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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 committees 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.

October 2019 Elections Key Dates:
Nominations open: 30 September 9am
Nominations close: 14 October 11:59pm
Voting opens: 21 October 9am
Voting closes: 24 October 9pm
Results: 25 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 October Elections 2019 the Returning Officer is NUS and the Deputy Returning Officer is Dani Glazzard, at Bristol SU. You can email bristolsu-elections@bristol.ac.uk 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. 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 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 (bristolsu-elections@bristol.ac.uk) 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.
 

 

+ 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:

  • You should discuss your plans with your Supervisor to see if they have any concerns about you taking a year out from your research. Due to the importance of these Full-Time roles to University Governance, we would expect Supervisors to give serious consideration to your plans and to raise concerns because there would be legitimate implications for your research (e.g. where there are ongoing research activities which would be impractical to suspend for a year) or success on your programme and not for other reasons.
  • If you receive funding or financial sponsorship, you should check with your funding body if taking up a Full-Time Officer position would effect your eligibility for funding. To the best of our knowledge, most Research Council funding agreements have a provision allowing for a suspension of studies of up to one year in certain circumstances and you should establish whether this provision can apply to taking up a Full-Time Officer role. 

+ 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:

1) Arrange to suspend your studies at the point that you are due to start the Full-Time Officer role and return to complete your course a year later. You should talk to your Personal Tutor or a course leader about how this could work in practice.

2) Prepare to complete your dissertation early so that you can finish your course on time while still taking up the Full-Time Officer role. As many students will be in the process of writing their dissertation at the point when Full-Time Officer roles start, it may be possible to make sufficient progress on your dissertation that you feel able to take up the Full-Time Officer role without suspending your studies. This is a challenging route and students should only attempt it if they are confident in their ability to complete their dissertation to this timescale and that this would be permitted under any Visa or funding arrangements they may be subject to.

+ 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 bristolsu-elections@bristol.ac.uk. 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 bristolsu-elections@bristol.ac.uk.

+ Do the elections have rules?

Yes, the rules can be found on the rules or candidate support 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?

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 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 bristolsu-elections@bristol.ac.uk.