FAQs

Here is a list of frequently asked questions.  Please read this list before contacting us at surreydecides@surrey.ac.uk with your question, as you may find the answer below. 

I am interested in running in Surrey Decides, where can I find out more about the available roles? 

Find out about all our available roles here www.ussu.co.uk/surreydecides, and find out about your current officers and their typical activities here.

Am I eligible to run in Surrey Decides?  

If you are currently a registered student studying for a University of Surrey award, you can run for election.  If you are a foundation year student or a study group student currently studying for a pre-entry course in order to begin your undergraduates studies, then you are unfortunately not eligible to run in the election.   

If you are in your final year of study at Surrey, you can run in the election for a full time paid (sabbatical) position only, and take this up when you have graduated. 

Any student can run for a full time (sabbatical) officer position and take a year away from their studies to fulfil the role.  A full time sabbatical officer position cannot be used as a placement year. 

Any continuing student (still studying next year or going onto placement) can run for a voluntary role in Surrey Decides and do this alongside their studies or work next year. 

I will be going on placement next year, can I still run in Surrey Decides? 

Yes it is possible for students who are going into their placement year to run in Surrey Decides, however if you will be working full time on placement, you should run for a voluntary position (zone member role).  Full time officer roles do not qualify as placements under the University regulations. 

How do I nominate myself for Surrey Decides? 

Nominations for the election will open on the 7th of February in the morning, and close on the 16th of February at 17:00.  If you are running for a full time (sabbatical) role, you will need 15 students to support your nomination, and if you’re running for a part time role you will need 10.  We recommend having the names of your supporters ready to input when you fill in the nomination form.  Your supporters will receive an email from us asking them to approve your nomination.  They will need to do this by 17:00 on the 16th of February to make you a valid election candidate. 

What aspects of the election are compulsory for candidates? 

  • All candidates must submit a valid nomination form which is approved by contacts that you have selected. 
  • All candidates must attend the rules briefing or watch this online. 
  • All candidates must complete the declaration to say that they have understood the election rules in the briefing. 
  • All candidates must submit a budget form even if no money was spent 
  • Remove all campaign materials from the campus before the election count can take place 
  • All candidates must abide by the rules of the election. 

What aspects of the election are recommended for candidates? 

We recommend that you: 

  • Contact the existing officers currently doing the role you are running for, as this will help you understand more about what is involved 
  • Attend relevant Union meetings that are open to you (check website events) 
  • Submit a manifesto, ballot photo and ballot name by the deadline
  • Campaign for votes (please remind yourself of the rules around campaigning) 
  • Attend the informal candidate training (the briefing session is compulsory) 
  • Read information about the election that we will send to you  
  • Attend Question Time to tell everyone why they should vote for you 
  • Contact clubs and societies to ask them to support your campaign and to complete a support form for you to make this official 
  • Regularly check student email and Microsoft Teams for Surrey Decides information 

What training is available to candidates? 

  • There is a compulsory briefing which takes place on the 17th of February at 6pm (location tbc) and will also be viewable online after the briefing.  All candidates are required to submit a form to say that they understand the rules. 
  • There is an informal training on Saturday the 19th of February in 01DK03 where you will be able to network with other candidates, discuss your ideas and be supported in preparing for Question Time. 

What can I expect from the Union team in terms of help and support? 

  • You can contact us at surreydecides@surrey.ac.uk with your questions and we will respond as soon as we can. 
  • Union officers and staff are available to meet with you to discuss your ideas and to share information with you about what it’s like to be an officer in the Union. 
  • We will provide a candidate briefing (compulsory) and training (optional) 
  • You will have access to training materials and templates for your manifesto  
  • We will be in regular contact over the election period with anything you need to know 

What is campaigning and when can it start? 

  • Campaigning is allowed from 12:00 on Monday the 21st February 
  • Campaigning means actively asking people to vote for you in the election, either via online routes or in-person. 
  • You are allowed to put up posters and banners in some areas of the campus – please check the election rules for more information 
  • You are not allowed to use stickers as these are difficult to remove 
  • You should avoid littering the campus 
  • Door knocking on residences (flat entrances, corridors and rooms) is not allowed. 

Where can I find the election rules? 

You can find the rules for the election here.

What is a manifesto? 

  • A manifesto is a document where you set out what you aim to achieve if students vote for you. 
  • You should think carefully about what to put in your manifesto because if you win the election you will be mandated to carry out these aims – it is advisable to speak to existing officers and staff in the Union about your manifesto as this can help you formulate and develop your plans. 
  • Your manifesto should be clearly laid out in landscape format, easy to read, and contain a mixture of pictures and text. 

How do I make my manifesto? 

  • We will provide you with a template to help you make your manifesto
  • You should consider researching the aims you want to put on your manifesto – it is wise to consider whether they are ‘SMART’ objectives i.e are they specific, measurable, achievable, realistic and timebound.  This will help you include relevant goals. 
  • Existing officers and staff are available to answer any manifesto questions. 
  • Your manifesto should be eye catching, easy to read (don’t make your font too small) and should include a photo of you, and information about how to vote. 

Where do I submit my manifesto? 

We have provided candidates with a form to submit their manifesto this is due by 12:00 on the 21st February.  Late submissions are not accepted unless with agreement of the independent returning officer. 

Where do I submit my ballot photo? 

We have provided candidates with a form to submit their photo this photo will appear on the voting website where students can vote for you.  Late submissions are not accepted unless with agreement of the independent returning officer. 

What is a ballot name and where is it submitted? 

We have provided candidates with a form to submit their ballot name this is the name that will appear on the ballot when students vote, so if you are going to give your campaign a name e.g. ‘vote for super simon’ it may be logical to use ‘super simon’ as your ballot name. 

When can I begin campaigning? 

Campaigning can begin at 12:00 on the 21st of February and finishes at the close of voting at 19:00 on the 5th of March.  All campaign materials must be removed from the campus before the count or votes cannot be counted. 

Am I allowed to tell friends I am running for election before campaigning starts? 

You are not allowed to actively campaign for votes before campaigning begins.  However, you can organize for your campaign e.g. get your campaign materials ready to put up, get friends involved to help you do this.  It’s key that you are not advertising your election campaign either in-person or online before the campaigning period begins, at 12:00 on the 21st of February.  Please refer to the election rules for more information and ask us at surreydecides@surrey.ac.uk if you have any concerns. 

Can I put posters or banners up on campus? 

Please refer to the election rules

Can I campaign in my lectures or tutorials? 

This is at the discretion of your course leaders/lecturers, and can only happen with their permission.  Your campaign should not interfere with the academic activities of the University. 

Can I contact clubs and societies about my campaign? 

It’s good campaign practice to get clubs and societies to support your campaign, as you can include this on your manifesto, posters and campaign information.  There is a form which clubs and societies can use to confirm their support of you, and we advise that they do this in order to make this support official.  However, we do not investigate whether or not a society or club is officially supporting you unless someone complains – this triggers an investigation and we will check the forms.  If no form exists, this could result in an election sanction against you and you will be asked to edit your campaign materials.   

How much money can I spend on my campaign? 

Candidates’ campaign costs cannot exceed £70 for a full-time Officer, £45 for the role of Union Chair, and £35 for all other part-time Officer roles.  This includes the total value of any materials you may have received for free – e.g. if someone gives you a pack of ten white t-shirts to decorate for your campaign, you should assign these a sensible value on your budget form.  The full amount you have spent can be claimed back from the Students’ Union.  Candidates must supply receipts in order to prove their spending and claim campaign expenses.  Please ensure that you have scanned or photographed all your receipts for electronic submission, remember that if you cannot provide a receipt for something on your budget form that you have spent, you cannot be reimbursed for it, and it may lead to problems with your budget submission. 

Budget forms and receipts must be submitted via this form by 7pm on Friday the 4th of March.  Candidates who are late risk being removed from the election count.  Forms must be returned even if nothing was spent on the campaign.  Supplying fraudulent financial information is a serious offence that could result in your disqualification from the election. 

When and where is Question Time taking place? 

Question Time takes place from 7pm onwards on Sunday 27th February, Monday 28th February and Tuesday 1st March.  Question Time will take place at (venue tbc).  We advise all candidates to attend Question Time, and you can indicate on the candidate submission form whether you will attend and whether you have any access requirements.   

What will I be asked at Question Time and how can I prepare for this? 

Question Time is not a compulsory event, but we advise that you participate if you want to be elected.  It is your opportunity to tell the audience watching in person and online why they should vote for you.  You should prepare by making sure you know what it says on your manifesto and the manifesto/s of the people running against you.  You should think about why you want to win and what personal qualities you would bring to the role.  We advise you to attend our informal candidate training on February 19th as this will include Question Time training. 

What happens if I break the election rules? 

We have an independent Returning Officer, who is CEO at another Students’ Union.  The Returning Officer is a volunteer who makes rulings on the election, and this role needs to be independent as no member of Students’ Union staff can make a decision which could affect the election outcome.  If there is an issue around a candidate allegedly breaking the rules, we contact the Returning Officer for her decision.   

If the Returning Officer finds that you have broken the election rules, the Returning Officer can give you a ‘strike’.  Students’ Union elections traditionally operates a ‘three strike’ approach, meaning that anyone receiving three strikes is removed from the election and can no longer be a candidate.  The Returning Officer can also remove someone from the election if their offence is particularly severe, regardless of how many strikes have been given.  Please note that this is incredibly rare and would only happen in extreme circumstances, candidates who make an effort to follow the election rules should not be affected.  There is an appeals process for anyone who is removed from the election – you can find out more by viewing part three of the ‘Byelaws’

What do I do if I know that someone else has broken the election rules? 

Any suspected rule break should be reported to surreydecides@surrey.ac.uk 

Please do not contact existing officers or staff to report rule breaks, only use the official elections email address. 

When and how can people vote in the election? 

Voting is online and will open after the final debate of Question Time on the 1st of March (late in the evening) and remains open until 19:00 on Saturday the 5th of March.  Voting is done by ‘single transferable vote’ (STV).  This means that students rank their candidates in order of preference for each election, putting a 1 next to their first choice and a 2 next to their second choice etc.  For a video explaining the STV process click here Example STV election – YouTube 

When and where are the results of the election announced? 

Results are announced in-person and broadcast live at (put location) from 20:00 on the 5th of March. 

If I win in the election what happens next? 

If you are one of our winners, you will be contacted by the Students’ Union after the election with an explanation of when you will start your role, including when you will receive induction training.  Please look out for emails from the Union in your student email.