WHAT ARE UNION COUNCIL ELECTIONS?

Every year, you vote for your next Union Council. They used to be called Campus Executive Committee, but we changed it to make it easier to understand. Like your local Council wherever you live, the Union Council is made up of part-time representatives who discuss issues that are affecting you, and suggest solutions. They work with President Kent and Surrey (sort of like your local MPs) who are full-time representatives that work to make positive change for you.

You have the opportunity to run for Union Council, and also to vote for who you want to represent you. The Council is made up of three students per campus (2 HE and 1 FE), and are the voice of students at UCA.

You're also electing one other part-time role - Student Governor. This person will be the student representative on the Board of Governors, the highest decision making body in the University. This means they consult on major decisions that affect students, and can raise issues they think the University needs to address. Student Governor is a one-year commitment, during which you go to 5 Board meetings. It's not a huge time commitment but it can have a big impact.


This year the theme for our Election is 'Reconnecting'. The past twelve months have been more disconnected and isolated than ever. We've not been able to spend time together in class, at events, or even just be amongst the UCA community on campuses. That's why the role of the Union Council, along with our new Presidents, is going to be so important next year. Union Council will:

UNMUTE - Councillors will raise the voice of students in Union Council, and work together on positive solutions.

RECONNECT - Councillors will work together across campuses to build up the UCA community.

PROGRESS - Councillors will work on campaigns that make a difference to life at UCA.

If you would like to reconnect students and rebuild the UCA community in 2021/22, nominate yourself for Union Council. 

  • Nominate yourself
  • Voting Incentives
  • FAQ & Mythbusting

Nominate yourself

Nominations now open

Nominations are now open, and will close at 5pm, Monday 10 May.

If you have any questions about the role or nominations, please contact elections.su@uca.ac.uk

Voting Incentives

FREE GRADUATE MEMBERSHIP

EVERY SINGLE VOTER will get a free Graduate membership to the Students' Union. If you're about to leave or graduate from UCA, having a year of membership (normally worth £20) means that you can still join Clubs, Societies, Communities, and come along to all SU events. Even if you're not leaving this year, you'll have this free one year membership ready for you whenever your time at UCA comes to an end!

Claiming instructions & Terms and Conditions

  1. Every voter in the Union Council Election will be entitled to a one year associate membership to the Students' Union.
  2. This membership can be claimed for the academic year after they graduate or leave UCA, up to 2025/26.
  3. To claim this membership, each student must submit a form for membership and note that they voted in the 2021 Presidential Election.
  4. They will then receive confirmation and details of their membership, free of charge.

FAQ & Mythbusting

FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS: UNION COUNCIL

What are the benefits of being on Union Council?
You are more connected to the Students' Union and student life at UCA than most people; you also have the change to have a direct positive impact on people's lives, which is a unique and rare opportunity. You will get to:

  • Add new skills and experiences to your CV
  • Use your creativity and passion for a good cause
  • Get to know passionate students from across all campuses
  • Have direct influence on issues that affect students

Do I have to be a third year to run?
Nope. If you're in your final year, this is not the role for you! You need to be a continuing student. So as long as you're going to be studying at UCA in the next academic year, you're eligible to run. Even if you're a Foundation or Masters student, as long as you're continuing your studies next academic year, go for it.

Can I run for any position?
You will only be eligible for one position. The positions are:

  • 2 HE per campus
  • 1 FE per campus

So if you are a Foundation student in Canterbury for example, you will only be able to run for the Canterbury FE position. The positions are divided like this to ensure fair representation of all the students at UCA across all campuses and levels.

Can I run if I’m an international student?
Yes! Anyone who is part of the UCA community, as long as they're a continuing student, is able to be part of Union Council.

Do I need to have lots of experience?
Not at all. People from all sorts of different backgrounds run in the elections. What matters most are your ideas for improving life for students, and your passion to help make those improvements. Whatever role you’re interested in, you will get training and support from staff at UCASU who will help develop your ideas and get the most out of your year on Union Council.

I don’t think I can run an Election campaign on my own!
Everybody feels like this, don’t worry! We're offering campaign workshops and manifesto workshops, plus there's training for candidates before voting opens. Anyone at UCASU will also be happy to answer your questions, or help out where they can.It's a good idea to get friends to support you by sharing your campaign and helping win voters on your behalf!

Do the most popular candidates always win?
Candidates sometimes feel like they don’t know enough people to run, but we work hard to give everybody an equal platform to ensure students hear about you and understand your ideas. You don’t have to be a Big Name On Campus to win!

I want to do it but I don’t have any good ideas!
That's okay! Concentrate on the issues that matter most to you and chat to current Presidents, Union Council, or UCASU staff to explore how you could address them in your manifesto. Once you nominate yourself, you can attend workshops that help you to fine-tune your thoughts as you will be able to edit your nomination for a further week. These workshops include information on writing a manifesto where you can learn how best to present your ideas!


FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS: STUDENT GOVERNOR

What are the benefits of being Student Governor?

  • Your voice is heard on the highest decision making body in the University
  • You learn more about the inner workings of the University
  • You get to know senior University staff and benefit from their experience

Do I have to be a particular year to run?
You need to be a continuing student, but it doesn't matter what year you're in! You can do the Student Governor role alongside your studies.

Can I run if I’m an international student?
Yes! Anyone who is part of the UCA community, as long as they're a continuing student, is able to be Student Governor.

Do I need to have lots of experience?
No - you'll get training before taking part, and your responsibility is just to be prepared for meetings and try to get to know a wide range of student views in between meetings.

I don’t think I can run an Election campaign on my own!
Everybody feels like this, don’t worry! We're offering campaign workshops and manifesto workshops, plus there's training for candidates before voting opens. Anyone at UCASU will also be happy to answer your questions, or help out where they can.It's a good idea to get friends to support you by sharing your campaign and helping win voters on your behalf!

Do the most popular candidates always win?
Candidates sometimes feel like they don’t know enough people to run, but we work hard to give everybody an equal platform to ensure students hear about you and understand your ideas. You don’t have to be a Big Name On Campus to win!


HOW DOES IT WORK?

Nominations: We open a ‘nominations’ period, which is when you can put yourself forward as a candidate. We’ll ask you to submit a manifesto about what you plan to do if elected, so students know why they should vote for you. Once nominations close, we will publish the list of all candidates on our website.

Campaigning and voting: Students have two days to cast their vote, so you need to get the word out that you’re a candidate and ask everybody to vote for you.
Voting is based on a system called the Single Transferable Vote. Students vote in order of preference:
#1 against their first choice candidate
#2 against their second choice candidate
#3 against their third choice candidate
And so on.
This means if a voter’s preferred candidate doesn’t receive enough votes, they get knocked out of the running. For this reason, you should ask voters to mark you as #1 first, but #2 if they already have a preferred candidate. That way, if their preferred candidate gets knocked out of the running, you will receive their vote in the next round. This system means students still get a say on who is elected, even if their first choice doesn’t receive enough votes.


MYTHBUSTING

Mythbusting:"There’s no point, UCASU can’t change anything"
MYTH
We work closely with University senior management and can influence change through formal committees, but also via campaigning with students. Here are some key recent examples:
During the first lockdown, UCASU secured a commitment from the University to reimburse all of students’ rent from their term three accommodation - equating to roughly £1 million pounds in total.
We campaigned for ‘lecture capture’ so students could review video of their lectures. This was implemented in summer 2020.
We campaigned for ‘Fair Assessment’ so students’ work would be graded on their skill rather than how much money they spent on creating it. This was added as a commitment by the university in 2019.

"I don't have the time for Union Council, it's a huge amount of work."
MYTH
Of course your studies must always be a higher priority, so we always organise Union Council meetings around the schedules of the members. In between meetings, the amount of work you do is up to you. The more time you spend with students, learning about what matters to them, the better - but this doesn't have to take up a lot of your time if you don't want it to.

"Student activism and Students' Unions are more important than ever!"
TRUTH
With the Government failing to deliver satisfactorily for students during the COVID pandemic and Universities struggling to deliver the quality and experiences students expect, the role of students and their unions in fighting for their rights has never been more pressing. More broadly, students are also at the forefront of local and global movements relating to the climate emergency and racial injustice.

"UCASU is actually run by the staff team"
MYTH
While this is true for the day to day running of UCASU, the political direction and main activity of the Union is guided by our Presidents and Union Council.
As in other member-led charities, managers in the SU make decisions and manage the resources and operations of the organisation. However, UCASU staff are ultimately here to support you, our members, to participate in the activities, campaigns and decisions most important to you.

"UCASU doesn’t do anything for students!"
MYTH
Everything we do is for students. As a charity, our primary purposes are to represent students' interests to the University, improve your education and empower you to make positive social change. We also play a crucial role in your development outside of your degree, by providing opportunities such as sports clubs and societies, and Communities, which this year have been run online.

"I don’t have enough experience to stand!"
MYTH
You don’t need to have experience - just passion. Our staff will help you throughout your campaign, providing training on digital campaigning, as well as manifesto development. If elected, you will continue to receive support and training from UCASU staff and you will become part of a team of Council members that works collectively and supports each other.


WHAT IS UNION COUNCIL?

Union Council is a group of part-time representatives from all four campuses, running from 15 June 2021 to 15 June 2022. Each campus elects one three Council members to represent them - 2 HE and 1 FE. You can be a Union Council member alongside your studies, and it's excellent experience for your future. Union Council is the voice of students within the Union and the University, and is a close collaborator with the two Presidents. Council members have the responsibility of learning about the issues affecting students on their campus, and the power to work with Presidents to make positive change.Council members will:

  • Be the voice for the campus they represent, and make decisions in students' interests

At each Union Council meeting, members can present ideas or issues for discussion, and the Council votes on how they'd like to move forward. Sometimes this includes major decisions such as whether to remove a President from their role.

  • Connect with students to learn about their views and experiences

It's their job to learn about the experiences of a wide variety of people at UCA, so they can be well-rounded representatives. Council members can do this by going to events or forums, or just by chatting to students on their  course and around campus.

  • Assist with campaigns such as Climate Emergency and 'Students Deserve Better'

This might include helping Presidents to organise campaign events or protests, working on campaign resources, or helping recruit students to volunteer with the campaign.Union Council is an exciting thing to be part of; Council members get to know about new projects within the Union before anyone else, they get to make decisions about how the Union directs its funding and staff power, and connect with people in the University or community who can help improve life for students. It doesn't have to take more than a couple of hours a week, but can make such a difference to your year.