Did Degrees Make a Difference? A New Paper Claims Education Was the Big Difference in Last Year's Vote to Leave the European Union. Political Editor JONATHAN WALKER Reports

The Journal (Newcastle, England), August 9, 2017 | Go to article overview

Did Degrees Make a Difference? A New Paper Claims Education Was the Big Difference in Last Year's Vote to Leave the European Union. Political Editor JONATHAN WALKER Reports


THE UK could have voted against Brexit if voters had been better educated, academics have said.

A new paper suggests that a university education was the "predominant factor" dividing those who voted Remain and those who voted Leave.

It even made more difference than age or income, according to the document.

And if just 3% more people had gone to university then the results of last year's EU referendum, when the UK voted to quit the EU, could have been different.

The findings were published by academics from the University of Leicester.

They produced data showing that cities such as Sunderland have a relatively low proportion of people who have been through higher education and voted to leave the EU - while areas such as Lambeth and Camden in London have a high proportion of graduates and voted to remain.

Key findings included: | An increase of about 3% of British adults accessing to higher education in England and Wales could have reversed the referendum result | A decrease of about 7% in turnout in England and Wales could have also changed the result of the referendum | Age did have an impact on voting patterns, with older people more likely to vote to leave, but the impact of age has been exaggerated | Sex is found to be a statistically significant factor but whether a person was born in the UK and their income level were both insignificant factors.

Maps produced by the academics show that 19% of the population in Tyneside, which voted to leave, had a university education.

But 31% of people in York, which voted to remain, went to university.

One exception to the rule was Newcastle, where 25% of people had a university education and a small majority voted to stay in the EU. The proportion who had been to university here was lower than in most remain-voting areas.

The study, by Dr Aihua Zhang, of the University of Leicester's maths department, analysed voting data from the EU referendum and statistics from the 2011 census, taking into account factors such as sex, income level, education, age and employment.

"Higher education is found to be the predominant factor dividing the nation, in particular in England and Wales, between Remain and Leave," the paper says. …

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