Students at De Montfort University Leicester (DMU) are coming up with ideas on one of the hottest topics in politics – the EU.
DMU’s award-winning Policy Commission is a combination of students and staff who gather views and explore opinions on key issues, led by the Department of Politics and Public Policy.
This year, it is coming up with 100 Ideas for Europe to produce ideas that will inform the debate ahead of the Government’s promised European referendum.
Students enlisted the help of A-level students from schools and colleges from across the East Midlands during a day dedicated to exploring the arguments for and against the EU. Topics including security, culture, the environment, foreign policy and economics were discussed and debated.
DMU Politics lecturers Alistair Jones and Professor Alasdair Blair were on hand to deliver lectures explaining the main issues before a Q&A with three former MEPs who were part of a European Parliament to Campus programme.
Some of the ideas included tackling pollution, enhancing digital democracy to get more young people in politics, ending the controversial EU-US trade deal TTIP, boosting financial aid for small businesses and help for refugees.
Students and academics will continue the debate over the next six months, consulting the public, businesses and other young people to come up a policy document of 100 ideas.
Professor Alasdair Blair, Director of the Department of Politics and Public Policy and director of DMU's Jean Monnet Centre, said: “It is our argument that the UK benefits most from being a committed European partner.
“At the same time, we recognise that there is a gap between the rhetoric of Brussels, the power struggles in Westminster and the realities of everyday life with regard to the European debate.
“Our Policy Commission seeks to fill this gap and in so doing will re-connect civil society so that it is a force for change.”
DMU student David Smalley, studying the Politics of the European Union module, said: “It has given us an insight into the workings of the EU and we also heard how other countries are viewing Britain and the Brexit debate. I am looking forward to getting involved in the 100 Ideas for Europe.”
Among the A-level politics students were Sophie and Kayleigh, of Derby’s Joseph Wright school. “We are doing Europe after Christmas so this has given us a head start,” said Sophie.
Kayleigh added: “It has been a good day. The lectures did a good job explaining all the different issues.”
Previous Policy Commission programmes have come up with 100 Ideas for Leicester and 100 Ideas to Change Britain, which was named one of the best student campaigns in the country in the Guardian University Awards. In a first for any UK university, students took their policy document to a reception at the House of Lords and handed it to highly influential members of the Conservatives, Liberal Democrats and Labour parties.
Posted on Thursday 3rd December 2015