The general election is fast approaching and for most university students, it's their first time voting for a Prime Minister or even first time voting at all. There are numerous different parties to consider in regard to who you can vote for, from Conservative to Labour, Liberal Democrats, the Green Party and many others. Each party have their own views and polices, which can all be pretty confusing.

Here's some advice that may help you through the process of voting.

Know the parties

It's important to know what your choices are and what they stand for. For this year's election in particular, there are several parties that have become more popular in the running. Research their polices, aims and methods for reaching their goals, and decide which one appeals to you the most. I recommend reading the manifestos of each party in order to get this information as clearly as possible, rather than through second-hand sources. Be wary of biased sources such as newspapers, websites, and media outlets, as they can give you inaccurate information that could skew your view. Also be careful of political propaganda from each party and always take each party's statements with a pinch of salt.

Your vote is your decision

Who you decide to vote for is entirely your decision to make and no one else's. Try not to let peer pressure from your friends steer your choice. Remember that no one can force you to vote for a certain party. Including your family, lecturers, work colleagues or anyone else, while it can be insightful to discuss politics with others, their opinions are not yours, and there is no right and wrong opinion. At the end of the day, your vote is confidential so you do not need to tell anyone your decision. Consider this if you are being pressured by others about your vote. Finally, do not feel pressurised to vote if you do not want to, some do not feel comfortable voting which is perfectly fine. Don’t feel that you need to vote for the sake of it.

Where and when?

The general election date is Thursday 7th May, make a note on your calendar, your phone or wherever you will easiest to remember. As for where to vote, ensure that you research in advance where your nearest polling station is located and know how to get there. You only have one day to vote so you do not want to miss it!

Voting as an international student

This may not be known to everyone but if you are an international student, it is possible that you can vote too. Some think that as an international student, your registration to vote only applies for local elections, but depending on your circumstances, you can participate in the general election.

Generally speaking, if you come from a European or Commonwealth country, you may be able to vote. You will need to look into the matter yourself, as there are different regulations for different countries.

Where next?