What Happened When a Warwick Student Asked Last Night’s EU Debate Why Students Should Vote To Leave
Mems Ayinla, Politics and Sociology undergrad at Warwick Uni, called out members of last night’s #EUDebate Panel for not understanding, or sympathising with, the issues facing today’s students.
The debate was held by YouTube, Huffington Post UK and The Daily Telegraph. Aasmah Mir hosted the event which saw Leave campaigners Boris Johnson and Priti Patel go against Liz Kendall and Alex Salmond on the Remain side.
Ayinla directed her question to the Leave campaign, saying “I just want to know what you would tell students in a nut shell, why we should actually leave?”
She went on to criticise the panel, pointing out how much debt students are actually leaving university with.
“Most of the promises you have made to students have actually been decimated and you haven’t actually followed them through” she said.
“So, it would be really nice if you could actually say something to students to actually let them know why we should leave, rather than stay in.”
The broad question caught the panel off guard and Conservative Party member, Priti Patel, responded saying, “I’m very positive in terms of the future for students if we were to vote to leave…
“You know, there is a significant point about this in terms of our governance, you know, having a parliament, sovereignty basically – decisions being made in your interest in Westminster.”
Patel was immediately told to clarify by the Chair.
“Well of course, we currently send money to Brussels” Patel went on. “Effectively, there are no controls over that money – so if we were to vote to leave we’d have that money back, in this country, to spend on priorities such as universities, on research development and on farming as well.”
At this point, Liz Kendall of the Labour party interjected: “The magic money tree!”
The University of Warwick student was asked if Patel’s response was helpful: “No, it hasn’t really ever kind of helped” she said.
The impact Brexit would have on universities was questioned last month after a finding by Times Higher Education listed eighteen UK universities that rely on the EU for over half their research funding.
Data showed that some universities rely very heavily on EU funding, and also listed the university courses which would be most affected by Brexit.
This is something Liz Kendall went on to point out during the debate.
“You know, being part of the EU means students [at university] can study, learn, travel, work in other countries,” she said, “but people are very worried about getting jobs when they leave – especially when they have debt – and they don’t want our economy to be put at risk, and they also know that our universities get incredible funding for top quality, world-leading research.
Ayinla just wanted the panel, and the government, to sympathise with students and understand that uncertainty is not good enough when already burdened with so much debt. She ended her question by saying: “thank you for your response, even though I didn’t really get it, but thank you.”
You can watch the debate in full here.