Vicky Seddon, treasurer of the lecturer's union NATFHE, was the first contender in the race for general secretary to issue a manifesto.
Announcing her intention to stand, at the annual Trades Union Congress in Brighton, she called for the union to be more "politically sure-footed" in its role centre-stage.
The union is seeking its fourth general secretary in seven years following the suspension and retirement of John Akker in the spring.
Pledging a raft of moves for closer working with others in the union movement, Ms Seddon said that under her leadership, NATFHE would "cultivate a new sense of political reality, so badly needed in the union, and which has started to surface since the early retirement of the previous secretary."
Paul Mackney, West Midlands regional official, confirmed his candidacy last week. Other contenders are expected to include Barry Lovejoy, FE sector chairman.