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 subudemocracy@bournemouth.ac.uk.


If you have any other questions about the referendum and want to find out more, get in touch at subudemocracy@bournemouth.ac.uk.


Results Announcement

The resolution has been carried and SUBU will now become an incorporated Charity

The results were as follows:

Total votes: 663

Votes for: 588

Votes against: 48

Abstentions: 27


Thank you to everyone who voted!


There are no referenda running at the moment.



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.