What is an election?
A simple definition of an election is ‘The choosing of a person for a position of any kind, usually through a voting process by a number of voters.’
What is the Heriot-Watt Student Elections?
If you are a first-year student at Heriot-Watt (like me), you may have no idea what the Student Elections are, and what processes are involved. If this is you, then please consider giving this article a read as I have tried to break it down for you.
The Heriot-Watt Student Elections are annually run elections which take place in March. Our elections are for our Full Time Officers and Member of Parliament positions. These elections are run by us, The Student Union, and have been running since 1966. During 60 years of elections, many changes have been made to improve our student union as well as the student union experience for our students.
If you are already interested in applying for either position, then that is great! To apply you will need to create your candidate profile. Start by uploading a photo along with your manifesto (these are a set of questions that all candidates complete as to why they think they would be good for the role and what they would look to do if they were successfully elected). Once this is complete, get out there and start campaigning for students votes!
However, if you are unsure about putting yourself forward as a candidate yet, please read on, as this article contains many useful insights and benefits to becoming an FTO or Member of Parliament
Who can run in these elections?
These elections are open to anyone who is currently enrolled at Heriot-Watt University. Whether you are an Undergraduate Student, still settling in to your first year at Heriot-Watt or a Postgraduate Student in their final year with us, you can run as a candidate during our elections!
How can I cast my vote and why does it matter?
For those who are not standing as a candidate during these elections, your role in the process is still crucial. Every candidate will be eager to secure your vote, as every vote matters. Voting Week will run from Monday the 11th of March at 8am till Friday the 15th of March at 3pm. We strongly encourage every student to cast their vote during the elections as you are voting for who you want to carry our Student Union forward for an entire year.
There are two ways in which you can cast your vote.
Firstly, you can cast your vote online! It is quick, it is super easy to navigate, and you can vote from the comfort of your bed. It really is that easy! Click here to learn how to cast your vote online https://www.hwunion.com/elections/how-to/vote/
Secondly, we hope to bring students a physical polling station which will hopefully be available during voting week, which will be available to all students. If the polling station goes ahead, a member of staff will be on-hand to help students with the voting process for any students who are struggling to vote online or would rather vote in person. Further details about the location and timings of the physical polling station are to come, so keep your eyes peeled!
What do Full-Time Officers Do?
Full Time Officers are elected in March during our Student Elections and work full-time for a year. The overriding goal of a Full Time Officer is to make improvements and make a difference at Heriot-Watt. A Full Time Officer is your Student Voice.
A Full Time Officer has a great deal of power within the Student Union as they help determine the future direction for the Student Union for that year. Any issues that go through parliament, whether that be an issue that can be resolved easily, or an issue that requires more action, the Full Time Officers get to have their say during these discussions.
There are four Full Time Officer positions available, each with their own 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 Academic?– 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.
Why should someone look to become a Full-Time Officer?
If you have made it this far and are still unsure whether to stand as a candidate during the student elections, then why not hear from the pro! Scott has been a Full Time Officer for 2 years and has kindly shared a bit about his experience.
Has it changed your career path?
“Yes and no, the great thing about the Full-Time Officer roles is the vast experience that you can gain, which can really-fast track your career if you give it your all. I was also actively involved in the student union and wider student movement before I ran to be vice-president (first year) and was inspired by the positive impact I could make in the job. This, combined with not knowing what came next, offered a great opportunity to help students enjoy their time here - while simultaneously broadening my skillset.” – Scott (Student Union President)
What have you enjoyed most during your time as an FTO?
The thing I've loved most about being in these roles is taking on student feedback and turning that into tangible action. A good example being the Cost-of-Living crisis that first hit students hard in 2022, exacerbating an already long-standing issue for students. I am extremely proud of the support mechanisms we put in place, grew or improved and how quickly we did so. - Scott (Student Union President)
What skills have you learned or developed during your time as an FTO?
As said before, it is hard to summarise the experiences that you can gain in these roles when you are exposed to so many environments. But if I had to name a few it would be:
a) Stakeholder Management - As a full-time officer, you are often the bridge between Students and the University. You have to amplify the voices of students, raising issues as well as success stories to the University Executive. You also have to do the reverse - close the feedback loop to students and explain University decisions.
b) Leadership Skills - Specifically as the President, you are charged with leading the team of the vice-presidents and supporting them in the projects, campaigns and initiatives they want to put in place. To do this, I had access to a plethora of leadership training, mentorships and PDRs to empower me to do so. - Scott (Student Union President)
Important Dates for the upcoming elections
Nominations Open – Wednesday, 31st of January
Nominations Close – Wednesday, 21st of February
Announcement of Candidates – Thursday, 8th of March
Voting Week Opens – Monday, 11th of March at 8am
Voting Week Closes – Friday, 15th of March at 3pm
Election Results – Friday, 15th of March at 6pm
Any Further Questions?
If you have any further questions about the upcoming elections in March, please reach out to our Representation and Democracy Coordinator, Heather, who will be happy to answer any questions you may have. Heather can be contacted here: H.Innes@hw.ac.uk