Pre-election guidance for staff

With the general election scheduled for 12 December 2019, we are now in the official pre-election period between the election announcement and the final results. This period will end when a new government is formed.

During general election campaign periods, there are laws and conventions that restrict actions and announcements that could show affiliation to a political party or have an influence on the outcome.

As a university, we need to remain politically neutral and ensure institutional communications do not endorse particular political parties or candidates throughout the pre-election period.

We must also act with caution when publishing details of government-funded research or initiatives – for example research that has been funded by research councils.

Guidance varies slightly between funding bodies, but essentially suggests that:

  • New government-funded announcements should preferably be avoided during the period.
  • If publication dates are already planned, for example in academic journals, then they can go ahead but the associated publicity should not mention the funding body.
  • Academics should be cautious when promoting commentary/thought leadership that relates to government-funded initiatives or research.

If in doubt or if you have any questions, please contact your funder or email the University media team at: mediateam@sheffield.ac.uk


Specific guidance that we have been informed about includes:

  • The High Value Manufacturing Catapult is avoiding commentary on politicians, political parties and government announcements, but continuing to make announcements about activity that does not involve a government partner.
  • UK Research and Innovation (UKRI) has said pre-election restrictions do not apply to independent institutes in receipt of UKRI funding. Researchers employed directly by UKRI are able to publish and communicate the findings of academic work during this period but should be mindful of political impartiality.

A note on election and charity law issues for university communications and campaigns teams from Universities UK (UUK)

This sets out some of the issues to consider during the pre-election period – from providing statements on policies in manifestos, to holding hustings events (meetings where election candidates or parties debate policies and answer questions from the audience).

As with previous elections and the EU referendum, there is absolutely nothing to stop universities from highlighting the policy areas which affect the sector which we would like to see the next government tackle – indeed it is important that informed voices from academia are able to take part in dissecting and debating a wide range of issues. This note produced by UUK provides further guidance for the run up to 12 December:

Download UUK note (PDF, 330KB)