Everything you need to know about working in, being an officer in or being involved with students' unions.


Students’ union officers are students who are elected into posts and form an officer team, sometimes known as a sabbatical team or executive team, to lead the organisation. They are in post from roughly July for one year, though they may run again to be elected for any of the officer roles.

Officers, as part of the trustee board, set the strategic direction for the organisation and contributing to major decision making for any aspect of the union. Unlike the rest of the board they are present in the organisation on a day today basis so become involved in many aspects of the running of the organisation. As representatives of the members they channel the student voice to ensure that the union is relevant and appropriate in its direction whilst working with the management and staff to ensure delivery follows the set direction.

Officers may be voted on to the officer team generally followed by an arrangement of responsibilities, but it is more usual for officer candidates to be voted into a specific role, with a specific portfolio of responsibility. Teams might vary in size from 2 to 8 depending on the union size, services range and how it sees needs and support being relevant. Again the areas covered vary from union to union but are typically:

  • Equality and diversity
  • Activities – clubs, sports and societies
  • Welfare – safety, health and wellbeing
  • Community – interaction of students with the external community eg. transport and housing
  • Education – anything in academic life, courses, resources
  • Union development/affairs – commercial and service functions
  • International/mature students – supporting this group’s specific needs

There is usually a President of the union, who leads the officer team and often chairs the trustee board. They may also cover one of the roles above or certain constituent parts.

Full time officers are usually paid a salary for their year, with part time officers undertaking their role on a voluntary basis.