AS MILLIONS of Scottish voters head to the polls today to decide whether Scotland should become an independent country, many students across the nation are particularly keen to have their say in a decision that will ultimately shape their future.
Irish native Alice Murray is a student at Edinburgh Napier University, and as her peers get ready to vote ‘Yes’ or ‘No’ in today’s highly-anticipated referendum, she finds out why the youth around campus in Scotland’s capital have become more impassioned by the debate than ever before…
Today is one of the biggest moments in Scottish history.
Record numbers of people are heading to polling stations around the country and are casting their votes on what has been a highly debated referendum.
The people of Scotland only have two options, ‘Yes’ or ‘No’.
The possible outcomes of this referendum are few, but the points of discussion are numerous.
While voters across the country weigh up the pros and cons of independence, Scottish students have their own matters to consider.
Education, The NHS, future job prospects and research funding are all topics that Scotland’s students have been evaluating over the last few months, and young people have become more vocal and involved in the debate that influences their future than they previously ever have.
“To call independence an instant fix would be naive but it is a huge step in the right direction and will benefit people from all walks of Scottish life”, is the view of Edinburgh Napier student Deane Laouadi.
Fellow student Jamie Hall believes that “this is our chance to build a fairer, more prosperous country run by the people of Scotland, for the people of Scotland”.
However, just as the rest of the country is split in its beliefs, students too share the same disparity.
Rebecca, who also attends the university in the capital, has financial motives for wanting Scotland to remain part of the United Kingdom. She admitted: “I want to stay in Britain because of the pound and the uncertainty that being independent would bring”.
One thing is certain thus far, the Scottish debate has succeeded in bringing political discussion to the masses.
The country is buzzing with anticipation as we await its fate, and Scotland’s student population are too joining in the excitement.
Around the university campus the word on everyone’s lips is independence; you hear it on the bus, in the canteens, in hushed whispers at the back of a lecture hall…it’s everywhere.
Young people are also taking to social media to publicise their stance on the decision and are being more vocal than ever about their political beliefs.
“This referendum has brought politics to the forefront of our life, I never thought I’d be tweeting about Alex Salmon and David Cameron but it’s exciting and you have to get involved,” said student Carly.
In previous years, the majority of students wouldn’t have considered not voting as casting your vote into a ballot box was seen as something that was only done by those interested in politics.
19-year-old Calum believes that every eligible voter in the country should have an input into deciding Scotland’s future. “I registered to vote for the referendum, each Scottish person should have their say”, he explained.
Since the date that it was decided that the Scottish referendum was to take place, the idea of a young person not voting has become ridiculous. The referendum fight is so close that all students are being encouraged to vote by their peers.
The phrase “you could be the vote that swings it” is travelling around university campuses today as people mill in and out of classrooms wearing yes and no badges proudly.
The campaign has engaged the younger population and made the youth of Scotland excited about politics. Whatever happens tomorrow this fact will be one of the greatest lasting legacies of the referendum.
Going to bed tonight we will be waking up to a new Scotland tomorrow; whatever the outcome of the referendum this country will never be the same.