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General Election 2019: How the student vote could be decisive in Ipswich

PUBLISHED: 19:00 28 November 2019 | UPDATED: 13:36 29 November 2019

University of Suffolk Students' Union vice president Amy Grant (left) and president Georgia Downs (right) have been working to encourage students to vote in the 2019 general election. Picture: UNIVERSITY OF SUFFOLK SU

University of Suffolk Students' Union vice president Amy Grant (left) and president Georgia Downs (right) have been working to encourage students to vote in the 2019 general election. Picture: UNIVERSITY OF SUFFOLK SU

UNIVERSITY OF SUFFOLK SU

Students in Ipswich could be a decisive factor in the constituency's general election result on December 12, with the seat among the top five university towns nationally with the smallest majority.

Ipswich students could play a major role in deciding the constituency's general election result Picture: GREGG BROWNIpswich students could play a major role in deciding the constituency's general election result Picture: GREGG BROWN

The University of Suffolk has more than 5,000 students, with Labour's majority in the 2017 election just 831 votes over the Conservatives in the Ipswich constituency where the university is based.

It means the number of student voters and which direction they vote in could have a key impact on the result in Ipswich.

According to the Students' Union, lots of work has been going on to encourage students to register for voting.

Officers have been on hand in the university's new social space, ipads with quick links to register for voting have been set up, visitors from the National Union of Students have given tips, social media posts published and emails to all students from the SU and vice chancellor.

Amy Grant, vice-president of the university's SU, said: "One of the other promotional things is video content to make sure that students registering to vote are aware that Ipswich is a swing constituency.

"The vote here does really really matter."

For students living in Athena Hall, the main halls of residence, the polling station will be the university atrium, meaning it will be as easy as possible for students to cast their votes on the day.

SU president Georgia Downs said: "When you look at what politicians are campaigning on, they are all the things that affect students - the NHS, environment, housing and education. They are key topics for students.

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"A large proportion of our students are on health courses so the NHS is important to them.

"It's been quite refreshing as we haven't heard any students say their vote doesn't matter, they haven't been negative about it - it's something they all feel passionate about."

Traditionally, 18-25 year olds are the least likely to vote, but students within that group tend to be more politically active.

More than three million new voter registrations were made nationally since the election was announced on October 29 - many of those among young people, although it is not yet clear how many there had been in Ipswich.

Archant Hustings gives candidates the chance to explain policies to voters

A full house is expected for the 2019 General Election hustings organised by Archant at the University of Suffolk's Waterfront building on Monday.

An audience of students and members of the public who applied for tickets last month will be at the university to hear what the candidates have to say about a range of subjects.

All five candidates hoping to become MP for Ipswich in the early hours of December 13 have been invited to the event and are expected to take part.

Members of the audience have been asked to submit questions which will be asked and debated in a "Question Time" style format in front of the live audience.

See tomorrow's newspaper for coverage of an event which will give party supporters and undecided voters the chance to see what the candidates are offering in the election which is now just 10 days away after what feels to many like a very long campaign through the winter.

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