Royal Holloway, University of London (RHUL) has today kick started a campaign challenging universities to strengthen democratic skills and political knowledge of their students and to encourage and provide opportunities for civic and political engagement both on campus and within their wider communities. 

Coinciding with National Voter Registration Day (NVRD), Vice Principal (Education) at RHUL, Prof. Rosemary Deem OBE, signed up to a Charter for Active Citizenship, accredited by the Political Studies Association.  The Charter seeks to resolve historically low levels of youth participation in electoral politics, and declining trust in and engagement with traditional civic and political institutions. 

The campaign is co-ordinated by the PSA’s Young People’s Politics specialist research group.  The Vice Chancellors of the University of Huddersfield and the University of Lincoln are expected to sign next week.

Dr James Sloam, from RHUL and Co-convenor of the PSA’s Young People’s Politics specialist research group said: 

“I’m delighted Royal Holloway has kick started this campaign. Research shows that educational institutions can have a positive and lasting impact upon young people’s civic and political engagement. Clearly not all young people go on to study at universities and colleges, but around half do so.  In this context, higher and further education can play a more pivotal role than ever in fostering civic and political engagement and the rejuvenation of British democracy.

“Additionally, universities have a vitally important role to play in addressing the challenges of an interdependent world; in preparing graduates not only for their roles as workers and consumers, but also as citizens who possess the knowledge, skills, and motivation they need to bring about positive change.

“I urge colleagues at universities and colleges across the UK to sign up to this Charter for Active Citizenship and in so doing, declare a public interest in strengthening their commitment to the promotion of democratic engagement within their respective student communities.”

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