Scottish independence: Student referendum results in large 'no' vote
- 21 February 2013
- From the section Glasgow & West Scotland
A mock referendum among students on Scottish independence has resulted in a large majority in favour of staying within the UK.
Students at the University of Glasgow were balloted using the same question as will be used in the referendum itself, due next year.
When asked "should Scotland be an independent country?", 62% (1614) voted no, while 38% (967) said yes.
Only 2,589 out of more than 23,000 students took part in the poll.
Eight student political societies - including all the major parties - had invited undergraduate and postgraduate students to vote in what was billed as the first large-scale poll of Scottish university students on the country's future.
The Scottish Parliament's inaugural First Minister, Donald Dewar, is among the university's alumni, as are other top Scottish politicians, such as Winnie Ewing, John Smith, Liam Fox and Charles Kennedy.
Former Liberal Democrat leader Mr Kennedy, who is rector of the university, said: "First and foremost, the real winners today are the democratic process itself and the historic reputation of the University of Glasgow in the lineage of the national debate down the generations.
"So my congratulations to the student bodies who showed such a lead here - and to the 2,500 students who voted.
"As rector, I am privileged to be serving a second term at these historic times. I am elected as an independent and conduct myself accordingly.
"What I think is interesting about this result is the extent to which it would seem to reflect the broad swathe of the national opinion polls over the course.
"But there is a long way to go yet as the debate intensifies."
The two student unions, Glasgow University Union and the Queen Margaret Union, hosted the ballot boxes.
Five specific debates and hustings, featuring local and national politicians, commentators and academics, were held on campus in the run up to the poll.
"The real lesson is the extent to which students wanted to hear more of the detail and the arguments involved," suggested Mr Kennedy, whose party is backing the campaign to remain within the UK.
"Both sides need to campaign positively.
'Make up minds'
"Naturally, as a party politician, I take heart from this decisive result."
Yes Scotland chief executive Blair Jenkins was disappointed for the students backing his campaign.
"We have to remember that some 2,500 out of 20,000 students actually cast votes and this undoubtedly reflects the fact that a large section of the student and general population has yet to make up their minds," he said.
"We have made considerable progress in recent polls and we will continue to work tirelessly to convince people, including our students and younger citizens who have the biggest stake in securing a better future, that we have nothing to fear and everything to gain from being a normal, independent country."
Carys Hughes, a representative of the Glasgow University Better Together campaign, thought that introducing Deputy First Minister Nicola Sturgeon on the campus for a whole day backfired for the yes campaign.
"It was because they did this, because they took the campaign away from the students, that they lost," she said.
"Our campaign was led by the students and wasn't consumed by party politics. We talked about the issues."