Politics degrees: the new vogue?

By William Costley

In what has been argued as the UK’s most decisive and contentious political period since World War 2, it is unsurprising that commentators attribute the 28% rise in applications for politics degrees, since the 2016 referendum, to Brexit. UCAS has stated that compared with 2013, there has been a 40% rise in applications. Although Brexit is clearly stimulating political interest for young people, it would be pre-mature to attribute it wholly to the current political quagmire.

It is hard to claim that Brexit is the totality of adolescent political concern

Firstly, Brexit is not the only controversial topic grabbing headlines. Extinction Rebellion, the rise of Greta Thunberg, and the appeal towards plant-based diets has also been at the forefront of much political discussion.

With green parties beginning to make its mark on the political landscape (especially in the European Parliament) it is hard to claim that Brexit is the totality of adolescent political concern. Perhaps the bitter and decisive Brexit debate, which seems to pull people into distant political corners, is overshadowing a more youthful and optimistic green movement.

Furthermore, the spike in student applications for politics degrees began at around 2013, which is several years after the 2009 world financial crisis. Additionally, in 2010, it was announced that from 2012 student fees would be capped at £9,000. With the economic order appearing to be set up against students and young people, one could argue that the demise of the world economy has triggered an urgent need for political change.

The spike in student applications for politics degrees began at around 2013

These examples show that not everything is simply down to Brexit. To solely credit the spike in student political interest to Brexit would be another irresponsible move to gloss over other important and pressing world challenges. As Brexit required 3 years to just agree on a Withdrawal Agreement, students may be inclined to solving and questioning more urgent matters.

Image by ZC Comms via Wikimedia Commons

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