Student Ideas - How it works

The Process

Submission

An Idea can be anything from a new sauce in the bar to a new bus route in the city. If you can think of anything that The Students’ Union should be doing or doing differently, then submit it as an Idea.

When submitting an Idea, don’t use formal policy-making language, keep it simple! Each Idea has a 140 characters; you need to get the core concept of your Idea across in just one sentence. You can then expand on why you think the Idea is needed in the further information box below; the fewer words you use for this the better as it will mean other students will be more likely to read it.

Please be aware: only the title of the Student Idea will become Students' Union policy if passed; any additional information will not be binding.

Here are some examples of how to phrase Ideas:

  • The SU should sell sanitary products at cost price
  • There should be a relaxation zone in the University
  • The bar should sell more vegetarian and vegan food

Think about the outcome of your Idea, not the steps required to get there, and phrase your Idea to the outcome you want.

For advice on effective phrasing of Ideas, please come in and speak to a member of Students' Union staff or an elected President or Officer.

All Ideas can be submitted anonymously by ticking the box below the submission form.

Once an Idea has been submitted, the proposer no longer has to be involved in the process although they can be if they would like.

The Students' Union will aim to put any Idea that has been submitted onto the Ideas Page within one working day (Mon-Fri) of its submission. If an Idea isn't up within this time, it will likely be that it is because it is problematic. The process for a Problematic Idea is listed below.

Problematic Ideas

  • Where an Idea could be harmful on the basis of the concepts or wording, the proposer will be contacted by staff.
  • The smallest possible correction will be suggested, for the proposer to accept or refuse.
  • Where a suggestion is refused, the Democratic Procedures Committee will decide if the Idea should go online.
  • Where an original Idea marked as problematic receives a complaint, it will be taken offline if the complaint matches the problem.
  • This necessary protection is to (as far as possible) eliminate harm to proposers and voters caused by problematic Ideas.
  • Anonymity remains protected throughout the problematic Idea process.

voting

In order for an Idea to pass, students need to vote in favour of it. When a student clicks on an Idea that interests them, they will be taken to that Idea's individual page where they can decide how much they agree with it using the 5 options below:

  1. Strongly Agree
  2. Agree
  3. Neutral
  4. Disagree
  5. Strongly Disagree

On the same page, you can comment on the Idea and discuss with other students whether it should pass. You can also track the Ideas progress from its proposal to its successful completion and all the points in between. 

Commenting

When using the comment feature, students must abide by the same rules they do when at University and The Students' Union.

If a student finds an idea or a comment offensive or inappropriate then they can report it through our complaints procedure. As far as possible, Ideas and Comments will be a Safe Space in line with our Safer Spaces Policy and any breach can also be reported through our complaints procedure.

Comments that are not in line with these rules can be removed following a complaint from a student.

Comments in violation of the laws of England & Wales will be removed and reported to the police.

Campaigning

Every student at UWE can vote on an Idea so there are 30,000 students you can influence. Whether it’s your Idea or an Idea you think is really good, this is the absolute best way to ensure it passes. The harder you campaign the more likely you will get the outcome you want.

Campaigning can be as simple as getting your course mates to vote or sending a couple of Tweets. Alternatively, you can spend time in popular parts of the University like the Bar and talk to students or run a sustained social media campaign. 

For advice on effective campaigning, please come in and speak to a member of Students' Union staff or an elected President or Officer.

Not every Idea will get enough votes to automatically pass and if it doesn’t it will go to the Student Council Meeting. The Student Council meeting is open to all students as observers and so you have a great chance to convince the students at the meeting to pass the Idea. 

scoring

When voting on an Idea closes it will be scored using the following 3 criteria:

Voter Numbers Score
< 25 0
25 - 50 10
51 - 74 15
75 - 99 20
100 - 175 25
176 - 449 30
450 - 999 45
> 1000 50
Level of Agreement* Score
< 3.0 0
3.01 - 4.0 5
4.01 - 4.49 10
4.50 - 4.79 15
> 4.8 20
Majority Score
Negative 0
Simple Majority 20
Qualified Majority 25

Each criterion gets an individual score, the three are then combined to create the final score out of 100.

Based on that score each idea will be given a grade which mirrors degree awards.

Grading

  • A score of 70+ = 1st 
  • A score of 60 - 69 = 2:1
  • A score of 50 - 59 = 2:2
  • A score of 40 - 49 = 3rd 
  • A score below 40 = Fail
  • If any zero appears in an Ideas scoring, it will fail.

Contentious issues:

  • Any matter which is directly locally, nationally or internationally 'party' political is contentious.
  • Any Ban or Boycott is contentious.
  • Any stance on international conflict is contentious

Apart from Ideas that pass with a simple majority when at least 1000 students have voted, any contentious Idea will drop a grade when scored.

Overriding Affiliations:

Any Idea that would lead to disaffiliating with an External Organisation requires a vote of at least 1000 students and will be decided by simple majority of those voting.

* The level of agreement is the mean average of all the votes on an Idea. Strongly Agree scores 5, Agree scores 4, Neutral scores 3, Disagree scores 2, Strongly Disagree Scores 1. By adding all these scores together and dividing the total by the amount of voters we get the mean average.

Idea passes/Fails 

A 1st is an automatic pass that cannot be vetoed by the Exectuvie or by the Student Council Meeting.

A 2:1 is a high conditional pass and a 2:2 is a low conditional pass. Both will be sent to the Student Council Meeting to be discussed further.

A 3rd is not deemed to be a priority for The Students' Union and will only proceed if given a pass by the Executive.

A fail will not happen.

Ideas that fail to proceed can be sumbitted again only once in an academic year. 

Executive Decisions

The members of the Executive are elected by the whole student body and have been given a mandate to make important decisions about The SU as a result. Because of this, they have the ability to automatically pass Student Ideas as long as they can be carried out without opposition or detriment to other students.

Not all Ideas will gain the support of the wider student population but that doesn’t necessarily mean that they aren’t important. If, for example, students from a small postgraduate course had an Idea that affected only them, a member of the Executive could take it to the Executive meeting and suggest that it be automatically passed.

As a safeguard, The Student Council Meeting can overturn an Executive decision with a 2/3rd majority. 

student council meeting

The Student Council Meeting is the highest decision-making body at The SU. Twice a year 20 students are elected to attend. 10 from Societies Conference (with 5 representing National, Faith and Identity Societies), 5 from Sport Conference and 5 from Reps Committee. They are there to think about and discuss matters relating to The SU on behalf of the wider student body.

Ideas that come to the meeting are conditional passes and won't be worked on until they have been scrutinised. Unless they are vetoed at the meeting, they will pass and become Students' Union policy.

It takes two-thirds of the meeting to veto a 2:1 and 50%+1 to veto a 2:2

Meetings are run as facilitated group discussions. Everybody has the opportunity to share their thoughts and all opinions are respected even if not agreed with.

Members at the meeting have a responsibility to make decisions based on what would be in the best interest of students. Sometimes these won’t be easy decisions to make, this is why the meeting is so important.  

Every student at UWE Bristol is welcome to attend the Student Council Meeting as an observer. 

TRUSTEES

The Board of Trustees is responsible for directing The Students’ Union at UWE in the long term – looking at the strategic overview, including financial and legal security. Sitting on the Board are the 5 full-time members of the Executive (the Presidents), 2 Student Trustees and 4 External Trustees.

One of their roles is to look into the Legal, Financial and Reputational implications of Ideas. They have to make sure that The Students’ Union is successful in carrying out its objectives. If an Idea passes which could harm The SU, the Board of Trustees has the ability to overrule the Idea.

This legal requirement is outside democratic control since the Law of Equity, as expressed in Trust Law, (as applied to Charitable bodies) is a higher law than the democratic duty applied through the Education Act 1994.

The Students' Union works to make the idea a reality

Once an Idea has passed, The Students' Union will work to implement it. Some Ideas can be as simple as a conversation with the right person, others involve months of work. Most of the work will be carried out by the Executive and SU staff but any student can get involved in turning an Idea into reality.

There are a few reasons for doing this:

  • If it was your Idea or an Idea you’re passionate about being involved allows you to make sure the outcome is exactly what you envisaged
  • Being involved can also provide invaluable experience. With The Students' Union's resources students can manage projects, run events, meet with important figures at the University and in Bristol and potentially put their name to something locally or nationally recognised
  • There are also accreditations, such as the Bristol Futures Award, that can be gained. These are recognised by employers and are really useful to have on a CV