The Best Student Life. Bristol SU

#SUYESYOU banner advertising elections 2018

Elections FAQs

When do elections happen?

There are two sets of elections each year.

In October we elect Course Reps for all new students (both 1st year undergraduates and new postgraduates). We also elect JCRs - these are committee who lead their halls of residences. Finally we elect some other roles including Democratic Standards Committee and NUS Delegates

The main Bristol SU elections take place in March, electing Full-time Officers, Chairs of Networks, Faculty Reps, returning Course Reps and Student Trustees.

Please get in touch if you are interested in more information about any of these elected positions.

First Term Elections Key Dates:
Nominations close: 16 October Midday
Voting opens: 22 October 9am
Voting closes: 25 October 9pm
Results: 26 October onwards 

Who oversees the elections?

All Bristol SU elections are overseen by a Returning Officer (a staff member or external expert) who makes sure that they are fair, transparent and successful. For the main March Elections 2018 the Returning Officer is NUS and the Deputy Returning Officer is Dani Glazzard, at Bristol SU. You can email at any time to ask the Returning Officer a question, voice a concern or report an unfair situation.

What is a manifesto?

A manifesto tells people why you want to represent them and why they should vote for you; it sets out your ideas and plans. Essentially your manifesto needs to say WHY you think you would be a good elected representative and WHAT you would do if you were elected. The manifesto word limit is 300 words. You can only have words in your manifesto box on our website but you can embed links to your facebook campaign, videos, posters / PDFs, pictures etc. This will open a new tab with this extra information, they will only see text in the manifesto box on our website. Have a look at our candidate information pages for some example manifestos.

Can I run in an election if I am an international student?

International students are currently able to be Students' Union Elected Officers, including the Full-time Officer roles (sometimes called 'sabbatical' roles). However, there are immigration implications that you should be aware of;

  • If you receive financial sponsorship, discuss your plans with your sponsor before standing for election in case there are restrictions.
  • If you stand as a part-time officer, then you are only permitted to work a maximum of either 10 or 20 hours per week (your visa will state which).
  • If you stand as a full-time officer, this is permitted under the immigration rules, but you will need to extend your student visa at some point. It is important that you discuss this with an adviser from the International Office before you start the role.
  • This guidance is for Tier 4 student visa holders. If you are here on a different type of visa, you should discuss your options with an adviser from the International Office.

This information is for general guidance and does not constitute immigration advice. If you require more details about your rights or what action to take, please contact the University of Bristol International Student Office

I am a candidate, why am I unapproved?

When you nominate yourself in an election your nomination will appear as 'unapproved'. A member of Bristol SU staff will check your eligibility to stand in that election and approve your nomination. All roles bar course reps will not be approved until their manifesto deadline, course reps should complete the manifesto along with your nomination. 

Once you're approved and the nominations have closed you will receieve an email with next steps! 

What if I can't stand or vote in an election?

If you see a message that says you're ineligible to stand or vote for a particular position please contact It's possible that you may not meet the requirements for that position or there may be a technical error. Please include your full name, University username and the specific position you would like to stand for in your email. 

Can I stand for more than one position?

Sometimes - it depends on the positions. You can stand to be a Course Rep and any other part time position (Chair of Network, Faculty Rep, NUS delegate, etc.). You can also stand to be an NUS (National Union of Students) delegate and any other position. You can either stand to be a Full-time Officer or a Chair of Network or a Faculty Rep. If you aren't sure, please email

Do the elections have rules?

Yes, the rules can be found under the candidate information pages - please read through them carefully. If you have any questions or would like a clarification, please ask the Returning Officer.

How does campaigning work?

In the context of elections, campaigning is what candidates do to get votes - it's not just handing out leaflets, though! Successful candidates take time to listen and speak to students, find out about the current issues relevant to the role they're standing for and persuade voters with ideas and enthusiasm, not just trendy slogans or avalanches of tweets. Check out the candidate support page to find out more on campaigning.

What support is available?

Bristol SU has a team of professional advisers, who offer advice and support year-round to students. They'll be on hand, throughout and after the elections, to help candidates with any wellbeing or academic issues. More information on the Just Ask Advice Service is here. 

Can I get an extension on my university work?

While there is no blanket policy on extensions during campaigning week, the University are sympathetic and advise students to get in touch with their tutors or schools if they think they will need an extension on a piece of work. Extensions will be done on a case by case basis, but the University suggest that if a student can demonstrate meaningful campaigning activity in the week, schools should be willing to consider extensions. If you are having any trouble with this process, you can contact Just Ask for advice and support.

How does voting work?

Bristol SU uses Single Transferable Vote (STV), a representation system in which a person’s vote can be transferred to a second or third choice (according to their stated preference) if their first choice is eliminated during the vote count.

If you want to understand more, take a look at this youtube video explaining how another SU used STV. The most important aspect of STV is that a voter ranks candidates in order of their preference so if you speak to a student who has already decided not to vote for you, convince them to make you their second choice – it could make all the difference when determining the result.

How does fair representation work?

At NUS National Conference 2014, a motion called Fair Representation was passed to ensure that all future delegations to national conference would consist of “at least 50% women, rounded down.” In the year 2013/14, women in leadership was an organisational priority for NUS. The motion was submitted as women students are underrepresented in student politics. The motion aims to ensure that women students are able to have a say in national policy, engage with decision making of the highest level, and stand for election should they wish to.

In order for us to comply with the new regulations, we will be asking all candidates to tell us how they self-define their gender when they nominate themselves online to go to national conference. We will simply ask candidates to let us know whether or not they self-define as women. The official definition from NUS is: "All who self-define as women, including (if they wish) those with complex gender identities which include ‘woman’."

Fair representation only applies to the delegation we send to National Conference.

Who is R.O.N.?

All Union elections give the option for voters to express their wish that nominations for a role should be re-opened.

Voting for this option is usually taken when voters do not feel as though any of the candidates offer viable or credible policies.

Whilst RON is not an actual candidate many Students' Unions have chosen to give a face to the option of RON through people associated with the name Ron. The most notable of recent times has been Ron Weasley.

Should RON win an election at Bristol SU either the post would not be filled or an election would be held at a time deemed suitable to gain the maximum number of voters.

I can't nominate myself for my halls/course. Why is this?

Each year we recieve data from the University on students' halls and courses, but sometimes this data might not be fully up to date or errors might be made in the transfer. If you believe that there are posts missing from the nominations or voting screens, please get in touch

If you have any questions or concerns that aren't covered on this page, please contact