Survey finds 52% of York students have no affiliation to a political party

Polly Ingham and Albi Furlan analyse students’ attitudes towards current political issues

A survey of the student population at the University of York has revealed that 52% of students feel they are not aligned to any party, while 17% of students would vote Conservative, the next biggest group.

Over 200 individuals were polled by Nouse last week, with the intention of discovering student attitudes towards political issues, at a time of heightened interest in national politics due to local elections.

The survey asked students whether they agreed or disagreed with a number of topical issues, as well as their gender, college, age and course. This is perhaps a sign of party lines not filtering down to students, or perhaps students simply formulating their own opinions rather than following the official guideline.

While 12% would vote for Labour, only 8% would support the Liberal Democrats, despite them currently holding the seat for Heslington in the Local Council and their “student friendly” image. Even when a direct affiliation is present there is no correlation between how people would vote, to how their party feels on the matter; the opinions are often directly opposed.

A positive balance of political persuasion is to be found across campus despite widespread apathy. However some colleges, such as Alcuin, cannot shed predifined stigmas. With 24% of preferences, Alcuin has the highest percentage of Conservative students, both male and female voters, of all the York colleges.

The lowest concentration of Tory-aligned students can be found in Langwith college. Langwith however, is also the least politically affilliated of all the colleges.

Halifax has the broadest overall representation, sporting voters, although of small proportions, from the BNP, the Green party and the Monster Raving Loony Party as well as the more conventional political parties.

In a time when global warming dominates eco-policy agenda, the survey revealed that the environment is not far from the thoughts of York’s students. Although the Green Party only obtained 2% of votes, their presence at all is significant.

When polled about current political issues, 47% of students surveyed stated they didn’t know whether troops should be deployed in Kosovo or not, but those who did respond were equally divided. Students were also generally opposed to the idea of boycotting the Chinese Olympics, with 61% of those polled either disagreeing or strongly disagreeing with the proposition.

While foreign policy would seems far from the minds of the student voters, educational policy was predictably closer to the hear of students – only 4% of students failed to give an opinion on the control of schools over their pupils’ lives, while the overwhelming majority (70%) disagreed on the issue.

Most students thought that the power of ASBOs should be extended, with 62% of those surveyed agreeing on the proposal, while opinions were divided on the reclassification of marijuana, with a slight majority against the attempt to raise it to a class B drug.


  1. what is actually the tone and purpose of this? are you saying people should get off the fence and find themselves a party, or that people are rightly divided or open to persuasion, or that campus is politically segregated…? i don’t see what you’re actually trying to show…?

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  2. I think they’re trying to show that 52% of York students have no affiliation to a political party, Anon.

    It’s a piece of news, they have to do nothing other than report some information that may be of interest to people. I personally find it quite interesting.

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  3. I’m with Chris on this one. Thought it was interesting stuff.

    Shame the survey only got a couple of hundred people – this isn’t bad but it would be nice to get a much bigger perspective on the political beliefs of the York student body. Not really sure if that is possible though.

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  4. 14 May ’08 at 10:44 pm

    Anthony Arundel

    This is speculation, but might it be the case that most students feel that centre-left liberalism has entrenched itself so well in the psyche of our generation that they don’t feel it’s necessary to align themselves to a party? And, therefore, the most prominent partisan group is the Conservatives, because they are in part railing against the centre-left liberal tradition? After all, people tend to be more politically active when they feel their beliefs challenged and marginalised.

    My experience here makes me believe that it would be wrong to infer that, because the Conservative group outweighs the Labour group, students are mainly right-leaning. I suspect that if party alignment were compulsory, the left-leaning groups would swell enormously. (Although now we could enter a debate about how the modern Tories are also centre-left…)

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  5. Anon,

    We conducted a piece of research, and we’ve presented to you the results which we thought were most interesting – as in, the ones which presented the highest majorities. We tried to avoid putting an interpretation on it, believing that showing the statistics and leaving the readers to interpret them would be best.

    It’s not a comment piece, just a bit of journalistic research.

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  6. Party Politics has died a not-too-premature death in the eyes of the sane

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