The Union Leadership Race explained: What it is and why your vote matters

“If anyone actually wants to bring about any change within UCL the best place to be to do that is to run in the leadership race and get a role as a sabbatical officer”

The Leadership Race takes place every year in March, when students vote for representatives who go on to lead UCL clubs, societies and the Students’ Union.

Typically thousands of students are nominated and several thousands of students vote. You can put yourself forward for committee positions for clubs and societies or run for a sabbatical position within the Student Union – “the Leadership Race is open to all”.

The representatives elected in the Leadership race go on to affect real change at UCL, such as the no detriment policies of 2019/20 and 2020/21 and increasing sustainability on campus. Similarly those elected to lead societies through committees directly affect the student experience since they’re responsible for organising socials, events and the general activities of each respective society too. This is why, even if you don’t run yourself, it is important to vote – this way the student body itself directly elects those who represent their interests within the university governance system.

Read on to find out exactly which roles and responsibilities are available in the Race, how long you have to apply, and how to vote.

Full-time Sabbatical Officers

The most important positions to fill are the full-time Sabbatical Officer roles. There are six of these, each with their own specific area of responsibility, in which they represent all the students at UCL. These positions involve a lot of responsibility, but are accompanied with lots of training and support before and during the year in office.

The six positions available are: Activities and Engagement Officer, Education Officer, Postgraduate Officer, Equity Officer, Welfare & Community Officer and Union Affairs Officer. Each has a salary of around £25,000 per year with 27 days holiday and represents a “unique opportunity to build a network of leaders in higher education and beyond” as well as the “chance to make real and lasting change at UCL”.

Nominations for the full-time sabbatical positions are open now but close on March 2nd at 12:00 UK time. If you still want to enter the race it’s not too late since you can enter now and the deadline for a manifesto is not until the 9th March. You can register your candidacy here if you’re interested. For those who have already entered the Race or intend to follow the Race and vote, here is the timeline of events in the sabbatical Leadership Race.

1st February: Nominations open

2nd March: Nominations close

9th March: Manifesto deadline

11th March: Candidates announced

15th March: Voting opens

19th March: Voting closes, winners announced

July: New team of sabbatical officers starts

Part-time Officers

There are also positions as Part-time Officers, who take on this additional responsibility alongside their degree. These positions are unpaid and the responsibilities include attending Activities Zone meetings as well as a host of additional events for approximately 15hours per term.

There are 15 of these roles and they are all supported by a fully programme of training, development and support throughout term to give you “the skills and knowledge required to support longer term personal development.”

The available roles are: Mature & Part-time Students’ Officer, Arts Officer, Officer for Students with Caring Responsibilities, Accommodation & Housing Officer, Trans Officer, Community Relations Officer, Disabled Students’ Officer, LGBQ+ Officer, Societies Officer, Sports Officer, Sustainability Officer, International Student’s Officer, BME Students’ Officer, Women’s Officer, Research Students’ Officer.

The application and election deadlines for these positions are the same as for the full-time sabbatical officers, see above.

Committee positions

To be on the committee of a club or society is a pretty exciting and challenging opportunity. UCL committees get specific dedicated training, union support and access to funding throughout the year. These are unpaid positions, but offer the opportunity to practice, teamwork, leadership skills and communication which can be extremely useful transferable qualities. The deadline for club committee positions is the 9th March at 12:00 UK time.

Comprehensive timeline of all deadlines for nominations and elections:

  • NOW: You can nominate yourself for any position.
  • 2 March 12:00: Nominations close for Sabbatical and Part-time positions.
  • 9 March 12:00: Nominations close for club and society committee positions.
  • 9 March 12:00: Manifesto deadlines for full-time sabbatical positions and part-time officers.
  • 11 March: Candidates announced.
  • 15 – 19 March: Voting is open and all students can vote.
  • May / June: Training starts

If you want to have a say in who represents you next year, look out for the manifesto publications next week and make sure you vote from the 15th to 19th March!