What is a Referendum?

Referendum (noun)
An occasion when all the people of a country can vote on an important issue

A Referendum is when all the people of a country or a member-led organisation such as a Students' Union, are given the opportunity to vote on a specific question. They are different from elections as there are no candidates or parties, simply a question is put, often with a simple 'yes' or 'no' options to choose from. They tend to occur infrequently and often decide highly important matters which are deemed to be of such gravity that they should be put directly for the people to decide, rather than be decided by elected representatives such as Members of Parliament. Recent referendums in the UK include 'Should the UK leave the European Union?' and 'Should Scotland be an independent Nation?' 


Referendums and the Students' Union

The governing documents of the Students' Union make provision for a referendum to be held on 'any matter' as long as it is correctly convened. Section 13 of the Article of Association (Students' Union Constitution) sets out what is needed. In summery, a referendum may be called on the agreement of the Trustee Board, majority vote by the Student Council or a petition of the student membership. 

If a referendum is called for 2021-22 academic year, this is the time line which must be followed to make the referendum logistically possible: 

  • Deadline for referendum questions - Weds 27th Oct

  • Policy panel - Mon 1st Nov

  • Campaigners confirmed - Weds 3rd Nov

  • Campaigning starts - Weds 10th Nov

  • Debate - Thurs 18th Nov

  • Voting opens - Weds 17th Nov

  • Voting closes - Fri 19th Nov

  • Results announced - Fri 19th Nov