen. We would encourage educational institutions to sign up to the campaign." 

Karen Rooms, Chair of Trustees for Citizens UK, said: "We are calling on all schools and colleges to join the movement and become accredited Voter Registration Champions ahead of the general election. Together, we can help make sure people don't lose their opportunity to vote."

Read more about the Voter Registration Champion Scheme here: