As a student-led and democratic group of the Students’ Union, you should hold an Annual General Meeting (AGM) to give your members an opportunity to feedback on how they felt the group was run. As well as this, you are expected to hold elections to elect a new committee for the next academic year. For more information on your committee structure and role descriptions, visit our committee support page.
After elections are held, the current committee should help the new committee by passing over information – this is known as the handover process.
An Annual General Meeting (AGM) is where you and your members can discuss anything, whether it is an idea for a future event, feedback on the year, or a general concern. If you have a Constitution, this is where changes to it can be proposed and voted on, and elections for your next committee can also take place here via a paper election if you do not want to hold an online election (see more information below).
AGM minutes template
Guide to running an AGM
All Principal Officers need to be elected – this varies from group to group but at minimum the President and Treasurer or equivalent (for Student Media Outlets, this is the Managing Editor and Deputy Managing Editor) are classed as Principal Officers and need to be elected. For more information on committee structures visit the committee support page.
You can elect your committee through two ways: Online through the Students’ Union elections process, or in an Annual General Meeting using a paper election (see more information below). Normally elections take place late in Semester 2 or early Semester 3.
Empty positions on your committee? You must always have a President and Treasurer or equivalent (or for Student Media Outlets, a Managing Editor and Deputy Managing Editor) elected on your committee. Should someone resign or is removed from one of these positions, you will need to hold an election as soon as possible.
If you have other vacant roles that you want to hold elections for, get in contact with your relevant staff support for advice.
There are two main parts to an election: a nominations period and a voting period.
Nominations Period: This is when the positions you are electing are open for applications. Members of your group* put themselves forward for a role (known as standing for a role), often with a statement of why they want to run, why they should be elected, and what they’ll do if elected. This is also known as a manifesto.
Voting Period: Once nominations are closed a candidate list is published so you can see who is running for which role. You may decide to hold hustings or a candidate question time, which gives members of your group an opportunity to meet the candidates and see how they compare with one another. Your members then cast a vote, and the person with the most votes gets elected.
*please note that in order to be eligible to run for a role, the member must be a paid member (this does not apply for volunteering groups), and a student during the whole time they are in this position if elected.
How do online elections work?
If you hold elections on the website, it will appear on your group’s webpage. Your relevant staff support will set up the elections for you. Candidates can upload their manifesto on the website, and once voting opens all members can see the full candidate list and cast their votes. Your staff support will then count the elections for you and inform the committee of the results, with the expectation that the committee shares the results with their members.
New for societies 20/21: This year we want to give societies more freedom to hold their elections online, meaning that you can set up your own elections whenever you want online. You will still need to ask the Societies Team to count the election for you, but you have control over everything else. We will be providing more information about this in training and in Semester 2 but if you want to hold any elections in Semester 1 get in touch with the Societies Team on email@example.com.
Benefits of using online elections
We know a lot of groups prefer electing their committee through an AGM, but we would encourage you to switch to an online election. Here are the benefits:
- It does not stop you from holding an AGM if you decide to do this: you can always host one so people can come forward to run for a position and explain why they want to run, but then the voting is moved online. Or you could have voting occur during your AGM.
- It is more accessible for members: it allows more time for members to see the candidate list, read their manifestos, and make an informed decision before they cast their vote.
- It’s easier to verify who are members: When you hold elections, only paid members can participate (not applicable for volunteering groups). If you hold paper elections but do not verify that everyone who voted, this invalidates the votes and you are required to hold another election.
- We use Alternative Transferable Voting, which is a type of proportional voting which takes greater account to people’s preferences in who they want elected. For a full explanation of how this works, you can watch this video.
If you decide that you still want to hold a paper election, you become responsible on ensuring that the elections are held in a fair and transparent way. You can hold paper elections during your AGM, or if you need to elect another role mid-way through the year, you can hold an election through an Extraordinary General Meeting, known as an EGM. Voting takes place during this meeting and the results are counted there and then.
If you are holding a paper election, you will need to inform your relevant staff support that it is happening and send them the minutes of the meeting to confirm that the elections were held and counted for approval.
Paper election rules
If you do not follow these rules, your elections may be deemed invalid and you will be required to hold another election:
- You must inform your members that you are holding elections via AGM/EGM at least 5 days before it goes ahead to give people enough notice.
- Only paid (unless you are a volunteering group) student members can stand and vote in your elections.
- Voting must be anonymous: provide each member with a voting slip and tell them not to write their name on the slips.
- If there is only one candidate running for a position, there must also be an option to vote for ‘Re-Open Nominations’ (RON.). This allows people to pick RON if they do not want that candidate to win.
- A current committee member who is not running in the elections needs to count the election with a second impartial committee member overseeing the count.
- You need to minute the AGM/EGM (you can use the AGM template we have provided here in this page) and send it in to your relevant staff support.
- You should open nominations at least 5 days before the AGM or EGM takes place to give people time to come forward, especially if they can’t attend the meeting themselves to put themselves forward during the meeting.
- You should provide clear information to your members on what positions are available on the committee, how they can stand and when voting will take place.
- You should have the option to pick RON even for positions that have more than one person standing for it.
- Each member should only receive one vote per person per position.
- At least 50% of paid (unless you are a volunteering group) members should be present during the AGM.
The handover process involves a document both the outgoing and incoming committee are required to complete so that the new committee has all the information they need ahead of the new year. This is a requirement for groups to complete so they can maintain their affiliation to the Students’ Union.
This process typically starts in May/June; after all the incoming committees have been elected: your relevant staff support will be getting in touch with you nearer the time to complete this task.