The Best Student Life. Bristol SU


What are elections?

Bristol SU is a democracy. Which is all well and good, but what does that actually mean?

Twice a year the students of Bristol elect around 600 representatives (or reps as we affectionately call them) to stand up for them on issues related to their time at Bristol.

Could your course be better? Not satisfied with the quality of your housing? Do you want better wellbeing support? There's a rep for that.

Why should I care?

What have SU reps ever done for me? It's a fair question, and the answer is more than you might expect!

If you've ever used Lecture Replay, taken part in a sports club or society or put your feet up in the Bristol SU Living Room congratulations! You've directly benefited from the hard work of reps.

In fact, reps have done so much over the years that we've had to put together a website to keep track of the highlights.

What roles can I run for?

We'll be electing around hundreds of reps and you can nominate yourself to be (almost) any of them!

Whether you're looking for something that involves half an hour per week or something a little more involved there are positions of all levels of commitment.

We know it can be confusing, so we've written up descriptions for every position so you can see what's right for you - or if you just want to know what you'll be voting for!

I've got more questions!

And we've got more answers! Below you can find answers to the most common questions we get about elections. Want to know something that isn't answered here? It's worth having a look at our descriptions of all the roles. Failing that, give our rep team an email here.

I've got a friend who would make a great rep, how do I get them to run?

Tell us about them! If you think they'd make a good rep fill in the Recommend a Friend form and we'll get in touch with them

I don't want to be a rep, are there other ways to get involved?

If you don't want to be a rep you'll still have plenty of opportunities to have your say on how the SU is run. You can:

Vote! Make sure you vote for the candidates you trust to represent you.

Submit a motion to, or attend the Annual Members Meeting (AMM) - where you can choose the policy the SU will work on for the next three years.

Tell your elected reps to vote at Student Council! A smaller scale AMM where elected reps can vote on and ratify policy on behalf of the student body.

Fill in the NSS or Your Bristol Survey

When do elections happen?

There are two sets of elections each year.

In October we elect Course Reps and Faculty 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, NUS Delegates and any Chairs of Networks or Network Committee member positions that haven’t been filled.
All the roles up for election this October can be found on our website.
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.

March 2021 Elections Key Dates:
Nominations open: 1 February

Nominations close: 25 February

Voting opens: 9 March 

Voting closes: 11 March

Results: 12 March


Can I be a rep if I'm 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, Course Rep or Student Trustee 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:

If you are an international student running to be a Full-Time Officer at Bristol SU, you must inform the SU Elections team ( as soon as possible if you will require a visa for the duration of the position. This will not be a barrier to you running for a position but will ensure we can provide the correct support for you if you are successful in your election.

If you receive financial sponsorship, discuss your plans with your sponsor before standing for election in case there are restrictions.

International students on Tier 4 Visas can generally work as a Full-Time Officer under a special provision of this Visa as these roles are recognised by the UK government. However, if you are successful in your election you will need to extend your visa at some point. 

Bristol SU will support international students successfully elected as Full-Time Officers who require a Visa extension through refunding the basic amount of payment due for a visa renewal (currently £475) and the healthcare surcharge related to the visa application.  If you wish to pay for the priority service then you will need to fund the difference in cost yourself.

The University remains the sponsor for your visa and is therefore ultimately responsible for ensuring regulatory compliance. The UoB visa compliance team will support any elected officers through the visa application process. To facilitate this, if you are successful in your election Bristol SU will inform the UoB visa compliance team about the appointment and receive confirmation from them that the relevant information has been passed to the Home Office.

Bristol SU will perform the necessary right to work checks, including noting when the visa expiry date is and ensuring updated documents are seen.

Do the elections have rules?

Yes, the rules can be found here.

How many Course Reps are there for my course?

Each year group of each Undergraduate course has at least one rep. For example, in 2020/21 there will be 3 Classics Course Reps: for first year, second year, and third year.  

Some larger courses have more than one rep for each year. Find out how many reps there are for your year group here

Some joint honours and integrated masters courses have their own reps. At the link above you can also find a list of which programmes are covered by each rep position.

Why can't I nominate myself?

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.