Following the first two live television leaders' debates, interest in politics is soaring ahead of the general election. Reporter DAN COOMBS paid a visit to Uxbridge College in Park Road, Uxbridge, and spoke to five students, to see if they plan to be first-time voters
JUMAN ISLAM is 18. Studying business, he keeps up with the latest news on the economy and what it means for the country.
He said: "I started becoming interested in politics around the time of the recession, 18 months ago, when several companies like Woolworths were going bust.
"I watched the chancellors' debate on television and was impressed by Vince Cable, but I do not think the Liberal Democrats are going to get elected.
"The Lib Dems can say what they want, and say the unbelievable to get headlines, because they do not have any real expectations of coming into power.
"I do not think Labour are going to win either - they have been in power for 13 years, but what have they done?
"They want to introduce a jobs tax to increase national insurance, which I think is a mistake, and they took us into an illegal war in Iraq.
"Gordon Brown fails in everything he does, and his party took us to war with taxpayers' money. They were meant to find weapons of mass destruction but found nothing - it was all about oil.
"I am going to be driving soon and the price of petrol is too high. I have decided that the Conservatives will get my vote."
SUKHPREET LALL is 20 and has ambitions of becoming a pharmacist and continuing her studies at a London university. She said: "I saw a little bit of the leaders' debates, but what concerns me more is making my decision at a local level.
"I am focusing on what directly affects me and my life and where I live, rather than what the parties are saying nationally.
"I live in Langley and we have had campaigners knocking on our door canvassing.
"I am supporting Labour. We had a situation in our street where there were worries about anti-social behaviour and there were not enough police, so we got in touch with our MP and it happened.
"That (crime) was my biggest concern. Being a student, I do not look too much at the economy because I do not feel it affects me so much.
"Politics is not something I talk about with my friends too much, but I am sure everybody has their own opinions, and these will be different depending on where we live.
"To vote is important to me as it means I am able to put forward my opinion."
FAYEQ RASHAD is 19 and will become one of many first-time voters at the general election.
He said: "I am interested in politics, and we have to be, because it affects how politicians run the country.
"Education is important to me, and so is a low crime rate - even making the area look nice.
"Having cultural centres and facilities are also important. Local elections and issues are of interest to me.
"My local MP is Virendra Sharma in Southall and he is Labour. I think he has done a good job in the two years I have lived there.
"He has helped to improve the roads and I have also seen the crime rate drop.
"All my friends are going to vote. If you don't vote, then you have no say in how the country is run."
FAHAD AMJAD is 19 and studying computer science, and has not been particularly engaged by the election so far but is still intent on voting.
"Generally politics does not interest me, but the issues being debated do.
"The big matters to me are the economy and my safety in the area - there needs to be less crime.
"There are too many taxes at the moment and there should be less.
"My biggest problem is that I find transport is expensive and that it costs too much to go to places. The train fares are too much.
"I will vote for Labour, they came to visit our house and our family was impressed by that. My dad has always voted Labour."
EUGENE ANANG, a business studies student, is only 16 so is not yet old enough to vote. But he has been watching the build-up to the general election with interest, and keeps up to date with the topics being discussed by the party leaders.
"Ever since the recession I have been following politics. I am concerned about the amount of debt the country is in; the figures are mind-blowing.
"When I finish education and am looking for a job, I want the prospects to be good.
"I still don't know which way I would vote if I could, there is so much information out there. It is not easy to make a firm decision.
"For me, education and the economy are the two biggest issues.
"I don't agree with a lot that is written about the NHS. My mother works for the NHS and they do a lot of great work. It is not all about people dying in hospital beds, like some of the newspapers make out."
Would Eugene like to see the voting age lowered?
"I don't think it should be lowered to 16. A lot of young people are very impressionable, and would only vote by following their parents' advice."
SIXTH-FORMERS at Bishop Ramsey School in Ruislip took the chance last week to grill the candidates hoping to represent them in parliament.
Only a minority of the students in attendance were eligible to vote, but undeterred, they displayed an awareness of key issues and an enthusiasm to participate in the debate.
Answering the students' questions were the hopefuls for the Ruislip, Northwood and Pinner seat: Nick Hurd (Conservative), Graham Lee (Green Party), Anita MacDonald (Labour) and James Pontey (UKIP).
the Liberal Democrats, because the party's candidate, Thomas Papworth, was ill. Climate change was the first topic. Mr Lee said: "The Green Party is committed not just to talking about carbon emissions but reducing them."
Then Mr Cox was asked about school class sizes. He said: "It is primary schoolchildren who need it the most, and will benefit most from smaller class sizes and a closer relationship with their teacher.
"We the Lib Dems have been very clear on where we would cut to fund more teachers, while the others have been very wishy-washy."
Entering a debate about ID cards, Mr Hurd told students: "We have had too many examples where personal data has been left on trains - that is my reservation, that the information gets lost. We already have a perfectly good form of identification with passports."
Mr Pontey added: "Lads, have you seen internet pornography? Do you think that is anonymous? It is on the servers, it's there if someone wants to find out what you are doing. It's not about what you can do to stop it, it's about what government you can trust."
When the country goes to the polls next week, A-level politics students at the school will hold a mock general election, complete with mock student candidates for each of the major parties.
Teacher Amy Kerbel said: "The students were absolutely brilliant; they really listened and co-operated in asking insightful questions. It shows politics is still relevant to young people."