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What is the Leadership Race? 

We’re going to be talking a lot about the Leadership Race over the coming weeks, but what’s it all about? The Leadership Race is your opportunity to take on a leadership role at UCL for the next academic year. You could become the next Education Officer, the next Disabled Students’ Officer or the next President of the Lacrosse club - or take on literally 1,000’s of other positions. Sabbatical Officers and Part-time Officers are a busy bunch (massive understatement) who make sure that campus runs smoothly and fairly and most importantly, in the best interests of students (and who better to be the voice of students than students themselves?). There’s quite a few roles up for grabs (7 full-time Sabbatical Officers and 12 Part-Time Officers). Describing these positions isn’t exactly an easy feat but we’re going to try and tell you a bit more about the Sabbatical Officers here.

Let’s start off by talking about pay for a Sabbatical Officer role - Sabbs work full-time (taking a year out of Uni) and get paid about £25,000. A decent starting salary, comparable to a grad-scheme. But of course, in a role like this it’s not about the pay. It’s about the difference you’ll be making in the place you’ve been living and breathing for the last few months or years. And while you’re making change, you’ll have the chance to follow your ideas and make the role what you want it to be. Just like a grad-scheme, you’ll get a huge amount of training, development opportunities and support, but unlike a grad-scheme once you start, (depending on the role) you’ll become a Trustee of Students’ Union UCL. We’re a registered charity with a budget of around £10m, hundreds of staff and lot to do - being a Sabb is a big responsibility, but something you’ll be plugging on your CV for years.

Because the role is what you make it, it can be difficult to explain. Every day is a different experience. Over the next few days we’ll be sharing videos of our current Sabbs so you can get an idea of what they do on a ‘normal’ day. Things like attending meetings with the Provost and senior officials at UCL or running a Women’s Coffee Hour - there’s so many different things you can do with these roles (granted, the last point about the coffee hour applies to the Women’s Officer). Each Sabb role has a specific area of responsibility - Let’s break it down for you below:

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Full-Time Sabbatical Roles

Activities Officer

- Responsible for all Clubs and Societies at the Union, along with volunteering and social enterprise opportunities.
- Makes sure that Union events and societies are engaging, fair and accessible for students
- Chairs the Activities Zone (the process by which we make your ideas into policies that the Union acts on) and become a Trustee of the Union.

The Activities Officer ensures that student activities, including clubs, societies and their associated funding and facilities, as well as the Volunteering Service are effectively represented in UCL decision making. This means that they have a lot of contact time with students and societies. This role is ideal for someone who is invested in Clubs and Societies or the Volunteering Service and wants to make change within these groups.

Black and Ethnic Minorities Students’ Officer

- Represent the interests and needs of BME students in the highest levels at UCL and at the Union
- Build a strong and supportive community of BME students at UCL
- Lead the Union’s campaigns on issues faced by BME students on campus, including working with like-minded campaigns at a national level

This role is only open to students who self-identify as BME but there’s a lot of students at UCL who do, about 55%. As BME Officer you’ll be representing all those who are from an African, Asian, Arab or Caribbean background. You’ll be working to oppose racism and discrimination and will make sure that the things that are affecting BME students at UCL are addressed at the highest levels.

Democracy, Operations and Community Officer

- Makes sure the Union is run fairly and democratically by students, for students. This includes chairing Union - Executive, the democratic body responsible for ratifying and overseeing the implementation of all Union Policy, becoming a Student Trustee and becoming a member of the Union’s Leadership Team.
- Represents the interests and needs of students to decision-making bodies within the university, the Union and beyond, including being a member of UCL Council.
- Shapes how the Union presents itself to students and the public through its communications and media.

The Democracy, Operations and Community Officer (bit of a mouthful) gives one lucky candidate the chance to experience the world of business and commerce (the operations bit of the title means that you’ll be spearheading changes to our commercial outlets eg. Cafes, bars, shop). You’ll be implementing the business needs of the Union but you’ll also be key in making sure that the Union serves the people it’s here to serve, the students of UCL.

Education Officer

- Works to improve the educational experience of all students at UCL by running campaigns and by becoming the lead Officer in different senior committees, including UCL Council.
- Chairs the Education Zone, the democratic forum for passing Union Policy related to education
- Oversees the academic sections and the election of academic representatives

Like the title of the role, the Education Officer is here to look after the thing you’re here for: your education. They serve as the student representative in the most senior UCL committees, making sure that UCL serves the needs of students without deviating from this agenda. As an Education Officer you’ll be responsible for a very large and diverse cohort of people and it’ll be up to you to unite the needs of many in order to represent the academic interests of all.

Postgraduate Students’ Officer

- Represents the interests and needs of postgraduate students to decision-making bodies within the university, the Union and beyond
- Creates and organises social events and activities to build a strong and supportive postgraduate student community at UCL
- Makes sure that the Union is run in a way that engages and meets the needs of postgraduate students

Over half of students at UCL are Postgraduates which should mean it’s easy for Postgrads to meet others at the same level of study and network. But this isn’t always the case, with many Postgraduates not feeling part of the UCL community. This role exists to change that. By becoming Postgraduate Students’ Officer, you’ll become the voice for all Postgraduates and help make the changes that this community wants.

Welfare & International Officer

- Represents the interests of international students and organises activities and events to make sure that international students are supported and welcomed at UCL.
- Works on initiatives to improve student wellbeing and welfare
- Is the lead officer for Union campaigns for affordable and accessible student housing

The welfare of everyone here is so so important and through this role, you’ll be making sure UCL is as fair, accessible and as welcoming an environment as possible. You’ll also be working to make sure that the specific needs of international students are met.

Women’s Officer

- Represent the interests and needs of students who self-define as women, who fall under the intersections of the feminist movement including non-binary, queer gender identities, as well as people who question their gender
- Lead the Women’s Network
- Champion the Active Bystander Programme and Full Stop to Bully Harassment and Sexual Misconduct campaign to students and staff

As a Women’s Officer, you’ll be integral in creating a safe and welcoming space on campus and drawing together an amazing community of people together with the Women’s Network.


Hopefully that’s given you a bit of an intro to the Sabb roles. We’ll be sharing more information about the roles in the coming weeks but these are the bare bones of what each Sabb is here to do. However, like we previously said, this job is what you make it. Your campaign promises will play a big part in making the role your own as you will spend the year working on things you’ve promised during the election. We’re not gonna lie, this is a tough but very rewarding role. Change is hard won, but it starts with an idea, with passionate people and with lots of effort.

Being a Sabb is not a ‘lone wolf’ kind of job. You’ll be supported throughout by Union staff and the other Sabbatical Officers. These roles are open to everyone, no matter what kind of experience you have, and while you probably don’t have experience in leading a multi-million company and speaking to the people who run one of the most prestigious universities in the world yet, there’s a whole organisation here to support you. The way you make a mark on university life as a Sabbatical Officer will be your legacy - seen for years to come.

So, what’s in it for me? 

Standing for the Leadership Race can open a great many doors, so whether you’re looking for a new opportunity, you’re looking to develop professionally or personally, or you just want to make new friends and meet new people, this is the way to do it! This is your chance to lead and make change. 

  1. A new challenge
    You’ll never know until you try! Being an elected officer could be your calling and it can help you discover so many new things you never knew you could do.
  2. The opportunity to become a leader, to bring about change
    If there is something you want changing, this is the way to do it! You’ll be the person to make an impact in your life and to the lives of others. You’ll become the voice of the people you represent and you’ll be pivotal in running campaigns (with the support of a team of people at the Union) to enact change. 
  3. Boost your CV
    Give yourself that extra edge over other candidates when applying for roles after university. Even if you don’t win a role, running in the Leadership Race shows that you’re an active, engaged person who is willing to put themselves forward. Throughout the whole process, you’ll find that you’ll discover new skills like campaigning and communicating to a large audience. Even day-to-day you’ll be doing like running events, influencing, multitasking and organising are still great things to talk about in any prospective job application. 
  4. A career in higher education? 
    Sabbatical Officers sit on the major commitments with the senior management team of the Union so it’s a great insight into what a career in higher education looks like. 
  5. Meet new people
    A large part of the role is talking to students and meeting loads of people in order to enact change. You’ll create a real bond with your other officers, but you’ll also create relationships with Union staff, university management, the wider community and most importantly, the students. It’s also a great opportunity to showcase interpersonal skills on your CV. 

Apply now