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25 April, 2005

Young people highlight student top-up fees as top political issue

At last week’s ‘Letters to the Prime Minister’ discussion at the Institute of Education, one of the key speakers, Ted Wragg, stated that the top education election issue is top-up fees. This is supported by research released today by the Citizenship Foundation, the independent educational charity which promotes young people’s participation in their communities and which has played a central role in the introduction of Citizenship to the school curriculum.

11-18 year olds across the UK from different types of school chose 21 political issues and were asked to rank the five that were most important to them. The results were:

1 Student Fees

2 Smoking

3 Third World Debt

4 War in Iraq

=5 Fair trade

=5 Global warming

What is perhaps surprising from the findings is that the other main issues which are close to their hearts are international ones. Do politicians realize how important these are to the next generation of voters?

In addition to ranking the issues, the respondents answered a yes/no question on each issue:

1. Should University education be free? 91% Yes 9% No

2. Should smoking be banned in public places? 92% Yes 8% No

3. Should developed countries cancel the debts of developing countries?

89% Yes 11% No

4. Should British troops remain in Iraq? 25% Yes 75% No

=5. Should trade rules be tightened to protect poorer countries?

95% Yes 5% No

=5. Should the UK do more to lobby for reductions in carbon emissions?

96% Yes 4% No

Also in the top ten priorities of the young people surveyed were:

• Same-sex marriage

(80 per cent believe that gay and lesbian people should have the right to marry)

• Euthanasia

(92 per cent believe that seriously ill people should be allowed to choose to die)

• School meals

(93 per cent believe that all schools should have a compulsory ‘healthy’ eating menu)

• Immigration (68 per cent believe that Britain’s borders should be open to all).

Fox hunting, reducing the voting age to sixteen, capital punishment, 24 hour licensing laws, recycling, GM foods, reform of the House of Lords, and the health risks of mobile phones all had much lower levels of interest among young people surveyed.

To find out more please email:

Notes for editors:

About the Citizenship Foundation

The Citizenship Foundation is an independent charity (no. 801360) which aims to empower individuals to engage in the wider community through education about the law, democracy and society. Founded in 1989, we focus particularly on developing young people’s citizenship skills, knowledge and understanding.

Our work includes:

• A comprehensive range of citizenship resources for a wide audience from teachers to young offenders.

• Nationwide and international training programmes.

• National active learning projects for secondary schools.

• Community projects to develop citizenship education as a collective responsibility.

• Research to advance our understanding of best practice in citizenship education.


Note to editors

The Citizenship Foundation does not take a position on these issues, but wishes to highlight young people's engagement with political issues.

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