All About the SU Council & NUS Delegate Elections 2020

If you’re thinking about standing for election, but have questions about the Students’ Union, the elections process or the roles available, this guide gives you all the information you need to get started!

More detailed advice is available to candidates once they submit their nomination, but we have done our best to cover what you might be curious about at the moment.

  1. What is the Students' Union?
  2. What does SU Council do?
  3. What other roles are available?
  4. How do I put myself forward for a role?
  5. How does the election work?
  6. Returning Officers and Rules for candidates
  7. What are the benefits of standing for election?

What is the Students' Union?

Welcome to the number one students' union in the country! Our purpose is to represent, support and enhance the lives of University of Sheffield students.

All students of the University of Sheffield are full members of the Students’ Union, and they set its operational, political, financial and strategic direction.

As a member of the SU, you engage in all areas of democratic decision making. Whether that is electing diverse leaders who represent your interests, or participation in decision-making through referenda, petitions, debates, surveys and discussions.

From calling for better student housing, to an end to the tax on period products, or the establishment of the University’s Safety Net Policy, incredible things happen when students come together and fight for the issues that are important to us.

Our Students’ Union has always been led by students who make themselves heard, and Sheffield students need passionate, opinionated and driven students to speak up for them this year as SU Councillors. With 57 positions available, any student, in any year, can be an SU Councillor.

What does SU Council do?

Students’ Union Council is one of the ways in which students run their SU. The Students’ Union used to be run by a Union General Meeting, at which all students could attend and vote. Now, you elect your representatives every year to make decisions about how the SU is run. SU Councillors are current students, who volunteer a few hours of each week to speak up for the students they represent on the big issues which affect their University experience.

SU Councillors meet about 8 or 9 times per year, and this year all SU Council meetings will take place online.

You can read more detail about what happens at SU Council here.

There are 46 Departmental Councillors (one from each department), 8 Representative Councillors (Women’s, BME, Disabled students’, LGBT, Postgraduate Taught, Postgraduate Research, International Students’, Mature Students’) and the Sports, Societies and Ethical and Environmental Councillors. Representative Councillors must be a member of the group that they want to represent.

What other roles are available?

We will also be electing 9 Delegates to the National Conference of the NUS in these elections. NUS delegates represent Sheffield students on a national platform, creating and debating policy, and holding the leaders of the National Union of Students to account. You can read more about who NUS are and what they do here.

Attending NUS National Conference is a one off commitment, and will take place from the 12th-13th April 2021. You'll also receive training and support from staff on all of this, and be part of a movement representing 7 million students!

How do I put myself forward for a role?

Anyone wishing to put themselves forward for an SU Councillor or NUS Delegate position needs to submit a nomination with some essential requirements. This is what the voters will see once voting opens.

This is a statement of your aims and priorities. This is a kind of promise to other students that if they elect you, you will take those things forward.

This is an essential requirement of becoming a candidate.

You can learn more about what you should write in an election statement here.

So that voters can recognise you on the ballot paper. (Supported image formats are .jpeg, .pjpeg, .png, .x-png, .gif, .bmp) The dimensions must be 400px(width) x 400px(height) Ideal image size is: Less than 1Mb.

This is an essential requirement of becoming a candidate.

It’s not essential, but you might also want to create a campaign poster or digital leaflet. This will help you with campaigning online, and you could always print one or two to put in a bedroom window! (please note that distributing leaflets or posters is not permitted as a form of campaigning).

You can read about what makes a good campaign poster, and all the free ways that you can make one, here.

Nominations must be submitted before 5pm on Thursday 29th October at

The "small print"

  • Any ‘Full Member of the Students’ Union’ can stand for election. A ‘Full Member’ is any student at the University of Sheffield, registered as full-time or part-time candidates for degrees, diplomas or certificates which last for at least 15 weeks. Throughout this guide, when we refer to students able to engage in elections, we mean Full Members only. Students of the Sheffield International College are not Full Members of the Students’ Union.
  • You can only put yourself forward for one position on SU Council, but you can stand for both SU Councillor and NUS Delegate!
  • Students facing disciplinary action may not be able to stand in elections but this depends on the nature of the disciplinary - you can speak to us if you’re not sure.

How does the election work?

The timeline of the SU Officer Elections 2020 is as follows, so write these dates down in your diary!

Nominations Open

10am Monday 26th October 2020

Nominations Close

5pm Thursday 19th October 2020

Voting Opens & candidates announced

5pm Tuesday 3rd November 2020

Voting Closes

5pm Wednesday 4th November 2020

Results Announced

Thursday 5th November 2020

You must submit your nomination before 5pm on Thursday 29th October.

Voting & campaigning will only take place over a 24 hour period this year, so campaigning for a role won’t eat up a lot of your free time! Voters will not find out who is running in the election until voting opens at 5pm on Tuesday 3rd November.

This year, candidates in the SU Council & NUS Delegate elections will also be campaigning entirely online. No form of physical campaigning will be permitted, including handing out leaflets or putting up posters in support of your campaign. You can read about the ways you can run a good campaign entirely online here.

The votes will be counted and results announced on Thursday 5th November.

Returning Officers and Rules for candidates

All elections have Returning Officers, who are responsible for any matter relating to the conduct of the election. This includes the power to penalise or exclude candidates from the election if they breach the election regulations. Returning Officers ensure that the elections are fair and properly conducted, in accordance with the regulations.

Confirmed candidates will receive a full briefing on the rules, which cover rules around permitted campaigning activity. You can take a look at the rules for SU Council Elections 2020 here.

What are the benefits of standing for election?

Shape student life

From calling for better student housing, to an end to the tax on period products, or the establishment of the University’s Safety Net Policy, incredible things happen when students come together and fight for the issues that are important to us. As a Councillor you will be in a great position to make things happen for Sheffield students this year!

It's the Number 1 SU in the country!

You just happen to study at the University with a Students’ Union voted as number one in the country for over 10 years running! Anywhere else, the opportunity just wouldn’t be quite the same. It’s also a much bigger than average SU. These things mean there’s more scope to do big things and have a real impact.

Meet some great people

If elected, you’ll get to know 60 other like minded people with the energy and passion to want to stand. There’ll be plenty of opportunities make great friends in the process.

Training, experience and development

All elected Councillors will receive full training for their role, and we will provide any additional training during the year if you feel you need it! Very extracurricular roles will provide you with the skills being a Councillor will give you: Negotiation, critical thinking, public speaking, diplomacy and project management, all while meeting new people from across the University and having fun.