PODCAST: They cannot vote but that does not stop international students from the University of Salford from having their say on the General Election.
According to The Office for National Statistics (ONS), over 9.4 million people living in the UK are foreign which makes up over 14.3% of the UK’s population.
In order to vote in the United Kingdom, there are several requirements you need to fulfill. One of them is to be a UK citizen or come from a Commonwealth country.
That is not the case for a lot of international students living in Salford being. That means many residents cannot influence our city’s future.
Cynthia Cutler, from Ohio in the U.S., is a biochemistry student at the University of Salford. She cannot vote in the General Election.
“It’s a little frustrating because it’s gonna impact how I live here in the next semester and whatnot. It’s a little irritating to be on the sidelines and not being able to do anything about it.”
Her description of watching the election unfold from the sidelines is supported by fellow American Josef Leizerowitz:
“I have a visa here for three years. If I was a full-time resident and had a full-time job here I think I would be more frustrated with it. But maybe since I’m here on a temporary basis, I can kind of understand why I’m not participating in the decisions for this country,” says Leizerowitz.
Bulgarian journalism student Viktor Kayed is annoyed he cannot vote: “This shapes our future, these elections, and what if I want to stay here in the UK for our lifetime. What are we supposed to do? Just sit and watch people decide our future? I’m frustrated with it,” says the Bulgarian.
Although they think it is frustrating that they cannot vote, do the international students think the system is fair?
“Yes and no. It makes sense for people like me who is only living here for a year or temporary as a student. But if people are living here as a permanent resident and doing everything else the UK people are doing… It’s a little unfair to people in those situations not to have a say in the government,” says Cutler.
‘Listen to the people’
Norwegian journalism student, Christian Dehlie Lokøy, has been living in Salford since September. He is adamant where our city can improve.
“I’ve only been here three months and what I’ve experienced is that the streets are so dirty. It’s so much garbage lying around. It doesn’t’ feel nice to walk around. So more garbage cans and more people picking up the trash would be a great improvement to make Salford a better place to live in.”
Leizerowitz is clear what he want the next Prime Minister to do for Salford.
“Listen to the people here. People have strong opinions here.”
Kayed wants the next Prime Minister to prioritise safety in Salford whereas Norwegian student has this message:
“Act local to make the country better. There are so many people not living in the big cities,” says Lokøy.
The international view
How would you summarise the General Election 2019?
“Chaotic,” says Lokøy
“Confusing,” adds Cutler.
“Tiresome. It feels like we’re having the same election all over again,” concludes Leizerowitz.