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What are benefits of becoming a Sabbatical Officer?

Written by: UPSU

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Each year every University of Plymouth student is given the opportunity to nominate themselves in the Student Elections. These Elections decide which four students represent the voices of 18,000+ students at the University, campaign for change and ultimately work to improve the student experience as part of the Sabbatical Officer team.

If you think one of these roles is for you, or if you’ve never heard of the Elections of your Sabbatical Officer, read on to find out more about why this could be the perfect opportunity for you.

Nominations for the Student Elections 2023 close at midday on Monday 6th February.

Find out more and nominate yourself for the 2023 Student Elections here.


1. You can make a difference

In a world full of political change running as a Sabbatical Officer of your Students' Union may seem a little small fry, but in reality by taking on these roles you really can make significant change.

First and foremost, the role of a Sabbatical Officer is to represent University of Plymouth students. If elected you'll be responsible for representing over 18,000 University of Plymouth students on a national level. But what does this mean? This means that you'll be responsible for listening to student feedback, finding out what's being done well and what could be improved. Your job is to work to make those improvements.

“So the reason that I ran for Sabbatical Officer is actually because I was angry at some of the injustices that I was hearing that students were facing… I wanted to use that anger to create positive change and to make sure that students in the future didn't have to jump through all these hoops and go through what we did.” 

– Emi Dowse, studied BSc (Hons) Animal Behaviour and Welfare - VP Education (2020/2021) and SU President (2021/2022)



2. You can grow and develop as an individual in a professional environment

You don’t need to know it all when you start your role as a Sabbatical Officer. Throughout the Election process, you will be supported every step of the way by our Student Voice team and that support continues throughout your term in office. You'll have access to training opportunities throughout your term in office and 40+ members of full time UPSU staff who want to help you succeed.


 “My time as a Sabbatical Officer and the experiences that came with the role were vital to my personal development and ability to perform well in a professional capacity. I enjoyed every moment of my time in office, from pushing the sustainable agenda to being the voice for those that needed it. Without realising, I learnt how to confidently articulate myself in a way that I never saw possible for myself.” 

– Alex Doyle, studied MSc Digital and Social Media Marketing, VP Activities and Development (2017/18) and SU President (2018/19)



3. You won’t get bored

The role of a Sabbatical Officer is truly unique and full of variety. One day you could be out talking to students about how we can make our campus more sustainable. The next you could be sitting on the panel of a student appeal hearing. The following day you could be taking part in a national campaign affecting students across the country.

You have a direct say in how your SU is run as well as playing a prominent role in improving students' lives. This is your opportunity to campaign on issues affecting your peers, work on developing the strategic direction of UPSU and sit on the Trustee Board of a multi-million pound charity organisation.


“Putting myself forward in the Sabbatical Officer elections was possibly the best thing I could have ever done. Being a Sabb has made me experience so much. Some of the highlights include being a trustee of the Students' Union, sitting on the University Board of Governors, sitting on national meetings where we make decisions about sport, but genuinely just advocating for students, listening to students understanding their needs, and trying to make a difference to make the University experience all the better.”

– Verity Lemm, studied BSc (Hons) Biological Sciences VP Activities (2019/20 and 2020/21)



4. You can discover what you love and shape your future

Whether you’ve known all along what career you want to follow or you’re still undecided, this role gives you the opportunity to experience, first-hand, a whole range of different aspects within a multi-million pound charity.
As a Sabbatical Officer, you will be involved in conversations and decisions relating to strategic development, democratic procedures, communications, finance, HR, welfare, marketing, commercial outlets, budgeting, development and training.

“[An] aspect of the job that's really helped me is figuring out what it is I want to do after this year finishes. And I was convinced that finance was something I wanted to go into. And I've had the amazing opportunity of sitting on our Finance and Staffing Committee and looking at budgets, looking at the HR aspects, which has been so interesting.” 

– Charlotte Panchaud, studied BSc (Hons) Business Management, VP Activities and Development (2017/18)


5. You can learn new skills before the ballots even close

We know that the prospect of standing as a candidate in an Election can be intimidating and not all those who nominate themselves and stand in the Election will be elected into our Sabbatical Officer team for 2022/23. 
But do not take that as a reason not to nominate yourself. Campaigning/Voting Week takes place from the 27th February – 3rd March 2023 and the process of building a campaign, speaking to students and campaigning for their votes is a huge benefit in itself.

“Taking part in that campaign week and learning amazing skills - you know, talking eloquently about the things you care about and making amazing friends and building your confidence - these are skills that will last forever whether or not you win the role.” 


– Tilda Fraser, studied MPsych (Hons) Advanced Psychology, VP Wellbeing and Diversity (2018/19) and SU President (2019/20)