As the UK prepares for the general election in December, students at 22 universities and colleges are being registered to vote quickly and easily using a new service
And the first FE college has now signed up to the service meaning that students attending Grimsby Institute will be able to register to vote as quickly and easily as those at participating universities.
So far more than 2,000 voters have registered under the Jisc student voter registration service, which was launched earlier this year to help English universities and colleges meet an Office for Students (OfS) requirement to enable the electoral registration of students.
The introduction of the OfS requirement was subsequent to changes in legislation in 2017, which followed years of low levels of registrations of 18 to 25 year olds, including students.
With academic registrars faced with extra work to meet these requirements, Jisc teamed up with the Academic Registrars Council, the Association of Heads of University Administration and the UK’s electoral registrar community to launch a simple solution to the problem.
Participating institutions can direct their students securely and transparently to the service. The institutions are free to decide when and how to do this. The service is available all year round.
The service presents the student with a form, which has as many of the fields as possible pre-populated using student information already held by the institution, such as the student’s name and date of birth. The student simply needs to complete any missing information not provided by their institution (eg their National Insurance number), provide their consent to be added to the electoral register and their voting preferences (in person or by post), and submit the form.
Once submitted, this information is provided automatically and securely to the relevant, participating electoral registrars, reducing the effort and expense it would take for members and local authorities to register students to vote across the UK.
The universities and colleges which have signed up to use the service at the time of writing are:
- Aston University
- Birmingham City University
- Bishop Grosseteste University
- Grimsby Institute of Further and Higher Education
- London Metropolitan University
- London School of Economics and Political Science
- New College of the Humanities
- Nottingham Trent University
- Royal Central School of Speech and Drama
- Royal College of Art
- University College London
- University College of Estate Management: UCEM
- University of Bolton
- University of Buckingham
- University of Derby
- University of Gloucestershire
- University of Greenwich
- University of Hull
- University of Nottingham
- University of Wolverhampton
- University of Worcester
- Writtle University College
The service has seen an upturn in student registrations since parliament voted for an election as a result of institutions’ renewed efforts to promote the service to students ahead of the election.
The service also provides a portal for electoral registration officers at participating local authorities. This securely authenticates them as users and allows the download of student applications for their locality, at which point they process the registration as normal.
To date the service has been used to register students to vote in 78 local authorities of the 87 participating in the service.
Josh Howlett, Jisc’s head of trust and identity e-infrastructure, said:
"Getting students registered to vote is an important part of an institutions' mission in promoting civic engagement among their students.
"Moreover, the OfS requires providers of higher education to facilitate electoral registration.
"The Jisc service provides a cost effective and simple solution for both institutions and local authorities registering students to vote.
"We are delighted with the level of engagement we have had with the electoral registration officers and look forward to even more joining the service in the future so they are able to benefit from our data in any future elections."