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Surrey Decides is our annual Students' Union election where you select the team that will lead the Union next year. 

Our student election is known as Surrey Decides and is the largest democratic event of its kind, when all the Union Officers are elected by a vote that takes place every year.  It is your opportunity to stand out from the crowd and become a student leader, no matter what stage you are in your studies or your previous experiences – any student can take part.   This year, due to the pandemic, we have altered the dates of the election so that it will take place after Easter, when we hope to see an improvement in the situation.  Nominations will open on the 19th of April and close on the 28th.  Elected officers would begin their roles in July 2021.

We are so proud of all the success of our elections over the year, and we have seen students stand as officers and take the lead in their Students’ Union, achieving some amazing things.  You could be a part of Surrey Decides next year and lead the changes you want to see.   

click here to find out what roles you can stand for in the election, and what you would be doing if you won

know someone who would make a good candidate in the election? Click here to send them an anonymous message to let them know

find out what you need to know about being an election candidate

The Roles

The Union is led by a team of 26 Officers, including full-time Sabbatical Officers ('Sabbs' - the 4 VPs and President) and part-time Officers. These Officers work in  four Zones - each one for a different aspect of student life:

  • Voice for students that have something to say. We're the Zone that lead on democracy, student opinion, and ensuring national representation for Surrey students.

  • Activity for getting involved in clubs and societies, and supporting your personal development. We're the Zone that helps support student groups, remove barriers to participation, and create opportunities for students that want to develop themselves.

  • Support for students who are passionate about supporting others, and creating opportunities for other students to support one-another. We're the Zone that covers equality and diversity, support for wellbeing, and operates academic advice at the Union. 

  • Community for bringing students together and finding a home away from home. We're the Zone that organises showcase events, represents students in the local community, and lead on things like volunteering and fundraising. 

Want to find out more about each Zone? Just follow the buttons below:

Support.png Voice Zone button.png

Activity.png Community.png

If you're looking to find out which role may suit you best, take our Which Officer Are You? quiz!

Role Descriptions

The 26 Officers that lead the Union have different roles and responsibilities. If you'd like to find out more about each role that's availible, check out the relevant descriptions below.


Union Chair.pdf


If you're thinking of running, it's worth getting in touch with this year's Officer team.  Our full time team are available and you can book a short meeting with them to help you in making your decision.  Click here to book a short meeting.


Key Dates

  • Nominations open: 19th - 28th April
  • Compulsory Rules Briefing: pre-recorded, available from 28th April
  • Optional Candidate Live Q and A: 4th May 5pm-6pm
  • Manifesto deadline: 5th May 12:00
  • Campaigning: 5th May 12:00 - 15th May 19:00
  • Question Time evenings: 9th - 11th May
  • Voting: 11th May (following Question Time) - 15th May 19:00, results from 20:00

Frequently Asked Questions

Why should I be a candidate?

Whilst there are many reasons why people run for positions in SurreyDecides, below are a few reasons previous students have noted for running:

  • Wanted to improve the student experience
  • Had clear ideas that they wanted to implement on campus
  • Personal experience of issues on campus and a desire to solve them
  • Experience of alternative systems in other Universities
  • Interest in working in Student Unions or politics after graduation
  • Opportunity to talk to, and engage with, more students

One thing that all of these people had in common was determination to change things on campus for the better! 

Am I eligible to be a candidate?

In order to be a candidate in Surrey Decides, you must be a current student at the University. For part-time roles, you must be studying next year; full-time roles can be contested by students at any stage of their degree (including final years). 

  • Full time roles will require you to pause your studies (if applicable) for the following year and do not count as a placement.
  • You can be a candidate whilst on placement.
  • International students can be candidates and the Union can offer support if a role may affect your visa terms.
  • Both undergraduate and postgraduate students (masters and doctoral) are eligible.  

Can I talk to anyone about my manifesto? 

Absolutely - whether you're thinking of running or your nomination's already in, get in touch with the relevant Sabbatical Officer:

How can I get involved?

If you would like to run for a position in Surrey Decides you must ensure your nomination is completed during the nomination period. To do this you must complete a candidate form with your contact details, the role you wish to run for, and the emails of individuals who support your candidacy (5 for Part-time roles and 10 for Sabbatical positions).  

Your proposers will then receive an automated email to confirm that they endorse your candidacy. Each individual can endorse two candidates within Surrey Decides, so long as they are not running for the same position. 

Alternatively, if you want to get involved without running for a position, you can act as one of our student chairs for Question Time by emailing

What do I do if there are problems with my nominators?

If you have any issues with nominations please contact as soon as possible. 

If there is an issue with contacting an individual or IT issues, it is possible to alter your proposers, but you must contact us in order to do so. However, if it exceeds the deadline, you may not be able to run in Surrey Decides.  

What am I expected to do as a Candidate?

Candidates are invited to attend a briefing which outlines the rules of the election process and offers advice on each aspect of this process. There are three main task each candidates are expected to complete:

  • Submit a manifesto and ballot photo by the manifesto deadline
  • Campaign during the campaigning period 
  • Attend each Question Time (optional but strongly recommended)
Please read and understand the candidate rules: election rules guide 2021.pdf

What is a Manifesto?

A manifesto is your opportunity to showcase your main aims to the student body. These typically include 3-4 main aims that you will complete within your year as a Sabbatical officer, and should be primarily relevant to the role you are running for. These points should be achievable, clearly defined, and easy to measure.

The manifesto is also your chance to showcase who you are as an individual to the student population, either through a short bio, design choices, or choice of images. You can include hobbies, sports or societies that endorse your campaign, or evidence of why you are qualified for the role. Each manifesto is unique and individual, but you can check out previous manifestos for inspiration. 

This year all manifestos and other candidate information can be uploaded using a form, the link to the form is in the candidate rules.

What is Question Time?

Question Time is each candidate's opportunity to show why they are the best person for their role during a livestreamed debate alongside fellow candidates for the same position. Each night will consist of various roles taking the spotlight for an hour each (slightly longer for President) within Rubix. 

Question Time is livestreamed by StagTV, including commentary following each debate. StagRadio will also air the audio of the debate followed by a student-led commentary. Each year #SurreyDecides trends in the UK due to the sheer number of students who engage with the event, meaning that it is a key opportunity for any candidate to shine. 

How can I prepare for Question Time?

Candidates will be given advice on preparing for question time at the briefing, but here are some general tips:

  • Know your manifesto well
  • Watch previous Question Time events for ideas of what questions may come up (you can find these on the SurreyUnion YouTube channel)
  • Ask friends to interview you on your campaign points
  • Talk to students and see what issues are most relevant to them

What if I cannot make it to Question Time?

If you cannot make it to Question Time please contact to let us know. We can arrange for you to video call in. We advise all candidates to attend each night, or watch from home via the livestream or Youtube recording. 

Are there limitations on campaigning?

There are limitations on how and when you can campaign during this period. Below is a list of some of the main rules for the campaign period, but we advise all candidates attend the rules briefing to ensure that they fully understand this process.

  • Campaigning can only occur from the time in which the campaigning period opens
  • All promotional material (online only) must be removed or made not public by 6pm on the day of the results
  • There is a no tolerance policy on sabotaging another candidates materials
  • In person campaigning is banned
  • You are not to pressure students into voting for you, nor watch them vote – all votes must be private to avoid coercion.
  • No campaigning whilst working for the University or Student's Union 

What should I do if I believe a rule has been broken?

If you have evidence that a candidate has broken any of the election period rules, or is being needlessly disruptive to students, please contact

Please note that candidates should focus on their own campaigns; repeated unfounded or vexatious complaints against a competitor may affect your own position in the election. 

Nominations Information

The nomination form will be available here from 3rd February 2021. Nominations close on 17th February.

Any questions? Email us at 

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