The University of Worcester has been ranked joint top in a new league table focused on how universities are engaging students in democracy.
In the week when Worcester has been celebrating the achievements of almost 4,000 graduates, the University was today (Thurs, Nov 7) revealed as having achieved full marks across all five categories in a survey carried out by Vote For your Future, a non-partisan youth registration and turnout campaign.
The results of the survey, published in the Times Higher Education magazine, reveal Worcester as joint top with the Universities of Hull and Sheffield.
The Higher Education and Research Act 2017 placed a statutory requirement on universities to facilitate student voter registration.
With youth voter registration the lowest of all age groups, the survey aimed to encourage universities not only to meet this obligation but to go above and beyond to ensure that no student is disenfranchised due to lack of information and/or accessibility.
The University of Worcester is passionate about promoting democracy and democratic values and, in partnership with Worcester Students’ Union, has long taken steps to ensure students know how to register to vote, get engaged with the issues, and use their votes.
During a celebration dinner on Monday evening, kicking off the University’s week-long Graduation ceremonies, Professor David Green CBE, Vice Chancellor and Chief Executive, gave an impassioned speech highlighting the importance of a democratic society.
He told a packed room of graduates, business and community leaders and university staff that “now is the time to do all we can as a society to engage in democratic, reasoned discussion”.
He later went on to say: “At Worcester we passionately embrace our duty to promote British values, which are ‘democracy; the rule of law; individual liberty; and mutual respect for and tolerance of those with different faiths, beliefs and for those without faith’.
“Our fundamental approach is to encourage all students to become well informed about the issues, to engage in peaceful, respectful democratic discussion of the issues, to register to vote and then vote as they see fit.
“We are of course delighted that our efforts to engage students have been recognised in this table published today. More importantly we hope that this will spur other universities, colleges and secondary schools going forward.”
The University held a special Democracy Day in September - a full day of talks and discussions aimed at encouraging students to engage with the issues of the day and to register to vote.
Panel discussions involved the University’s own academics and external speakers, covering topics including how the current political situation is impacting on health and education, exploring constitutional law and a session on psychology and how we make decisions. In addition, the University invited representatives of the five parties who have announced they will contest Worcester in the upcoming election to take part in question and answer sessions. The University and Students’ Union have also worked together to actively promote voter registration across campus, with posters, displays and email campaigns.
Harry Lonsdale, President of Worcester Students’ Union, said: “At Worcester Students’ Union we believe it is paramount to educate and engage our students’ in democracy. We have been, and will be, encouraging all our students’ to register to vote and have their say in the upcoming election. We have been raising awareness on social media in line with the NUS ‘Got 5’ campaign and getting out and about speaking to students about the importance of getting involved in democracy.”