Page last updated at 12:35 GMT, Wednesday, 17 February 2010

Students 'cannot name Labour leader'

Joanna Lumley
Many thought Joanna Lumley would do a good job in politics

A third of students do not know Gordon Brown is the leader of the Labour Party and almost half are unlikely to vote in the upcoming election, a poll suggests.

A similar proportion failed to identify David Cameron as leader of the Conservatives, the survey by student accommodation provider Unite found.

The poll of students in England and Scotland found less than half knew Nick Clegg was the Liberal Democrat leader.

The National Union of Students denied students were apathetic about politics.

The Unite poll of 1,566 students found 33% of respondents could not name Mr Brown as Labour leader, while 34% did not know Mr Cameron leads the Tories.

A quarter (24%) were unable to identify differences between the main political parties.

The findings showed 47% of students - which Unite claims is equivalent to more than a million students - would not be voting, or were highly unlikely to.

Sir Alan Sugar
Sir Alan Sugar was admired by students

Four in 10 (41%) believed becoming personally involved in politics, by protesting or joining a party, was more likely to achieve change than by voting.

One in eight (12%) admitted they had no interest in politics.

The survey found a quarter of students (26%) believed actress Joanna Lumley would do a better job running the country than the current candidates, followed by Sir Alan Sugar (22%).

'Students care'

Managing director of Unite Shane Spiers said: "We believe it's important for our residents to feel they can influence issues that matter most to them."

President of the National Union of Students Wes Streeting said: "In many seats up and down the country the student vote has made a decisive difference in previous general elections and will do so again.

"There is a wealth of evidence to show that students care about politics and realise its impact upon their lives such as fees and housing, particularly when it comes to those who seek to charge them more for less.

"Last year, research by Opinionpanel showed that a political party's position on tuition fees would affect how 79% of students would vote in a general election. This is hardly indicative of an apathetic and out-of-touch student population."

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