Frequently Asked Questions

Find the answers to all those burning questions you've got about the elections...

How do I put myself forward for an election?

Simply login to our website and go here. Click Stand and follow the instructions for the position you want to apply for.

You will get an email  to let you know we’ve got your application, and we’ll give you some more information about what to do next.

What posts are you electing?

There are a variety of posts open, from full-time paid Officer positions  to part-time voluntary positions that will fit around your studies. You can see all the positions here.

Who can run in the election?

Any currently matriculated Heriot-Watt University Student can run to be a Full-Time Officer. As long as you are a current student, anyone from a first-year Undergraduate Student to a Postgraduate Research Student in their final year can run!

If you are running for a Member of Parliament position then you must have at least one year left of studying.

What are Full Time Officers?

Full Time Officers work full-time for a year to improve things at Heriot-Watt. To be an officer you have to be a current Heriot-Watt student,in the middle of your studies or about to graduate. Did we mention it’s a paid role??

Each Full Time Officer covers a specific area:

  • President –  improves the student experience and represents the views of Heriot Watt students to the University. They make sure students are at the heart of everything the University does as they sit on University Court, and loads of other committees. They also lead on Postgraduate Representation.
  • Vice President Community –  campaigns and represents students on issues affecting their lives such as housing and transport as well as leading the work on sustainability. They also work closely with student activities like societies and volunteering.
  • Vice President Wellbeing –  the first point of contact for student Equality and Diversity issues and liberation campaigns. They run the Student Wellbeing Group and work closely with the students that attend it to advocate for positive change in issues facing students identifying as LGBT+, Women, International, Black Asian and Minority Ethnic, and Disabled.
  • Vice President Education – covers all aspects of education and academic representation for undergraduate students across UK campuses, to improve the learning and teaching experience.

For more information on the roles, click here.

What do Full Time Officers do?

Full Time Officers are responsible for looking after Heriot-Watt students, asking students for their feedback and making the student experience the best it can be while you’re at University. They lead the direction of the Union and push for positive change!

For more information on the roles, click here.


You can only apply for one Union position at a time! In the Autumn elections you can apply for one Union position plus any number of NUS delegate positions.

What would I have to do as a candidate?

The main thing you need to do is get students to vote for you! To do this, you’ll need to make sure students know why you’re running, why you’re right for the role and what you would do if you were elected. You will need to be prepared to reach out and talk to students about why you would be a good representative.

You will also need to attend a candidate briefing, where you’ll be given more information on the elections and their rules. If you’re applying to be a Full-Time Officer you’ll also need to come along to Candidate Question Time!

Because of COVID, there won’t be many opportunities to campaign in person. This means a lot of your campaigning will need to be online. Now is the time to use your networks with other students – think societies, sports clubs, classmates, other students in your school/year.

What would I have to do if I was elected?

If you’re elected as a Full Time Officer you will work full time for the Union from June 1st – May 31st.

The other voluntary positions fit around your other commitments. You attend Student Parliament meetings (at least three a year) and decide what you want to work on during the year. You could be elected to change one specific thing about student life, or you might be more interested in getting involved in national campaigning. It really is up to you.

You will receive training before you take up your post and support from experienced Union staff throughout your year.

I don’t want to run in a University-wide election. Is there another way I can get involved?

If you want to become a Full-Time Officer then your only option is to run in the election, because it’s really important students get to choose who will represent them. If you want to run but you’re anxious about the election then get in touch with Genna to see if there’s anything we can do to help. Remember there’s heaps of training to help you run a great campaign!

If you’re interested in the Member of Parliament positions, there are five positions on Parliament that are elected within smaller groups – the Student Life MP, the Societies MP, the SBC Group MP and two Wellbeing MPs. This process might feel a little less daunting, and they're great roles if you know you’d like to be involved in those areas!

What is the election process?

Applications are NOW OPEN for our Full Time Officer and Voluntary Positions.

You’ll need to create your candidate profile by uploading a photo, and your manifesto (why you’d be good for the role, and what you would do if you were elected). You then campaign to get students to vote for you!

Here are the other important election dates:

  • Applications close - Monday 15th February, 5pm
  • Candidate Briefing – Friday 19th February, 2pm
  • Candidate Profile deadline (election priorities, slogan, photos) - Wednesday 24th February, 5pm
  • Candidate Question Time (Full Time Officer positions only) - Monday 8th March, 5-7pm
  • Voting Opens – Monday 8th March, 7pm
  • Voting Closes – Thursday 11th March, 5pm
  • Voting Results – Friday 12th March

Will Covid affect the elections?

Covid won’t get in the way of democracy! Of course, you’ll need to adapt how you get your message out to students, but we’ll make sure there’s training and support to help you every step of the way!

How does the Union count the election?

The Union uses transferable voting, this means that students rank their preferences from 1, 2, 3 etc until their options are exhausted.

Alternative Transferable Voting (ATV) is used for single place positions and Single transferable Voting (STV) is used for multiple place elections.

For more information about how the votes are counted, watch this handy video.

How does voting work?

You can vote in the Student Union elections from 7pm on Monday 8th March until 5pm on Thursday 11th March. Click here to vote.

The Union uses transferable voting. This means you rank your preferences from 1, 2 etc until all your options are exhausted.

For more information about how the votes are counted, watch this handy video.

All students can vote for the Full-Time Officer positions and Student MP positions?

 You can only vote for candidates which represent your school for School MP. If you’re a member of the Sports Union, you can also vote for Sports Union President, Sports Union VP and Sports Union Executive.

What is a Deputy Returning Officer and how do I contact them?

The Deputy Returning Officer (DRO) is oversees and coordinates the elections for the Student Union and Sports Union. There are rules set out in Section 5 of our Bye Laws which you can read here.

The current DRO is Genna, the Student Engagement Manager, and you can contact her here.

The National Union of Students (NUS) has oversight of the process and will be involved in appeals and decisions relating to candidate expulsion. If you need to make a complaint, please see our how to make a complaint section.

What rules apply in the elections?

On top of our election rules that all students need to stick to, you must also follow the:

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