MOSCOW, September 18 (RIA Novosti) - Scottish citizens as young as 16 and 17 years old will have a chance to vote in the Scottish referendum, and the governmental authorities, together with university officials, are encouraging young voters to speak up and speak out.
The chairman of the Scottish Youth Parliament, Louise Cameron, told the Daily Record that for thousands of young Scots the referendum is a moment of "self-determination" and a chance to choose the right future for their country. "I urge every young person to make sure they participate in this pivotal moment in Scottish history by voting," Cameron said, as quoted by Daily Record.
The newspaper stares that a record 4.29 million people have registered to take part in the referendum, and young people make up more than 100,000 of them.
Those enrolled in higher education are leaning towards a "No" vote, and their professors are motivating them to do so. The majority of academics in Scotland, including those working at the prestigious University of St Andrews and University of Edinburgh, are in favor of the union, according to a poll conducted by Times Higher Education.
Almost 55 percent of respondents plan to vote against the independence from the United Kingdom in a historic referendum set to decide the future of Scotland. Less than 35 percent of the academics at the universities of St Andrews and Edinburgh are in favor of secession, according to the survey conducted in August among over 1,000 staff members and administrators. However, 60.7 percent of the University of Glasgow employees are expected to vote "yes".
Academics are also alarmed that Scottish universities will lose UK-wide financial support. In 2012-2013 Scotland secured approximately 13 percent of the UK research council grants and project funding, according to the British government. That significantly exceeds Scotland"s share of population, GDP and tax contributions estimated to be approximately 8 - 9 percent.
Indeed, some academics have expressed a wish to relocate elsewhere if Scotland votes to leave Britain, the Guardian reports. Professor Louise Richardson, the principal and vice-chancellor of St Andrews, shares that concern. "If we were cut off from national research councils it would be catastrophic for this institution," she told the Times in 2013 adding that the university will lose its top academics.
It has recently been revealed that Alex Salmond, the Scottish First Minister, tried to force Professor Richardson to clarify that remark and issue a statement praising the Scottish government for its effort to address the issue of funding, according to the documents obtained by the Telegraph. The paper described the incident as "the most high-profile example yet of [Salmond"s] questionable campaign tactics which critics say amount to bullying."
Al Jazeera argues that the Scottish government may have given permission for young people to vote because they believed that teenagers would be more susceptible to the romantic ideas of independence. "Yes" campaigners were hired to hand out leaflets to university students, while the Scottish National Party spent over $1,000 on an ice cream truck, which distributed "Yes" posters.
Despite all mentioned above, The Daily Mail claims all SNP efforts are in vain: Scots under 24 are unlikely to say "Yes" to a free Scotland. According to the Scotsman, 16-to-24-year-olds comprise approximately 12 percent of the population of Scotland. The paper noted that students play a major role in supporting the union and voting against Scottish independence. Edinburgh, Lothian and Fife were more inclined to vote "No", while central and west Scotland opted for independence.