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What is a referendum?

SUBU is a democratic organisation, this means that you, the students, get a say in what we do and how we do it. There are a couple of different democratic functions at SUBU like Elections and the Big Student Meeting, another one of these is Referenda. Much like referendums that happen on a national scale for things like Brexit, the electorate (YOU!) get asked whether or not you would like something to happen.

A referendum is a direct vote when all SUBU members are invited to vote. In accordance with our constitution and by laws in order to determine an outcome there needs to be a quorum of 5%, this is the minimum number of people who need to vote to make decisions valid. In most referendums, a simple majority is needed to make the change, but in others 75% is required.

Referendums can be called if a petition is signed by at least 400 students, more information about petitions can be found on the e-democracy area on the website. Referendum can also be called by a resolution of the Trustees and Executive Committee. Referendums must be open for at least 4 weeks during term time.

You can view the governing documents outlining our referenda process here.


How do I vote?

Simply log into your account using the student log in to cast your vote, it is really that simple. If you are experiencing any issues logging in, it is likely that you did not opt in to the union at the beginning of the year.  Support with opting in is outlined on the log in page, alternatively please contact


If you have any other questions about the referendum and want to find out more, get in touch at


The Executive Committee has called a referendum on whether SUBU should incorporate. Don’t worry if you are not familiar with this, we’ve got your back and you can find out more information about what this means below.

The referendum will be live from Monday 23rd March at 12pm until Friday 8th May at 12pm, so make sure you vote!


SUBU incorporation

Should SUBU incorporate? Full resolution below

SUBU is getting Better.

Your Students’ Union at Bournemouth is always looking to get better and do more things for our members like yourself. Whether its our advice centre, the sports and societies we offer or our student officers fighting for you within University meetings we want to be the best we can be.

Over the next few months we will be in touch with changes to the way we listen to students and how you can tell us what support you need. We’re a student led organisation and you can have your say in how we are run (this is why you were able to vote in the elections recently). We’re asking you to help us prepare for these democratic changes by allowing us to make a legal change.

What we want to change

We want SUBU to become a Charitable Company. Lots of charities like Oxfam, Help for Heroes or Breast Cancer UK are also companies and it doesn’t stop them doing good work for their members. Becoming a company will give better protection to the student Trustees, Officers and others who run the Union and help us encourage a broader range of expertise on the board.

To do this we need approval from you, our student members.

What would these changes mean for me as a student?

If we become a company (incorporate) you won’t see many changes as a student. You can still play in the sports teams, choose who represents you to the university in the elections and have a great night out in the Old Fire Station. It’s about creating a different legal vehicle not changing the way of student life.

What needs to happen?

We want you to agree that we can become a company and that we can move the current activity of the Union to that company starting from the next academic year. Usually we would do this with a meeting of students but because of Covid 19 we can’t do that.

What the union owns (its assets) and what the debts it had (its liabilities) will be moved to new Company (which is a limited liability entity).

If you have any questions about them before you vote you can do so by emailing

The vote

We would like you to choose one of the following. The resolution is quite unusual and that is because we have been guided to use it by our lawyers to make sure everything is done correctly.

Remember if you are unsure you can ask us if you have any further questions.

  • YES – I agree with the resolution below
  • NO – I do not agree with the resolution below
  • ABSTAIN – I wish not to vote


"In accordance with clause 6 of the Union's Constitution, the Members resolve to authorise the Trustees to:

  • transfer the assets and liabilities of the Union to a limited liability entity established for exclusively charitable purposes with the same or similar objects as the Union; and
  • dissolve the Union at any time following the transfer if it is considered appropriate to do so ".

Vote Above


YES! We are not going anywhere!

The plan was originally to take the resolution to the Big Student Meeting which was due to take place on the 24th March, but due to COVID-19 we have had to indefinitely postpone this. In order to meet time scales to incorporate this year we have had to use another of our democratic processes- referenda.

We also know that it probably isn’t the most exciting thing for students, but it is really important for the sustainability of SUBU and will allow us to continue working for you!

SUBU will register as a Charitable Company Limited by Guarantee (CLG). Most other SUs are incorporated and so are most larger charities. SUBU will still be a charity and our charitable purposes will not be changing; we will still be working for students.

The Trustees will become company directors and SUBU will be subject to company law. In practice these mirror a lot of the requirements we already abide to as a charity, but now we'll have an additional regulator.

Because we are making legal changes to the organisation, the wording in the resolution has to be quite jargony. We consulted lawyers who advised us on the wording of the resolution.

You might be asking yourself why we have included 'Dissolve the Union at any time following the transfer.' Dissolving the Union would only happen once a new Company is in place and so there won't be any break in any activity. It's a bit like when you move from one flat to another. You don't need to keep the old flat because all of your possession are in the new one so you wind up your contract there and stop paying rent.

You might be wondering why we want to incorporate. Essentially it will mean that our Trustees, which included student volunteers and your Full-Time Officers, are protected.

Currently SUBU is recognsied as an independent organisation but it does not have a legal form in its own right. Instead, each year the student body elect a group of student individuals who they trust to be responsible for the finances, resources, reputation and staff of the Union (Trustees). This group is supplemented by external trustees who also hold these resources in trust on behalf of the student body. A staff member is also appointed. Any business or work carried out by the organisation is essentially being done on behalf of those trustees and at their risk.

Incorporation is particularly important because SUBU is part of a pension scheme which the Trustees could be liable for.

As we will be a 'new' organisation, we will have new Articles of Association to match. The structure of the new organisation will remain very similar to the one already in place, with a few small changes to our corporate governance.

Within SUBU little will change structurally - student represtation will still sit with the Executive Committee and our 'Big Student Meetings' and there is still a governing body (the Trustee Board).

The Trustee Board will be changing slightly. Up until last year only one Full-Time Officer sat on SUBU's Trustee Board, but to ensure that as a Students' Union we are student-led, now all our Full-Time Officers are also Trusteees. Consequently, we need our Articles to reflect this change in membership. The new Trustee Board will made up of:

  • 4 Full-Time Officers of the Union
  • 3 students from the general student body
  • 5 external members who are not students

There are various additional administrative changes made; for example, to update the rules on using technology to hold meetings remotely. Because the Trustee Board is being reduced, the quorum will also be changing to account for the smaller membership.

There are also a few other small changes to our democratic structures. These are minimal and better reflect good practice from other Students' Unions.

There has been clarification on the roles of the Trustee Board and Executive Committee; this allows the Trustee Board to focus on corporate governance while the Executive Committee can focus on the student experience, representation, democracy and campaigning.

The quorum for referendum has been set at 5%. This means that we are future-proofed against increases and decreases in student numbers.

To call a Vote of No Confidence against an officer, you'll need 100 students to sign the petition and to remove a Trustee, you'll need 66% of students voting at a student meeting or a majority of those voting in a general meeting to vote in favour.

There are also a few other areas where flexibility has been increased to ensure that as a union we are acting in the best interest of all our students.

The referendum was called by your Executive Committee, which is made up of the Full- and Part-Time Officers of the Union.

By becoming a charitable company limited by guarantee (CLG) we will be removing personal liability which will safeguard our Trustees, which include your fellow students. We also hope that this will also enable us to recruit a high calibre of external trustees who can bring expertise. We believe that this will enable SUBU to become a more effective charity.

Common disadvantages of incorporating are that our documents, including financial statements become public, there is additional compliance and a little more administration, all of which we think will serve to make SUBU a more robust and transparent organisation.

We do not think that there are any disadvantages, which is why we want you to vote to allow SUBU to incorporate, but we also want all our members to make the choice that they think is best for themselves and for the organisation.

Competition Terms & Conditions

Any current SUBU member who has cast their vote in the referendum will be entered into a randomised prize draw

You must vote before the end of the referendum at 12pmon the 8th of May

The prize draw will only be announced if the referendum reaches quorum- 5% of SUBU members