Every year, students at UCA collectively decide who is going to lead their Union and improve the lives of students where it matters most.
The search is on for students who are passionate about making positive change; whether it’s tackling the cost of living, fighting for a more inclusive campus or ensuring that students have the best possible experience at University. This matters now more than ever.
You could represent thousands of students as President Kent or President Surrey, leading UCASU’s campaigns and work to represent students to the University, regionally, and nationally. You could even be part of UCA governance as Student Governor. If you care about your University and the students in it, it’s time to make a difference.
FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
What are the benefits of being an Officer?
As well as meeting loads of cool people, running for a position and being an officer will help you develop a number of important skills that can enhance your employability and academic development.
Can I run as a first or second year student?
Of course you can! If you get elected to a non-Sabbatical role, you carry out your responsibilities alongside your studies in your second or third year. If you are elected as a Sabbatical Officer, the University lets you take a year out of your studies to work full-time!
Can I run for any position?
Nearly any position! If you run for Union Council or Student Governor you will need to still be a UCA student for your term in office.
Can I run if I’m an international student?
Yes! You can run for any role as long as you are at UCA for the next academic year. If you get elected to a full-time Sabbatical role, you won’t need a new Visa. The University will sponsor your Tier 4 Visa, which allows you to work and undertake a full-time Sabbatical Officer post. You can do the role part way through your course or in the academic year directly after you finish.
Do I need to have lots of experience?
No! People from all sorts of different backgrounds run in the elections. What matters most are your ideas for improving life for students. 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.
I don’t think I can run a campaign on my own!
Everybody feels like this, don’t worry! Every candidate can access staff for support and we’ll put on a campaign workshop to help you run a great campaign.
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!
Don’t worry! Concentrate on the issues that matter most to you and chat to current Officers 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!
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 statement 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.
“Sabbatical Officers get paid an annual wage”
Yes, this is true. Our President Kent and President Surrey (Sabbatical Officers) work full-time in the Students’ Union and get paid an annual salary of £18,473. Alongside this, they are given 25 days of paid holidays, plus bank holidays and additional time off over Christmas. It’s a proper job!
Other perks include joining a fantastic staff team and loads of opportunities to train and develop their skills further.
If you are elected as a Sabbatical Officer, you’ll become a trustee of UCASU, which has a half-million pound turnover and represents over 6,000 students.
"There’s no point, UCASU can’t change anything"
We work closely with University senior management and can influence change through formal committees, but also via campaigning with students and student groups. 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.
"Student activism and student unions are more important than ever!"
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"
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 elected officers, who are Trustees of the organisation, and the student body.
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!"
Everything we do is for students. As a charity, our primary purposes are to represent student’s 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 included an online offering.
"I don’t have enough experience to stand!"
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 student officers that works collectively and supports each other.