3rd January 2020

All about the Sheffield SU Officer Elections 2020

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 other roles are available?
  4. How do I put myself forward for a role?
  5. How does the election work?
  6. What are the benefits of standing for election?
  7. What support will I have if I stand?
  8. What happens if I'm elected?
  9. Appendix
Candidate Posters

Have your say!

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.

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.

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.

What do the SU Officer team do?

Each year, eight Student Officers are chosen by the whole student population to work full time in the SU for the year. They will have just graduated, or will be taking a year out of their studies to complete the role. They keep in touch with your views and 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.

Full job descriptions for all of the roles are available at sheffieldsu.com/elections, but below we have summarised the remit of each role below.


Team Leadership | Communication | Direction

The figurehead of your Students' Union. Leads and oversees the work of your Student Officer Team. Ensures the Students' Union is valued by its members as an effective, responsive and accountable organisation. Chairs the Trustee Board, Student Executive Committee and Staffing Committee. Also sits on University Council and Senate as well as a number of other University committees.

Role Description and Pay

SU Development Officer

Sustainability | Social Enterprise | Innovation

Represents students' commercial interests and oversees budgets and expenditure. Ensures Students' Union services are relevant and responsive to Student needs. Has key oversight over the Students' Union's commercial activity and communications. Chairs the Students' Union's Finance Committee. Sits on University Finance Committee, Senate Budget Committee and University Council. Is the student-lead for sustainability, ensuring our practices are environmentally sustainable whilst consulting with the University on their strategy, operations and investments.

Role Description and Pay

Education Officer

Academic Reps | Learning | University Collaboration

Responsible for all educational matters affecting students, undergraduate and postgraduate. Co-ordinates and supports democracy and student representation within the University, and works with the Academic Representative Committee to campaign on, and keep students informed of, academic issues. Sits on many University committees including University Senate and Learning & Teaching Committee.

Role Description and Pay

Welfare Officer

Wellbeing | Welfare Services | Community

Provides support, representation and raises awareness of student health, finance, housing & safety issues. Works closely with the Student Advice Centre to ensure relevant and effective advice is available to students. Works with the University to ensure adequate welfare provision and support for students.

Role Description and Pay

Women's Officer

Women's Rights | Rep Committees | Equality

Represents the views and interests of all women students within the Students' Union and University as well as at a national level and creates a student environment free from sexism and discrimination. Works with the Women's Committee to lead campaigns on the issues of women's rights and equality.

Role Description and Pay

International Officer

Integration | National Societies | Globalisation

Supports and represents the University's international student population. Works to support and facilitate the integration of home and international students at Sheffield. Sits on key University committees relating to international students and internationalisation. Only international students can stand to be the International Students' Officer, but all students can vote in the election.

Role Description and Pay

Sports Officer

Sport Sheffield | Healthy Living | Involvement

Ensures the provision of sports opportunities and clubs for students. Acts as the advocate of students engaged in sport at all levels. Works to increase the number of students taking part in sport. Sits on the Sport Sheffield Board and has key relationships with University staff responsible for the provision of sports facilities and opportunities.

Role Description and Pay

Activities Officer

Societies | Opportunities | Volunteering

Oversees the provision of student activities and the Students' Union's societies. Works to increase the number of students engaged in societies, activities and volunteering projects. Works with the University to ensure recognition of the contribution students make through activities and the importance of societies and volunteering as part of the student experience at Sheffield.

Role Description and Pay
Candidate campaigning

Campaign on the concourse

What other roles are available?

Elected Student Trustee

Student Trustees represent all the students on the Students' Union Trustee Board, which oversees the financial, strategic and long term sustainability of our SU.

There are two Student Trustee positions available, and any University of Sheffield student can run.

NUS Liberation Conference Delegate

The National Union of Students represents 7 million students across the UK. Sheffield Delegates will be representing Sheffield students from typically underrepresented groups on a national platform, setting policies and holding NUS leaders to account. The delegate positions available for this conference are:

  • 1 Black space
  • 1 Trans space
  • 1 LGBT+ space
  • 1 Disabled space
  • 1 Woman space
  • 1 Black woman space

(You may only stand or vote in these elections if you self define in to the relevant group.)


Referenda (or referendums) are votes of all students on a particular issue at the Students' Union, such as whether we remain affiliated to the National Union of Students. All students and student groups are free to campaign for or against a Referendum proposal. Voting for Referenda takes place alongside voting for Officer, Student Trustee, and NUS Delegate positions.

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 21st February 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.
  • The only exceptions are the International Students’ Officer post – only international students can stand (EU or overseas), and the Women’s Officer – only self defining women can stand. (anyone who identifies as a woman regardless of gender assigned at birth.)
  • 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 18th June 2020 to July 2021, 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 2020 is as follows, so write these dates down in your diary!

Publication of Notice Monday 2nd December 2019
Nominations Open Monday 6th January 2020
Nominations Close Friday 21st February 2020
Candidate Training and Support Monday 24th February – Sunday 1st March 2020
Candidates Announced and Campaigning Begins Monday 2nd March 2020
Online only campaigning Saturday 7th March 2020
Candidates Rest Day Sunday 8th March 2020 (all day)
Voting Opens Monday 9th March 2020
Voting Closes Wednesday 11th March 2020
Results Announced Thursday 12th March 2020

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 10th February - Friday 28th February)
Attend candidate training day (Sunday 23rd February)
Submit your campaign poster (Monday 24th February 5pm)
Submit your campaign banner and video (by 5pm Friday 28th February)

Publication of Notice: Monday 2nd December 2019

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

Nominations: 10am Monday 6th January - 5pm Friday 21st February 2020

Nominations are open from 10am on Monday 6th January and 5pm on Friday 21st February. 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: w/c Monday 24th February 2020

During the week beginning Monday 24th February, 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 2nd March 2020

From 10am on Monday 2nd 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 one day of online only campaigning on Saturday 7th March. During this time you can campaign online, but not physically (i.e. speaking to voters on campus, putting up posters and flyering)
  • There is then a candidate rest day on Sunday 8th March. On this day, from midnight until 11.59pm, candidates cannot campaign. Use this day to rest and recuperate and get ready for voting to open on Monday.

Voting: 10am Monday 9th March - Wednesday 11th March

Voting (or “polling”) in the elections is conducted online, and voting will open at 10am on Monday 9th March, and will remain open until 5pm on Wednesday 11th 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 12th March 2020

On the day following the close of voting, the final results will be announced at a results party in Foundry in the Students’ Union from 7pm. Candidates bring along friends and campaign teams to celebrate all of their hard work.

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.

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.

This year Forge debates will be held on Tuesday 3rd & Wednesday 4th March.

Forge will come along to the candidate training day on Sunday 23rd February, so you'll have a chance to get to know who they are and how you can work with them during the campaign.

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.

Forge TV coordinating debates

Candidate Timeline

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.

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

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

Meet the SU Officer team in an informal space, drop in any time between 11am and 1pm to ask questions about the elections or the role.

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

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.

(back up) Compulsory training for all candidates on everything you need as a candidate: rules briefing, core campaigning skills.

Space to work on your campaign banner, tea & coffee and a chat with Beren Maddison about actively taking care of your own welfare during the elections period.

A chance to meet the outgoing Officer team, hear their top tips, and learn a little more about the day to day role and responsibilities of being an SU Officer.

Our very own Sheffield Debating will be delivering some top tips on taking part in debating. Use this space to practice informally in advance of Forge Debates taking place this week.

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 - of £40 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 and NUS Delegate 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 18th June 2020 to July 2021, working to make student life in Sheffield as brilliant, liberated and rewarding as possible. Once in the job, with support from staff, you’d turn your manifesto into a set of objectives, coordinating with your Officer team mates.

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 People Development 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 People Development 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 £19,730 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 calling in, emailing advice@sheffield.ac.uk or calling 0114 222 8660.


Your start date would be Thursday 18th June 2020. 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
Come in for a chat: Student Groups Support Office, Level 3 of the SU, next to Coffee Revolution
Phone: Sarah Pugh on 0114 222 8535.

Candidate being interviewed

Candidate Interviews

Candidate being interviewed

Live debates

Forge TV coordinating debates

Forge TV


Trustee Information Pack
February 2020

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 2020-21 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 21st February 2020

Start Date: 1st July 2020