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.
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.
In term 2 we'll be electing around 440 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 a full time paid role 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!
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. Voting in this year's elections will run from 10-12 March.
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 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.
March 2020 Elections Key Dates:
Nominations open: 27 January 9am
Nominations close: 27 February 11:59pm
Voting opens: 10 March 9am
Voting closes: 12 March 9pm
Results: 13 March onwards
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 (firstname.lastname@example.org) 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 run to be a full-time officer?
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 run to be a full-time officer?
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.
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 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.