25th January 2021

All about the Sheffield SU Officer Elections 2021

SU Officer Elections Poster

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, so take some time to read it fully.

More detailed advice and training is available to candidates once they submit their nomination, but we have done our best to cover the things you need to know at the moment

  1. What is the Students' Union?
  2. What do the SU Officer team do?
  3. What's different about elections this year?
  4. What other roles are available?
  5. How do I put myself forward for a role?
  6. How does the election work?
  7. What are the benefits of standing for election?
  8. What support will I have if I stand?
  9. What happens if I'm elected?
  10. Appendix
Candidate Posters

Have your say!

What is the Students' Union?

Sheffield Students' Union is one of the biggest charities in Sheffield. We exist to ensure that Sheffield students are represented and supported, and have the best university experience whilst studying at the University of Sheffield.

Founded in 1906, we promise our students the best university experience: top quality education, life-changing opportunities and experiences that liberate and support them for the best possible future. All within a strong Students’ Union run by and for students.

Our services, facilities and activities exist to create a community of students who make their voice heard on their student experience. We deliver activities such as elections, volunteering student societies and events. We also deliver commercial services that include retail, bars, catering, entertainments and a nursery, which ensure that the Students’ Union which allow us to re-invest in vital welfare, academic and social services.

What do the SU Officer team do?

Each year, a team of students are democratically elected to lead the SU for the following year. They are paid £20,130 (tbc) to work full time for one year, making sure that our 30,000 students are heard and have what they need to learn and thrive whilst at University.

They keep in touch with your views and meet with the senior leadership of the University to tell them what students want and need to have a great student experience in Sheffield. They work to tackle all issues to do with student life - from national campaigns, to student welfare, to things you want to change on your course, as well as making sure the SU offers what you want it to.

Full Time Officers


Role Description and Pay

Activities & Development Officer

Role Description and Pay

Education Officer

Role Description and Pay

Welfare and Sustainability Officer

Role Description and Pay

Liberation Officer

Role Description and Pay

International & Community Officer

Role Description and Pay

Welfare & Sports Officer

Role Description and Pay

Part Time Officers

We have also included the responsibilities of these Part Time Officers which were approved in the Referendum, but please be aware that these positions will not be elected now, but later on in the semester.

  • Represent and promote the views and interests of Postgraduate students.
  • Develop and support activities that improve the welfare of Postgraduate students.
  • Lead on the development of activity to include Postgraduate students in University life.
  • To be an Ex-officio member of the Postgraduate Students’ Committee
  • Represent and promote the views and interests of mature students and student parents.
  • Lead on the development of inclusion and access improvements for mature students and student parents.
  • Lead on the development of activity to include mature students and student parents in University life.
  • To be an Ex-officio member of the Mature Students’ Committee
  • Represent and promote the views and interests of women students.
  • Lead on the development of inclusion and access improvements for women students.
  • Lead campaigns to create an environment free from all of forms of discrimination.
  • To be an Ex-officio member of the Women’s Committee
  • Represent and promote the views and interests of black and minority ethnic students.
  • Lead on the development of inclusion and access improvements for black and minority ethnic students.
  • Lead campaigns to create an environment free from all of forms of discrimination.
  • To be an Ex-officio member of the Black and Minority Ethnic Students’ Committee
  • Represent and promote the views and interests of disabled students.
  • Lead on the development of inclusion and access improvements for disabled students.
  • Lead campaigns to create an environment free from all of forms of discrimination.
  • To be an Ex-officio member of the Disabled Students’ Committee
  • Represent and promote the views and interests of LGBT+ students.
  • Lead on the development of inclusion and access improvements for LGBT+ students.
  • Lead campaigns to create an environment free from all of forms of discrimination.
  • To be an Ex-officio member of the LGBT+ Committee
Candidate campaigning

Campaign on the concourse

What's different about elections this year?

New SU Officer positions for elections!

As above, a newly structured officer team will be elected this year, as voted for by you in the Officer Roles Review Referendum!

Online only Elections

Nothing about this academic year has been ordinary. We know that it can be harder than ever for students to engage in activities, build their confidence, speak up for what they need and meet new people. At the SU, we continue to do everything we can to support you, and elections are no different.

Due to national restrictions and the risk of transmission, elections activity will be taking place online, and at the moment, there will be no in person campaigning activity. We want everyone thinking about engaging in elections to be prepared for this, though we will revisit this decision continuously as the national picture and relevant guidance changes.

There will still be excellent opportunities for reaching the voters, engaging with other candidates and great training available to boost your digital skills during the elections, so definitely don’t be put off!

What other roles are available?

Elected Student Trustee

As a registered charity, the Students’ Union is led by a Board of Trustees. The Board is made up of the Full Time SU Officers, 2 elected student Trustees, 2 appointed student Trustees, and a number of appointed external Trustees, who are not current students. The Trustee Board is responsible for our legal and governance obligations as a Charity, and the reputation and financial stability of the organisation, as well as the staff who work for the Students’ Union.

Elected Student Trustees will attend meetings of the Trustee Board (usually 4 per year) to give the student perspective on any decisions made. It’s an important role with heaps of experience, any employer would be impressed to see it on your CV!


Referenda are all student votes. We use them so that all students can make big decisions about the future of the Students’ Union. Every year students will vote on whether we should remain affiliated with the National Union of Students. This year you will also vote on edits to our legal governing document so that we can create the positions of Part Time Officers (which you voted in favour of in January!)

Voting in the Referendum happens at the same time as the elections.

How do I put myself forward for a role?

Anyone wishing to put themselves forward for an Officer position needs to submit a nomination with some essential requirements. This is what the voters will see once candidates are announced, and when voting opens.

1. A manifesto of up to 250 words

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.

2. A photo of you

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.

3. A campaign slogan of up to 6 words

All candidates choose a short, catchy slogan to spark interest and help the voters remember you and your campaign.
This is an essential requirement of becoming an Officer candidate.

4. A campaign poster

A PDF file that will be readable when shrunk down to a quarter page size - 12cm tall x 8.5cm wide.
After nominations close, a booklet is published with an advert for every candidate. It's your chance to communicate your manifesto creatively.
This is an essential requirement of becoming an Officer candidate.

Other things that it will be useful to have if you are standing for an Officer position are:

  • A campaign video - You can also submit a short video about your manifesto. This is optional but likely to boost your chances! You can see examples of past campaign videos at the Sheffield SU YouTube Channel.
  • Helpers - Most candidates gather together a team of friends or volunteers. This can make your campaign more effective and just more fun. Your campaign team will receive specialist training to make your campaign shine. And their moral support can prove equally valuable.

Nominations must be submitted before 5pm on Friday 5th March at sheffieldsu.com/elections

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.
  • For all roles, if you are not in the final year of your course, you will need to speak to your department about the potential of taking a year out of your studies if you were elected.
  • You also need to be prepared to take on the role of trustee of the SU, a position all Officers also hold. This involves formally overseeing the SU’s activities and accounts alongside the rest of the Board of Trustees. Trustees cannot be under 18 and can’t have been declared bankrupt or banned from being a trustee or company director.
    You can read more about being a Trustee at the end of this guide.
  • Full members who are employed by the Students’ Union can NOT hold office. You would be able to stand in the election, but if elected you’d need to give up your SU employment before taking up the elected position.
  • 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.
  • If you’re successful, you’ll be committing to a full time job in Sheffield from sst July 2021 to July 2022, and a mandatory 10 day handover period from Thursday 18th June and an overnight residential in late June or early July.
  • And finally, you can only stand for one Officer Position!
Candidate campaigning

Meet new people

How does the election work?

The timeline of the SU Officer Elections 2021 is as follows, so write these dates down in your diary!

Publication of Notice Friday 22nd January 2021
Nominations Open 10am Monday 22nd February 2021
Nominations Close 5pm Friday 5th March 2021
Candidate Training and Support From Saturday 6th March
Candidates Announced 10am Monday 15th March 2021
Voting Opens 10am Monday 22nd March 2021
Voting Closes 5pm Wednesday 24th March 2021
Results Announced 7pm Thursday 25th March 2021

If you do become a candidate in the elections, there are some additional deadlines you’ll need to be aware of in order to plan your campaign:

Attend a candidate academy sessions (Between Monday 8th February - Friday 12th March)
Attend candidate training day (Sunday 7th March)
Submit your campaign poster (Wednesday 10th March 5pm)
Submit your campaign banner and video (Thursday 11th March 5pm)

Publication of Notice: Friday 22nd January 2021

We public “notice” of elections before they begin, so that students are aware that an election is coming!

Nominations:10am Monday 22nd February - 5pm Friday 5th March 2021

During this time students can submit their nomination for whichever position they have chosen, and can still make changes to their manifesto, slogan or photo if they need to. Once a nomination has been received the elections team will get in touch to give you more detailed information about being a candidate.

Candidate Training & Support: from Saturday 6th March 2021

From this time, candidates will take the time to work on their campaign, producing their campaign materials and planning their campaign strategy. During this time candidates must not publicly announce that they are standing for a position in the elections.

Campaigning - 10am Monday 15th March 2021

From 10am on Monday 15th March candidates will be able to announce that they are standing for a position and begin campaigning. The Students’ Union will publish the candidate guide, with details of all candidates for all positions, and will publish candidate videos on the SU YouTube channel.

You’ll need to be able to commit a significant amount of your time during this period to running your election campaign. Before you make a final decision, you’ll want to consider the demands of the campaigning period (the period between being announced as a candidate and the end of voting), and the role itself. You need to be sure that the timing of those things can sit alongside other commitments or interests in your life.

  • There is then a candidate rest day on Sunday 21st March. On this day, all day, candidates cannot campaign. Use this day to rest and recuperate and get ready for voting to open on Monday.

Voting: 10am Monday 22nd March - Wednesday 24th March 2021

Voting (or “polling”) in the elections is conducted online, and voting will open at 10am on Monday 22nd March, and will remain open until 5pm on Wednesday 24th March. Any student at Sheffield University can vote for any of the Officer or Trustee positions at Sheffield University Students’ Union at sheffieldsu.com/vote.

At Sheffield SU we use the Single Transferable Voting (STV) system for all elections. Under this system, voters rank candidates in order of how much they want them to win. When the votes are counted, if no one wins the election on first preferences alone, the other preferences cast by voters are redistributed until someone wins.

Results: Thursday 25th March 2021

On the day following the close of voting, the final results will be announced from 7pm.

Forge Debates and coverage

Forge is Sheffield’s student media. Forge is run by students and is split in to 3 different outlets: Forge Press, who produce written online coverage and a newspaper, Forge TV and Forge Radio.

Forge are heavily involved in elections and undertake lots of activity during campaigning and voting, so as a candidate you’ll be seeing a lot of them! All 3 Forge outlets are Working Committees of the Students’ Union, so all of their elections coverage is required to be neutral, and must not favour any candidate.

They hold debates for all candidates in the Officer elections, conduct interviews with individual candidates, cover what’s happening in the elections online and in print, and host and broadcast the results evening party.

Forge TV coordinating debates

Celebrate having a voice

What are the benefits of standing for election?

Shape student life

Making a difference on what it means to be a student here is a big motivation for lots of people. You might be thinking in terms of equality, academic opportunity or being part of a wider student movement with a big voice and a strong conscience. Or you might have ideas about how to make sports or activities better here. Whatever your motivation, standing for office gives you a chance to shape what happens next.

Unique experience

Thousands of graduates will enter the working world through graduate schemes at big firms, but only a handful will gain the kind of organisational leadership experience that leading your SU has to offer. As well as fulfilling your specific role, you’ll be part of the trustee board, work with SU’s CEO and the University’s Vice Chancellor, work with local MPs and deliver communications and events for tens of thousands of students.

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 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

You’ll get to know likeminded people with the energy and passion to want to stand. There’s plenty of training and events for candidates and people often say they made great friends in the process.

Training and development

Whether it’s the programme of training, taster, and information sessions organised specifically for candidates, or the training and support Officers receive as part of their role, very few people across the country will experience the kind of development opportunities that candidates and elected Officers at Sheffield Uni SU will.

What support will I have if I stand?

Candidate Academy – training, and drop ins can be attended by anyone during the nominations period to help you decide if standing for election is for you. After the close of nominations confirmed candidates will also receive more specialist training to support them throughout the election. You can take a look at all of the available sessions below. Any student can come along and there's no need to register in advance.

How to write a winning manifesto, and effectively communicating your campaign as a candidate.

1pm-2pm Friday 19th February meet.google.com/smk-upnu-mte

3pm-4pm Wednesday 24th February meet.google.com/crm-iiea-dqi

1pm-2pm Tuesday 2nd March meet.google.com/smk-upnu-mte

Everything you need to know about standing for election at Sheffield SU

3pm-4pm Wednesday 17th Feb meet.google.com/kwd-oiup-gpx

1pm-2pm Friday 26th February meet.google.com/fph-rpjz-npf

3pm-4pm Tuesday 2nd March meet.google.com/wqc-dasu-wuo

Compulsory training for all candidates on everything you need as a candidate: rules briefing, core campaigning skills, public speaking and persuasive conversations, videography and social media training, and a chance to meet the individuals who are core to elections at Sheffield SU.

Sunday 7th March 10am-3pm, session link will be sent directly to you if you become a confirmed candidate.

Meet the SU Officer team in an informal space to ask questions about the elections or the role.

Wednesday 10th March 4pm-5pm, session link will be sent directly to you if you become a confirmed candidate.

details tbc, session links will be sent directly to you if you become a confirmed candidate.

Breakfast briefings – during voting, daily breakfast sustenance, voting stats and campaigning top tips will be on hand to fuel your final efforts.

Staff support – the elections team is on hand to help – contact elections@sheffield.ac.uk or call into the Student Groups Support Office next to Coffee Revolution to speak to Sarah about any aspect of the elections or the roles available.

A budget - will be available to all candidates for Officer positions in line with election rules which are there to ensure fairness. Everything you spend up to this amount will be reimbursed to you.
Candidates for elected student Trustee can spend up to £10, which will not be reimbursed by the SU.

A community of candidates – the other people standing can be a big source of inspiration, support and ideas. You’ll be in touch with your fellow candidates from start to finish, whether during events such as debates, breakfast briefings, out and about on campus or in the candidate hub in the SU building.

Wellbeing buddies - every year staff at the Students’ Union volunteer their time to be buddies to candidates. Meeting up with your wellbeing buddy is a great way to take a break from the elections and chat with someone totally neutral. It's up to you when, how and where you meet your buddy, whether that’s a chat over a coffee or a walk around the park.

Other specialist wellbeing guidance - When a nomination is received, the team will get in touch with more detailed information and opportunities available to candidates, from networking sessions for candidates from underrepresented groups, to free Give it a Go tickets.

Candidate at a rally

Make your voice heard

What happens if I'm elected?

The Officer roles at the Students’ Union are all full-time, paid jobs. Based in the Students’ Union building, you would spend the year, from 16th June 2021 to July 2022, working to make student life in Sheffield as brilliant, liberated and rewarding as possible.

If you are due to graduate in the summer, you would start your job soon after finishing your studies. If you’re still due to be a student next year, you’ll need to speak to your department about taking a sabbatical year (leave of absence) from your studies for that year.

Once in the job, with support from staff, you’d turn your manifesto into a set of objectives, coordinating with your Officer team mates. You’ll become the face of the SU. The role is very varied and any day could include anything from collecting student views on an issue to conveying those views in meetings with senior University staff to creating campaigns on your manifesto pledges, to representing the SU on TV and radio, or hosting an SU award ceremony!

Along with the other Officers, you’d also be part of the student leadership team overseeing the direction of the SU as a whole and representing its members to the university, the local community, the wider student movement or whoever else you think it’s important to be in touch with.

What support will I receieve if elected?

  • Our Human Resources team will be in touch with everything you need to know about beginning work; how and when to book annual leave, and the benefits available to you once you are employed by the Students’ Union.
  • You receive a handover from the outgoing Officer and have the chance to ask their views or advice on any aspect of the role.
  • An induction is organised for you by the Human Resources team, supporting you to fully digest the responsibilities of your role, the resources available and the relationships you’ll need. They also support you to set realistic objectives for the year, and communicate these to students.
  • You are supported by the senior management team (staff in Director roles at the SU) to understand how the SU is run and to develop your management and leadership skills.
  • You are also supported by a wide range of staff and specialists across the SU, from issue specialists in the Specialist Development team to marketing and communications staff or events managers.

About being employed at the Students' Union:

  • Officers usually work 35 hours per week Mon-Fri, but the nature of the role requires some out of hours working.
  • A typical week might involve a mixture of meetings with SU or University staff, attending student events and some time at your desk progressing other work and projects.
  • The current yearly salary for Officers is £20,130 per annum, and the salary for the incoming team is confirmed by SU Council every year.
  • Officers also work during vacation periods, but like all staff are entitled to a certain number of days of annual leave (booked days off) per year.
  • An Officer role is a paid, full-time job and you may need to consider any impacts on your immigration status. The Student Advice Centre can support you in writing any necessary visa applications. You can book an appointment with their International Student Advisers by emailing advice@sheffield.ac.uk.


Your start date would be Wednesday 21st June 2021. You will be expected to be in work for the handover period, the first 10 days after you start, including an overnight residential during that time, so hold off on booking any holidays until after the elections!

We hope that gives you a good flavour of what being a Candidate in the SU Officer Elections is like! And if your question isn’t answered here, there are a number of ways to get in touch:

Email: elections@sheffield.ac.uk

Candidate being interviewed

Candidate Interviews

Candidate being interviewed

Live debates

Forge TV coordinating debates

Forge TV


Trustee Information Pack
February 2021

Please read the information pack before submitting a nomination at www.sheffieldsu.com/elections.

Each year, alongside SU Officer Elections, University of Sheffield Students elect two Student Trustees to the Sheffield Students’ Union Trustee Board. All SU Officers also hold the position of Trustee as part of their role.

About the Students' Union

Founded in 1906, Sheffield Students’ Union has a long and proud tradition of representing, supporting and enhancing the lives of our members. We launched a long-term strategy – Ours for Life – one that will last us a generation. Our services, facilities and activities are designed to create a sense of community and encourage student leadership. We deliver excellent services that including retail, bars, catering, entertainments and a nursery: all of these activities ensure that the Students’ Union is a “destination” for our members whilst enabling us to re-invest in vital welfare, academic and social services. We are outward-facing and support our students to participate in their local community.

Our purpose is to represent, inspire, involve and independently support our members. We are focused on maintaining our reputation as an outstanding student-led organisation in the UK.

See more for further information about Sheffield Students' Union, our charitable purpose and strategic objectives.


Being a trustee in a Students’ Union is extremely rewarding. You will bring knowledge and experience to maintain an oversight of a wide range of activities at a strategic level in a dynamic, forward-thinking organisation. Confident and diplomatic, you will be an independent voice, providing constructive challenge and thoughtful solutions.

If elected, you will work as part of a seventeen-member Trustee Board who are responsible for the governance, strategic leadership and oversight of the organisations finance. This is an unpaid volunteer role with significant opportunities to learn new skills, work with a team and gain a detailed insight into how a large charity is run. The Trustee Board meets 4-5 times a year, with the opportunity to serve on one of the specialist Board Committees. Induction, training and support is provided for all trustees. The Trustee Board navigates the challenges and opportunities of being led by our members whilst complying with its responsibilities under charity law and its commitment to deliver good governance.

If you feel you can contribute to a democratic, values-driven, large charity with an ambitious strategic plan and a commitment to transforming lives, we will be delighted to hear from you.

View the Role Description and Person Specification.

Terms of Office

Student Trustees who are elected serve for a one year term of office. Elected SU Officers also serve as trustees during their one year term of office.

Elected Student Trustees wishing to serve another term may only do so by standing and being re-elected to the role (up to a limit of four terms in total)


In order to nominate yourself for Student Trustee (not SU Officer), you will need to be a student of the University of Sheffield for the 2021-22 academic year. If you are graduating this year, but intend to do a postgraduate degree in the following academic year, please contact elections@sheffield.ac.uk to discuss this.

Trustees must also agree to abide by the Trustees’ Code of Conduct and the Nolan Principles of public service.

Please read the Eligibility Declarations carefully before nominating yourself. You will be required to sign declaration forms when submitting a nomination for SU Officer or Student Trustee.

Nominations closing Date: Friday 5th March 2021

Start Date: 1st July 2021