Student Union Sabbatical Elections

Student Union Sabbatical Elections

May 6, 2022 Blog and Vlogs

Sabbatical Officers, also popularly known as Sabb, is a student who is elected as a member of the Student Union and acts as a student’s representative. The Education Act makes it a legal requirement for every university to have a full-time Sabbatical officer. Any student can contest for the position.

Since the role of a Sabbatical Officer is a one-year (or maybe less, depending upon the university) full time job, students can take a break from their studies for a year or stand for the elections in the academic year in which they complete their course. Students can stand for a second term but varies across different student’s union.

Sabbatical officers perform diverse roles by successfully liaising between the student’s body and the University board. They represent the interest of the students to the university board.

Some of the key responsibilities of a Sabbatical Officer includes:

  • To be ‘true representative’ of the students – by conducting regular student meetings and by being aware of their concerns and requirements and addressing the same.
  • To attend strategic and management level University meetings to present an overview of the student’s perspectives on various issues, and ensure that student’s voice is heard, especially at the highest levels and necessary changes are implemented.
  • To assist the Executive Team to take high level strategic decisions on behalf of the student body.
  • To attend all General Meetings and regularly provide updates to students using both online and offline communication methods.
  • To successfully develop relationships and networks with various internal and external university stakeholders and identify best professional practice for implementation.
  • To ensure that university is following government and other local laws.
  • To actively engage in all student initiatives and provide necessary support to enhance the overall student experience. 

Why International Students Should Contest Student Union Sabbatical Elections

International students holding Tier-4 visa/Student visa are actively encouraged to contest the Student Union elections.

  • As a Sabbatical Officer, they are offered the opportunity to not only experience true multiculturalism through interactions with students from all over the world, but they also get a chance to adapt to the culture and lifestyle in the UK. Universities in the UK are melting pot of world cultures and offers a chance to become a global citizen in the truest sense of the term.
  • Apart from academics, students also get the opportunity to brighten their employment opportunities. Employers are more likely to hire graduates for full-time employment who have a considerable amount of work experience in the UK and are acquainted with the local work culture. Working in a cosmopolitan work environment also helps to develop interpersonal, public speaking and communication skills.
  • You will also be able to earn while you are an officer as this will most likely be paid.
  • You get to enjoy university life little bit longer.

How to Contest the Student Union Elections

All students are eligible to contest the elections. Application forms and related documents must be submitted to contest for the same. It should be noted acceptance of the application forms are the sole discretion of the authority and maybe rejected if it does not meet the visa requirements or there are not enough supporting documents.

Visa Requirements to Contest for Student Elections

International students holding Student Visa or Tier 4 visa can undertake a full-time sabbatical officer post. If they have current student visa, they can start working as a sabbatical officer and when and if required apply to extend their visa either to complete their studies or stand in the second year of election.

You can do the post part way through your course or in the academic year after you finish it.

However, if an international student, current immigration permission expires before his/her term as the sabbatical officer ends, then student application for visa extension must be made before expiry. International students who have completed their academic course and their student visa expires before the elections will most likely be not able to become a Sabbatical Officer, hence it is vital you plan this in advance.

The endorsement on your biometric residence permit (BRP) or digital status will be the same as other Student endorsements. This means that it will not state on it that you are now a sabbatical officer and it will state that you are restricted to working 20 hours a week in term time. However, you can work full time as a sabbatical officer with this endorsement.

If Elected, Can Sabbatical Officers work?

Apart from being a paid full-time role, international students are permitted to engage in part-time employment up to 20 hrs. a week thereby offering financial independence. In most cases, elected officers are also paid by the Students Union and considered full time employment. Usually this ranges between £17k to£21k depending on university and location within the UK.

Benefits of being an elected member of the union

To serve as a Sabbatical Officer can surely be a life enhancing experience. Undoubtedly a challenging role, but it brings with it a host of opportunities. It gives a huge boost to your CV, increasing your employability quotient. Active collaboration with higher management and students body helps develop leadership, teamwork, project management and implementation skills along with expertise in research, professionalism, communication and public speaking skills, to name a few.  


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