Frequently Asked Questions
Find the answers to all those burning questions you've got about the elections...
Why do elections matter?
Our Full-Time Officers and Student MPs have a massive role in deciding the Student Union’s priorities, direction and campaigns, which all have an impact on your experience as a Heriot-Watt student. Elections allow you to have your say on how we tackle issues that matter the most to you, whether that’s by running as a candidate or voting for someone who will represent your views!
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 in our elections. 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 your studies must continue until at least May 2024.
What are Full Time Officers?
Full Time Officers are elected every year in our March elections. Full Time Officers work full-time for a year to improve things and make a difference at Heriot-Watt.
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!
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 – works hard to improve life on campus! This includes working closely with societies and volunteering; campaigning and representing students on issues affecting their lives such as housing and transport as well as leading the work on sustainability.
- 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. They also run activities that will improve student wellbeing.
- 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.
Can I apply for more than one position?
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 prioritize 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.
The main aim is for you to get in front of as many students as possible, and ask them to vote for you. 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.
Our voluntary positions fit around your other commitments. You attend Student Parliament meetings (at least three a year), support the work of the Full-time Officers, 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'll get training before you take up your post and you'll have 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’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 Scottish Borders Campus 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?
These elections are for our Full-tim Officers and Member of Parliament positions.
You’ll need to create your candidate profile by uploading a photo, and your manifesto (there are set questions around 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 Open - Wednesday 1st February, 9am
- Applications Close - Wednesday 22nd February, 11.59pm
- Candidate Briefing & Photos – Friday 24th February, 1pm
- Candidate Profile deadline (election priorities aka Manifesto; slogan; photos) - Wednesday 1st March, 11.59pm
- Voting Opens – Monday 13th March, 7pm
- Voting Closes – Friday 17th March, 12 midday
- Voting Results – Friday 17th March, 7pm
How are votes counted?
You can vote in the Student Union elections during the voting period. Click here to vote.
The Union uses transferable voting. This means you rank your preferences from 1, 2, 3 etc until all your 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.
Can all students vote for the full-time officer positions and Student MP positions?
All students can vote for the Full-Time Officer 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: