The Higher Education Policy Institute (HEPI) has today published my op-ed exploring the strengths of the Sheffield model of student voter registration 10 years on.
Nearly ten years ago I started a conversation between the University of Sheffield and Sheffield City Council to instigate a new model of student voter registration. At the time, we were concerned that fewer students in Sheffield (and elsewhere) would register to vote after the introduction of a new ‘Individual Electoral Registration’ meant universities could no longer register students ‘en bloc’.
After some discussion and with the strong backing of the Vice-Chancellor we agreed to trial a new model, where students in Sheffield could register to vote when they enrolled each year. Subsequently known as the Sheffield Model or ‘auto-enrolment’, this system made a big difference.
It not only offered the opportunity to replace the previous system but offered opportunities to universities that hadn’t used ‘en bloc’ registration. Sheffield Hallam University, for example, estimated it could have the potential to increase student registration rates from 13% to 76%.
I’m delighted that, in the intervening years, almost one in three universities in the country has adopted auto-enrolment, and it is now widely regarded as best practice when it comes to student voter registration. A recent study found that auto-enrolment doesn’t just lead to higher numbers of registrations but confers a whole cache of other benefits.
You can read the full article to learn more about the impact of the Sheffield Model here.