Wednesday, 6 May 2009

A Little History

The London Metropolitan University Student Union suffers from a blighted history of elections. Very little data appears to exist, but we have tried to create a timeline based on what we have uncovered.

We have asked the Student's Union office for details of previous elections, but were told that they do not retain any data. We also contacted the NUS to ask about their relationship to the university, but they did not get back to us.

Before 2006
  • No data found.
  • Only 1367 ballots were cast for the candidates.
  • According to a university spokesperson, this amounted to a mere 3% participation in the 2006 elections.
  • We had calculated a 4% participation rate based on the 2008 student population (34,000) as we could not find details of the 2006 student population, although this would suggest that student population was higher in 2006 than 2008.
  • In addition, control of Student Union functions was handed over to the university.

EDIT: We have received a spreadsheet breaking down the 2007 vote and so have updated this section.
  • 3,632 ballots were cast in this election.
  • The 2008 elections, conducted in the Spring semester, were voided due to election fraud.
  • Some 700 votes were tampered with.
  • If the voting level remained around that of 2006, over 50% of the votes would have been tampered with.
  • The 2008 elections were suspended until the Autumn semester of 2008, but then had to be taken into 2009, due to a lack of nominations.
  • The current elections (2009) have still not attracted a full lineup. One position (International Students Officer) has not attracted any nominations, while 5 positions have only one candidate.
Although data is extremely limited, what there is suggests a serious problem. This correspondent has talked to various figures, one of whom talked in apocalyptic terms about low turnout and low overall interest could destroy the Student Union as a functioning entity. Certainly, the Student Constitution, recently ratified in 2008 (even though we understand the ratifying body, the Student Council, to be currently disbanded) states that:
In the event that the % vote is less than 5% the University will not be bound to recognise the Union or to fund it.
In addition:
Recognition and funding shall be at the discretion of the University through approval by its Board of Governors and confirmed or otherwise at each Board meeting during the year.
As such, all that's left to say is: vote - it matters.


  1. Democracy in action surely... indifferent students elect (or ignore) indifferent officers. Students get as much as they ask for. I admire Rishi, Phillipe & Steve for trying; but if the Uni is not interested in listening to the students, and the majority of students are not interested in being heard, standing between the two seems a pretty thankless prospect.

    Also, could some clever law student, or the NUS if they want to earn some the thousands of pounds they charge us, reconcile

    "In the event that the % vote is less than 5% the University will not be bound to recognise the Union or to fund it."

    with what the Education Act 1994 says about institutions recognising Student Unions.

  2. You mean this part?

    22 Requirements to be observed in relation to students' unions

    (1) The governing body of every establishment to which this Part applies shall take such steps as are reasonably practicable to secure that any students' union for students at the establishment operates in a fair and democratic manner and is accountable for its finances.
    I guess it'll come along as 'practicable means that we shouldn't be funding a tiny minority of students, as the majority clearly don't care.

    I personally would love to know what arguments went around before powers were handed over to the uni - I hear that it was in return for money, which suggests that the SU was near-insolvent. Or they were just damn negligent of what they were going, I have no real certainty.

    I personally don't envy the job of anyone who gets elected. Even if they get somewhere, I can see it taking longer than any one course to regain the interest and trust of the student body.

    Oh, and:
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