When do elections happen?
There are two sets of elections each year.
The main Bristol SU elections take place in March, electing Full-time Officers, Chairs of Networks, Faculty Reps, returning Course Reps and Student Trustees.
In October we elect Course Reps for all new students (both 1st year undergraduates and new postgraduates). We also elect JCRs - these are committees who lead their halls of residences. Finally we elect some other roles including Democratic Standards Committee and NUS Delegates.
Please get in touch if you are interested in more information about any of these elected positions.
October 2021 Elections Key Dates:
Nominations open: Monday 11 October
Nominations close: Wednesday 20 October
Voting opens: Tuesday 26 October
Voting closes: Thursday 28 October
Results: Friday 29 October
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 March 2021 Elections the Returning Officer is NUS and the Deputy Returning Officer was Scott Farmer, at Bristol SU. You can email email@example.com 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. You should also upload a photo of your face so people know who you are.
Can I run in an election if I am an international student?
International students are able to be Students' Union Elected Officers, including the Full-time Officer roles (sometimes called 'sabbatical' roles) - in fact we have roles like our Full Time International Students Officer and part-time Chair of the International Network which are targeted specifically at International or EU students. However, there are immigration implications that you should be aware of.
Please note: This information applies to holders of Tier 4 Visas. If you are on a Visa other than a Tier 4 Visa, please contact Bristol SU and speak to adviser from the International Office as soon as possible to understand what your options are.
Candidates for voluntary roles:
If you stand to be Chair, Faculty Rep or Course Rep alongside your studies then please be aware you are only permitted to work a maximum of either 10 or 20 hours per week (your visa will state which).
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.
For candidates for Full-Time Officer roles:
Can PGR students stand for Full-Time Officer roles?
Yes! All of our Full-Time Officer roles are open to PGR students (although it might be odd if you stand for Undergraduate Education Officer!). You can take up the role either at the end of your programme, or as a sabbatical year during it. If you are due to submit your Thesis before you would be expected to start work as a Full-Time Officer (Mid June) then the process is relatively straightforward. If you are intending to take up the role before submitting your thesis, you should consider the following issues:
Can PGT students stand for Full-Time Officer roles?
Yes! All of our Full-Time Officer roles are open to PGT students (although it might be odd if you stand for Undergraduate Education Officer!). As most PGT courses would be ongoing at the point when you would be expected to start working as a Full-Time Officer (mid June), it is important for you to have a clear plan for how you will complete your course. In our experience, PGT students choose one of 2 routes:
I've stood to be 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 firstname.lastname@example.org. 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 email@example.com.
Do the elections have rules?
Yes, the rules can be found on the Elections Rules page - 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?
During the October election we would not expect anyone to need an extension while campaigning for a part time / voluntary role. For the March elections there is still 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 and you must ask first. 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?
Fair representation is only relevant for the NUS Delegate elections in October. It is not in place for the March elections.
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 a certain role / my course rep. Why is this?
Each year we receive 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 firstname.lastname@example.org.