COUNTDOWN to the elections has begun and in less then two months, Chichester residents will cast their votes on not only who will run the country, but also represent their district and some parish councils.
And election fever is already sweeping campuses at the University of Chichester.
A number of students have been appointed ‘election ambassadors’ and both the Chichester and Bognor campuses will host a hustings night with their local parliamentary candidates next month.
The Student Union has been in election overdrive, with the aim of encouraging as many of its students as possible to take an interest in politics and vote in the May elections.
Vice-president Lizzie Mutter explained: “We’ve been doing quite a lot, we are currently holding our Student Union elections, but once they’re over it’s going to be full-blown general elections.
“We’ve hired students to be election ambassadors and they’ve been going around with tablets, registering people to vote and showing them how to register.
“They’ve already spoken to between 300 and 400 people and it’s information like students being able to register at two addresses that people don’t always know.”
On Tuesday, April 14 and then the following Tuesday, April 21, the local parliamentary candidates for both areas will be at Bognor and Chichester campuses respectively.
The evenings will be hosted by politics lecturer Oliver Daddow and see students quiz the candidates, who will represent the major political parties at the general election.
Student Union members have also been busy producing a number of leaflets to help students get to grips with some of the terms and issues.
WHAT WILL SWING THE STUDENT VOTE?
TO start our pre-election coverage we quizzed students, who will be voting for the first time, on what issues matter to them.
Charles Green, 19, a first-year social work student, said university fees and the amount of disability support on offer would be the key to his vote. He said: “Because of my financial situation, lower fees will mean less worry.
“Also, being a disabled student, being able to get extra support is the difference between passing and failing.”
Third-year history student Ellie Burley, 20, said the main issues for her were education, party policies and funding towards post-graduate education.
She said: “These issues are important due to me being in my third year and potentially furthering my education.”
Chloe Massey, 20, a third-year sport and exercise psychology student, feels that university changes, the NHS and housing are important to her.
Meanwhile Jodie Hope, 21, Student Union president, believes housing should be made more affordable for young people starting their careers and that tuition fees should be lowered to help those who struggle to afford to go to university.
“The government needs to understand the importance of investing in young people and education,” she said.
“Tuition fees should be lowered and there should be more funding for post-graduate study that is affordable to all.”
Income tax, student fees, affordable housing for first-time buyers, jobs and immigration were all important factors for Rebekah Flatman, 21, a third-year media and cultural studies student.
For Hebe Sims, 20, a third-year sport and exercise science undergraduate, affordable housing and protecting the NHS from privatisation are the main issues.
“I would like a career within the NHS and it’s important to allow the country to uphold national health and penalise those who can’t afford the private healthcare,” she said.
There were mixed views on the live televised debates, scheduled to take place just before the general election. Some felt the issues raised wouldn’t affect them and would simply be a ‘public slanging match’, while others thought it would help influence their decision.