Election of Senior Governor FAQs

What is the role of Senior Governor?

The Senior Governor is responsible for the leadership and effectiveness of our Court – which is the governing body of the University. The role is similar to that undertaken by a non-executive Chair of a company board of directors. The Senior Governor has a key role in leading the Court and in managing the relationship between it and the Principal and Senior Management Team - who are accountable to Court for the management and performance of the University. The Senior Governor also leads, on behalf of Court, the Principal’s appraisal. It is therefore a hugely important position.

Read more about the role here.

Why are we having an election?

Esther Roberton stood down from the role of Senior Governor on 31 December 2020. The existence of a vacancy then triggered the process outlined in the Higher Education Governance Act (2016). By law in Scotland, all universities are required to hold an election of students, staff and members of the Court to appoint the Senior Governor. The candidates for the role have been identified through a wide-ranging promotion of the role as required by the legislation.

This is your opportunity to vote for the person you feel is best qualified to lead the Court, the governing body of your University.

Don’t we already have an elected Rector?

Yes we do. However, the two roles on Court are very different. Also, while the Senior Governor is elected by staff and students, only students can vote in the Rector election.

What is the difference between the Rector and the Senior Governor?

The Rector is a role in Scotland which is associated with the Ancient Universities. The Rector is elected by the students and is generally expected to work closely with the student body to make sure all voices are heard by the University.    

The Rector has the right to preside at meetings of the Court, though the way in which this function has been delivered has varied between Rectors and between Universities.   The Rector is not responsible for the leadership of the Court or its effectiveness, those are the responsibilities of the Senior Governor.   

All Universities in the UK have a Senior Governor but the role is often referred to as the Chair or Convenor and the reference in legislation is to the Senior Lay Member.

You can read more about the respective roles here.

What does Court do?

Court is the University’s governing body. It guides the University’s strategic direction and is responsible for ensuring its finances are healthy and that Senate is effectively managing academic issues. Its business regularly includes key issues such as budgets, staffing policy, estates and capital projects, academic plans, monitoring performance against strategic targets, the student experience, and ensuring the University fulfils its obligations to all its stakeholders – students, staff, alumni, the local and national community and funding bodies.

You can read more about the role of Court here.

When is the election?

Online voting opens on Wednesday 5 May and closes Friday 7 May at 5pm.

Who can vote in the election?

Students who are fully matriculated, or staff who are employed on a salaried contract, as at 12 April 2021 (including those on furlough) are entitled to vote. This includes students at our Qatar campus, and those registered for online and distance learning programmes. 

Students given temporary registration (or who are classified as ‘visiting students’ or ‘dormant’) and staff engaged on temporary services, guaranteed minimum hours and honorary contracts are not entitled to vote in this election. 

Members of Court are also able to vote in the election.

What if I leave or join the University after 12 April – can I vote?

No. If you leave the University as an employee or student after the electoral census date of 12 April 2021, and before voting opens on the 5th May, then you will not be eligible to vote. If you joined the University after 12 April 2021, we regret that you are not entitled to vote on this occasion.

How do I vote?

This will be an ‘online’ election through a voting website provided by Civica Election Services.

If you are eligible to vote, you will receive an e-mail from Civica Election Services on Wednesday 5 May from 9am onwards. This will provide you with a link that is unique to you and will take you directly to the voting website, where you then follow the instructions on how to cast your vote.

What if I don’t receive my voting instructions?

First check that you are eligible to vote – see “who can vote” above. Then check your Clutter, Junk and deleted folders in case the e-mail from Civica has been received there.

If you still cannot find the e-mail you can request it be reissued to you by selecting the “Don’t know your security code” button on the voting site or by contacting Civica Customer Services and including the reference R0831_1.

Please do not use these options before 5 May and having first undertaken the checks above.

You can also contact seniorgovernorelection@abdn.ac.uk if you have a query about the process.

I’m a member of staff and a student, can I vote twice?

No – you can only vote once in the election. If you are eligible to vote as both a member of staff and as a student, you will receive your voting instructions via both your staff and student e-mail addresses and you can vote using either but procedures are in place to ensure you cannot vote twice.  

I will be away from the University during the election. Can I still vote?

Yes – you can vote online from anywhere by logging in to your e-mail and clicking the link within the voting instructions that have been sent to you.

How do I find out more about the candidates?

By reading the candidates’ election statements and watching a recording of the online open meeting with candidates that was held on Tuesday 4 May at 2pm. You can access both on the Senior Governor Election page.

I can’t attend the open meetings with candidates– can I watch them later online?

Yes – a recording is available here.

How many candidates can I vote for?

You can only vote for one candidate. By law, this a ‘first past the post’ election – the candidate with the most votes wins.

Who is overseeing the Election?

The recruitment and election process is overseen by a sub-committee of the Court which includes independent members of the Court, student and staff members of Court and members of Senate. Further information on the role and membership of the committee is available here.

The Returning Officer for the election process is the University Secretary, Tracey Slaven.

The process is governed by the Higher Education Governance (Scotland) Act 2016 and the further rules agreed by the Court.

The counting of votes and administration of the voting website and software is being undertaken independently by Civica Election Services.

Is the Senior Governor paid?

The Senior Governor is not an employee of the University but is offered remuneration which is a requirement of the legislation. There is no obligation, however, for the Senior Governor to accept the remuneration. The Court’s Remuneration Committee has agreed the level of remuneration on an honorarium basis of £20,000 per annum, with a time commitment of 50 days per annum.

Will candidates or their representatives be handing out flyers or posters on campus?

No. Notwithstanding restrictions prevailing from the circumstances of the pandemic, poster and flyer campaigning are not permitted under the rules.