If you’re reading this, then we hope it’s because you’re interested in working with the Union.
And good news… Even if you don’t know much about the Students’ Union, you can still become one. You don’t need loads of experience - just ideas! In the next 15 minutes or so, you’ll become an expert on all things Students' Union, Officers and election process - So have a browse through this online handbook!
More detailed advice and training will be available to candidates once a nomination is submitted.
‘What is a Students’ Union? - That’s a very good question. In short, Brookes Union is a democracy. Which is all well and good, but what does that actually mean? Well, we exist for one reason - To support, represent, inspire and help make your student life better at Brookes. Now you may be thinking this isn’t something directly related to you or that you haven’t associated with us before. But hold that thought, because we're actually part of so many students' lives and often you might not even realise it!
If you’ve attended a Freshers’ Fair, you’ve engaged with the Union. If you’re part of one of our student networks, you’ve engaged with the Union, If you’re part of a society, you’ve engaged with the Union. If you’re one of our student reps, you’ve engaged with the Union. If you’ve spoken to one of our advisors, you’ve engaged with the Union. If you’ve been involved with one of our campaigns, you’ve engaged with the Union. If you’ve responded to one of our surveys, you’ve engaged with the Union.
Even if you haven’t actively done something directly with the Union you have likely benefited from the work of the Students' Union. In fact, we’ve done so much over the years that we've had to put together a wall of wins to keep track of them!
Without Student Officers, Unions wouldn’t exist. Students would have no voice and your time at University would certainly be very different (and we’re not just talking about changes due to the pandemic). You can run for a paid Sabbatical Officer (or Sabb for short) role in the year after you graduate, or by taking a year out of your studies. Or, if you’re studying with us next year, you can run for one of our voluntary Portfolio Officer roles or NUS Delegate positions, which you take on alongside your studies.
In short - They lead the Students' Union and represent 18,000 students (and are paid for it!). They direct what we do in order to support you in every aspect of your University experience - Not only academically, but socially and personally. In other words, they’re a boss! To ensure every aspect is covered, each Sabb role comes with its own responsibilities which you can find out more about in the ‘Available positions’ section.
They are volunteers who give their own time, around their studies, to represent you and focus on key areas of student life that they’re passionate about. They speak up for different parts of the student body and represent students from specific demographics, or with specific interests. Each role comes with its own responsibilities, which you can find out more about in the ‘Available positions’ section.
*There are certain roles which a student may only run for if they self-define into the group which they wish to represent.
Elections happen every year at all Students’ Unions around the country. Why? It gives the student body the opportunity to decide who they want to represent them for the next academic year.
Around this time of year, we run our elections where you or any Brookes Students can stand for a position, run a campaign and try to get elected by a student vote. You can find out more about the process and election timeline in the "Elections Timeline" section of this handbook. In short, elections are a pretty big deal!
Nothing about this academic year has been ordinary, but at Brookes Union, we’re continuing to do everything we can to support you, and our elections are no different - Even during a pandemic!
We understand that you may still be thinking, ‘Why are they still running the Union Elections with everything that’s currently going on?’ Well, it’s that time of year again where we look for a new Officer team and in short - Without Student Officers, Unions’ wouldn’t exist. And what would that mean? Well you’d have no voice, nobody to represent you and so your time at University would be very different, even more so than it is now.
So first and foremost, our priority for this year's elections is ensuring they’re delivered in a safe and covid-secure way, with student safety being our first priority. So how will they work then? The elections will be entirely online with no physical campaigning and so all associated events such as workshops, training, candidate question time and results will be hosted online.
All in all, the elections may feel slightly different to previous years, but we're confident that we can still deliver an exciting, engaging and fair election. And if you’re considering running (good choice), there will be plenty of support available and some great training lined up to help boost your digital skills, in preparation for this online election!
What you’ll get as a Sabbatical Officer:
You’ll not only be the public facing spokesperson for Brookes Union, but the Deputy Chair of the Union’s Board of Trustees, a Director and a University Governor. Now that’s an impressive addition to your CV already right? You’ll be responsible for providing the leadership and direction of the Students’ Union and for working with the University to ensure that students' views are represented at the highest level. You’ll work closely with the Chief Executive, directly overseeing Union activities and operations and take a lead on Union Development.
You’ll be the main liaison between the faculties and the Students' Union, sitting on a wide range of University Committees. You’ll lead on academic matters with the University, champion student voice and represent all things teaching and learning. Having the best academic experience is a top of priority and this role can challenge the University, to make sure students get just that. You will also support the Union’s 400+ academic representatives.
You’ll be leading campaigns and projects to improve student experience relating to welfare: health & wellbeing, equality & diversity and student support services. With over 18,000 students studying at Brookes, this role is vital in ensuring every student is supported. You’ll work closely with both the Brookes Union Advice Service and the University, to ensure there’s adequate welfare provision and support for students. It’ll be your mission to make sure they have access to the support they need for the issues they face.
You’ll lead on all matters relating to active student involvement with the Students’ Union. This role has the unique opportunity to not only support, but collaborate with thousands of students, as you’ll be working closely with our 100+ societies. You’ll encourage student involvement with the Union, volunteering and help support students personal development and employability during their time at Brookes.
You'll be representing black, indiginous, people of color within the Students’ Union. You'll be working closely with societies like ACS, Filipino Society, Latino Society, Malaysian society, to run events and campaigns, celebrating diversity at Brookes, and tackling racism.
You'll be representing black students within the Students’ Union. That could be running campaigns which educate staff and students about discrimination, or supporting national campaigns for black students' representation.
You’ll be campaigning on key issues facing disabled students - whether that’s wheelchair access or better mental health support. You’ll be making sure all the services and support options at Brookes are working for students.
You’ll be leading the Union’s work on environmental matters, ethical issues and sustainability. From promoting Fairtrade Fortnight to campaigning for a coffee cup recycling scheme on campus, you’ll be making sure Brookes leads the way.
You’ll be campaigning on key issues facing International Students. From getting involved with One World Week to working to combat ‘culture shock’, you’ll be making sure international students are supported at Brookes.
You’ll be campaigning on key issues facing LGBTQ+ students. - whether that is focusing on mental health or celebrating LGBT+ History Month. You’ll make sure that all services at Brookes work for LGBT+ students.
You’ll be helping mature students get the support they need. You could be campaigning around timetabling, childcare or pushing for more support services.
You’ll be responsible for supporting Postgraduate Students and ensuring that they are represented.
You'll be responsible for representing the views and interests of students in Brookes' sports teams and clubs.
You’ll be campaigning on key issues for women students - whether that’s access to sanitary provision or campaigning on issues such as consent, fair representation or mental health.
You’ll independently and impartially chair the Unions’ general meetings and Annual General Meeting, seeking to ensure that attendees can understand the proceedings, hold other elected officials to account and engage in Union democracy.
NUS Delegates represent Brookes University students on a national platform. This is a volunteer role to attend a single annual event (the NUS Conference), happening from Tuesday 31st March to Thursday 2nd April.
The experience of being an officer will always be unique to the individual, but also because no other job quite like it exists, but here are just a few reasons why standing may just be the best decision you make:
Sabbatical officers sit at the top of the leadership structure, and are the most senior staff within the students' union. They sit on some of the highest University level meetings representing the student voice and are an integral part of the decision-making process; from contract tenders where Brookes chooses suppliers for catering, buses and accommodation. They have the sort of positional power that would normally take years to accumulate in other sectors.
Any experience of working life is beneficial for graduates, but being a sabbatical officer at a students’ union offers an extremely high-profile position within an organisation. You will gain exposure to all areas of working life, and gain management experience at a fast pace.
And we've got more answers! Below you can find answers to the most common questions we get about elections, although we understand questions might be slightly different this year due to the pandemic! But if you want to know something that isn't answered here, give our Student Voice team an email: firstname.lastname@example.org.
If you are a member of the Students’ Union (you’re automatically one, unless you’ve opted out of course) then you’re eligible, whether you’re an undergrad, postgrad, first, second, third-year, international student, mature student. So in short - Yes, any student can nominate themselves for a role.
The voting system the Union uses is called Single Transferable Vote (STV). Voters are asked to rank the candidates in order of preference. Voters can select candidates they want in the order they want them (1,2,3 etc) and it builds their vote. Once they’re happy they can submit their vote. Voters may express as many or as few preferences as they wish, but cannot mark more than one candidate with the same number.
To win, candidates must poll above 50% of the votes, either by totalling more than half of the first preferences, or reaching 50% after the lowest ranked candidates are eliminated, and the voters preferences are redistributed. There will be more information on the voting system provided in the candidate briefing.
If you successfully become a sabbatical officer, you will be paid £20,130 per year. Part-time roles are unpaid.
Working with the Union as an Officer is one of the best jobs out there - But don’t just take our word for it! Here’s some of what previous Brookes Union officers have said about their experience working with the Union and why you should run!
“During my time as an officer, I gained a wide variety of experience which has helped me to secure a job in Marketing and Events; a role that I have always wanted to do following my graduation in 2017.”
Sharelle Holdsworth | Vice President of Societies Development 17/18
“You should run to be an Officer because you won’t regret it, and you never know, you might even be quite good at it. Fine, people have different reasons for why they run, and an election is an unconventional way of getting your first job, but it’s not only a foot in the door (note: one which pays better than most grad roles) - it’s a lot of fun.”
Josie Bushby | Vice-President: Societies Development 18/19
“To me, my greatest achievement was setting up One World Week with such an amazing team of people. I am so happy that it is still going on and diversity is celebrated.”
Elena Saldana Quintans | Vice President for Societies 15/16 & President 16/17