- British Council Survey reveals that the vast majority of 16-year-olds in Northern Ireland oppose Brexit
- 72% of respondents if able to vote, were in favour of the UK remaining part of the EU
- Over two-thirds of respondents felt they would be worse-off outside the EU – with only 14% thinking they would be better off.
- Respondents who identified as British** were much more likely to say they would probably or definitely be better outside the EU – but still fewer than one in three (29%)
- Ambitions to learn further languages was much stronger among those who would have voted to remain in the EU and who felt that they will be personally worse-off after the Brexit vote.
- Respondents from financially not well-off backgrounds* were less likely to say they would be worse-off outside the EU (60%)
- Ambitions to study, learn and work outside the UK were weaker among 2016 respondents than respondents from one year earlier
- Same-sex attracted respondents (80%) were more likely to say than opposite-sex attracted respondents (67%) that they thought they would personally be worse off outside the EU.
The vast majority of Northern Ireland’s 16-year-olds oppose Brexit, new research revealed today (Monday, June 19).
The survey found that if Northern Ireland’s 16-year-olds had the opportunity to vote, most would be in favour of the UK remaining part of the EU, with almost three quarters assuming that the UK’s decision to leave the EU would be personally damaging to them.
Seventy two per cent of respondents said they would vote for the UK to remain within the EU; 13 % said they would vote for the UK to leave the EU, while 11% said they did not know how they would vote.
Over two-thirds of those questioned felt an EU-exit would leave them worse off, with only 14% of respondents thinking they would be better off.
Out of these, Catholics and those identifying themselves as Irish were significantly more in favour of remaining in the EU, and more likely than Protestants or those who identify as British, to think that the EU exit will leave them worse off.
Respondents who identified themselves as British were much more likely to say they would probably or definitely be better outside the EU, however still fewer than one in three of these 16 year olds (23%) thought so. Though significantly, those who identified as British were almost ten times as likely as those identifying as Irish to say they would vote to leave the EU.
Interestingly, the ambition to study, learn or work outside the UK was much stronger among those who would have voted to remain in the EU and who felt they will be personally worse-off after the Brexit vote. This is especially true of respondents who considered themselves well-off, with 60% considering working abroad, compared to only 32% of those from not-well off family contexts who thought they would gain from Brexit and also wanted to work outside the UK.
Those from financially not well-off backgrounds were significantly less likely to say that they would be worse-off outside the EU than respondents from average and well-off backgrounds. Not well-off respondents also expressed the highest level of personal uncertainty about a future outside the EU.
The survey also showed that same-sex attracted 16-year-olds (80%) were significantly more likely to say than opposite-sex attracted respondents (67%) that they thought they would personally be worse off outside the EU.*
The research, carried out by ARK through their annual Young Life and Times (YLT) survey, involved 1,009 young people and was commissioned by British Council Northern Ireland as a way to find out how the EU referendum vote may impact on young people’s intentions to leave Northern Ireland for study or work abroad, as well as their attitude to language learning.
It follows on from their joint collaboration last year through a survey which aimed to gauge 16-year-olds attitudes to internalisation and language learning. This 2015 survey revealed over half of Northern Ireland’s 16-year-olds ‘intended to work abroad’; however ambitions to study, learn and work abroad are weaker amongst this year’s respondents.
Commenting on the survey, Jonathan Stewart, Deputy Director, British Council Northern Ireland, said: “It has been wonderful to collaborate with ARK once again and discover the views of young people in Northern Ireland and how Brexit may affect their international aspirations to study, travel or work outside the UK.
“This survey is especially important, as we plan for mobility and other international programme and opportunities for young people in the coming years.”
Also speaking about the findings was Dr Dirk Schubotz, YLT Director.
He said: “These study findings are interesting and relate well to previous survey research in which we asked 16-year olds whether they intended to leave Northern Ireland and whether they thought they would come back. The British Council support provided us with an opportunity to explore young people’s appetite for international experiences and their desire to learn other languages for this in much more detail.”
The Ark YLT Survey is officially launched at Queen’s University Belfast today (Monday, June 19). More information on this study and the full technical report can be accessed here
To find out more about British Council Northern Ireland visit http://nireland.britishcouncil.org or for more information on opportunities available for post-16 year-olds visit http://www.britishcouncil.org/study-work-create or email firstname.lastname@example.org.