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Democracy at the Students' Union

25 Aug 2021

How our Students' Union is structured

The University of Manchester Students’ Union is a charity, independent from the University, that exists with one mission: to be the voice of students at Manchester, effecting change and enriching student life together.

The Union is run by students for students and they have democratic structures in place to facilitate this. Find out what their democratic structures look like this year, and how to get students involved.

Democracy review

Throughout the summer, a review of democratic processes has been carried out, looking at how they can be improved based on student feedback. They're looking to change the structure of the Exec Team, the Part-Time Officer team and the SU's decision-making processes. This review will result in some proposals being put to a referendum in October, with the new Exec Team structure being elected in March and the new structures being put in place for September 2022. This means that this academic year the democratic processes will stay largely the same as in previous years. What this looks like is outlined below.

Exec Team

The Exec Team consists of eight roles, elected from the student body by a cross-campus ballot, to work full-time representing students' interests. They work with the University, the student body and local government, sitting on a range of University and local council boards, as well as engaging in a range of other activity such as planning events and campaigns. The Exec Team are:

Part-Time Officer Elections

The 38 Part-Time Officer roles exist to platform students, making sure that every section of the student body has an equal opportunity, in presence and voice, to affect decisions.

  • Liberation - PTOs represent minoritised students such as LGBT+ or BME students
  • Access - PTOs represent 'non-traditional' students such as mature students or student parents
  • Community - PTOs represent students living in particular areas of Manchester such as Rusholme
  • Faculty - PTOs represent students in that particular faculty

PTO elections will take place in October - watch this space for more information.

Senate Committees

Senate Committees exist to discuss issues within their remit, create policy proposals and kickstart campaigns. There are six active Senate Committees, each chaired by a member of the Exec Team who is responsible for organising them. Senate Committee remits range from liberation campaigns, women's issues, the SU's commercial services and its relationship with the local community.

Senate Committees are a great source of student voice - they discuss issues ranging from commercial services to wellbeing, so are a really good opportunity for students to come together and run ideas or issues past each other. They are often the spaces in which ideas are sparked and policy proposals are first created.


Senate is the highest decision-making body of the SU - among other powers, it has the power to shape the direction of the Union through voting on policy, remove members of the Exec Team from office and approve the SU's financial reports.

Any student can attend a Senate meeting to get involved in the debate. The agendas are published in advance on the website.

Senate holds the Exec Team accountable. Officers must submit reports to Senate and answer questions from students.

Any student, including members of the Exec Team can submit a policy proposal.  

What can I do?

  • Encourage students to get involved - any student can submit policy and attend Senate meetings to discuss the issues of the day, with the agenda being uploaded in advance to the website. 
  • Visit the UMSU website to find out what students are saying - Senate minutes and news articles are a source of feedback about the student experience, and are a great way of keeping up-to-date with student matters
  • If you'd like to work more closely with the Part-Time Officers or any other aspect of the SU, get in touch.
  • Email the SU's Democratic Engagement Coordinator if you have any questions at