FAQs for International Students
How do I get to SOAS when I arrive in the UK?
For general information on travelling to SOAS please go to Travel Advice.
You can also find information about taking public transport on the Transport for London website: www.tfl.gov.uk. For discounted travel on London buses and the underground, full-time students can apply for a Student Oyster Photocard at http://photocard.tfl.gov.uk/tfl/showLogon.do
Do I need to register with the Police?Information on registering with the police can be found on the International Student and Welfare webpages
What should I do during Welcome Week?
During Welcome Week you can take part in a number of important workshops and activities. For instance there will be Faculty and departmental welcome meetings, study skills talks, language tasters, walking tours of the local area and the campus, as well as lots of fun events organised by the Students' Union.
This week is also when you formally enrol in the School and collect your Student ID card and sign-up for your courses.
The full schedule of events will be available in late summer.
What happens if I am not able to attend Welcome Week?
It is important that you enrol during Welcome Week at your scheduled time. A lot of essential information about SOAS, your faculty and your programme of study is provided at this time, as well as plenty of social events and activities to help you settle in.
If you are not able to enrol during Welcome Week, there will be a late enrolment facility.
Please come prepared with your essential documents.
How do I pay my fees?Please visit the Tuition Fees webpages for full details.
Are there any specific events for international students during Welcome Week?
Yes, as an international student, you are strongly advised to attend the International Students’ Orientation. This is a valuable introduction to all aspects of SOAS life for all non-UK students coming to SOAS for the first time.
You are also expected to attend a number of general meetings and talks during Welcome Week, such as Students Services talks and welcome meetings hosted by the various academic departments and faculties in the School.
You might also be interested in attending language events, workshops on study tips and social activities, including walking tours of the local area and Students’ Union events and Freshers’ Fayre.
Will my department have a Welcome Meeting?
What study support is available?
Each Faculty has a Student Support Office where dedicated staff can provide you with access to information and contacts. Additionally, each undergraduate student (including combined studies students) is provided with access to a tutor for pastoral and academic support. Students are expected to meet with their tutor, especially before making course choices, and may do so at set office hours when necessary. Faculty Offices also arrange back-up for emergencies when a particular Tutor may not be available. Course Teachers, Programme Conveners and/or Departmental Tutors are also able to offer advice on academic issues.
Academic Development Directorate
The Academic Development Directorate offers study support and academic skills development for all students throughout the year.
Whether you need to learn a new skill, refresh your memory or improve your grades, there’s a workshop for you. Here is a sample of what’s on offer:
- writing essays/dissertations
- reading the books on your reading lists
- listening to lectures and taking notes
- managing your time
- making presentations
- revision and exam techniques
We have a skilled team of tutors, who provide one-to-one tutorial support on all aspects of essay and dissertation writing. Tutors are SOAS PhD students with specific training in academic development and support. Tutorials can be booked by coming in person to the ADD (on the ground floor of the main Russell Square building, room RG01).
Go to the Academic Development Directorate for further details.
Phone: 020 7898 4550
When will I get my timetable?
The school timetable will be available online at SOAS Timetable before the beginning of term. You will need your username (SOAS ID number) to access your personal timetable. Your personal timetable only covers lectures for which you are currently registered within the student records system.
Your tutorial group will be allocated during the first week of teaching and groupings will be explained by the course lecturers.
How do I find my way around SOAS?Please see Finding you room at SOAS for a campus map and a key to finding SOAS room numbers.
Is there an International Students’ Office at SOAS?
The International Student and Welfare Office has specific information and advice for international students on issues such as immigration, health and banking as well as many others. Please see the International Student and Welfare Office webpages to find out more.
I have a disability/have dyslexia. What should I do?
If you have a disability (including any specific learning difficulty such as dyslexia), please contact Zoe Davis, the Student Disability Advisor, as soon as possible. You can contact her on email@example.com or 020 7074 5018. She will be able to advise you on the arrangements that can be made for you and let you know about the facilities available. Please bring any relevant documentation (e.g. medical certificates, dyslexia assessment reports) with you.
You can find out more about being a disabled student at SOAS by going to the Student Disability Office.
How do I find out more about using the Library?
All the information you need is available from the SOAS Library webpages.
Training sessions on using the Library, on regional resources and on electronic resources will be held during term. You may also book a one-to-one introduction session with a specialist librarian. Look out for emails or see the Library Training webpages for further details.
What facilities does SOAS offer for practising my religion?
SOAS is not only a centre for the academic study of religions and cultures at the heart of a great world city, it is also a community of people where individuals live out their faith in an open and encouraging environment.
A team of chaplains offer many services to students, including opportunities for prayer and worship. The SOAS Chaplaincy is situated in the Faber Building, Room F403 (top floor) or visit the SOAS Chaplaincy website.
For information on prayer rooms in SOAS and to find out about places of worship near to SOAS, please visit www.soas.ac.uk/studentservices/students/worship
Can I get meals on campus?
The Refectory, located on the lower ground floor of the main College Buildings opens from 8.30 am – 10:00 am, 11.45 am – 2.30 pm and 5:00 pm – 7:00 pm (evenings in term time only). The Refectory offers both a hot breakfast and continental breakfast, lunch and dinner, including a range of international cuisine, as well as salads, sandwiches, confectionery, soup and jacket potatoes. You can either eat-in or take the food away.
The Students’ Union snack bar in the Junior Common Room (JCR) on the ground floor offers a wide variety of snacks, such as sandwiches, salads, and crisps, as well as hot and cold drinks. Freshly ground coffee and healthy snacks are also available in this student-run snack bar.
The SOAS bar is just downstairs from the JCR and serves alcoholic and non-alcoholic drinks, including teas and coffee, as well as a number of snacks, including pies, pasties, and samosas.
The Vernon Square campus also has a snack shop and common room on the ground floor.
If I am not feeling well, is there a health service near SOAS I can go to?
In an emergency there are qualified first-aiders available at all the SOAS sites.
The nearest GP surgery is University of London Central Institutions Health Service at 20 Gower Street WC1 (close to Russell Square). You can register with them if you live in central London. If you are living outside central London, it is advisable to register with a local doctor. Visit the National Health Service website www.nhs.uk/servicedirectories/Pages/ServiceSearch.aspx to find out how to find a local doctor.
Please note there is also an Accident and Emergency department at the nearby University College Hospital at 235 Euston Road, London NW1 2BU.
What do I do if I have financial problems?
The SOAS Welfare Officers give advice on budgeting and financial matters, including assistance in dealing with problems with student loans. In some circumstances, students are entitled to apply for hardship funds for extra financial support. Email firstname.lastname@example.org for advice or to make an appointment.
If you are considering taking on a part-time job, SOAS Careers Service (room G12 on the ground floor of the main building) advertises part-time and temporary job vacancies. The Careers team can also help you to write an appropriate CV. Email email@example.com for more information.
I need to open a bank account. How do I go about doing this?
UK students can apply for a student bank account with an interest-free overdraft. Only use this overdraft for emergencies, and stay within your authorised overdraft or you will be charged high fees and interest.
International students may wish to open a bank account in the UK, and you can do this once you have enrolled at SOAS. Advice on this will be given at the International Students' Orientation Day.
You will need a letter from SOAS for your bank stating your student status. This can be obtained from the Registry webpages. But please remember that due to the high number of requests at the beginning of term this can take up to 5 working days to be processed. Make sure that you have access to or bring enough funds with you to pay for your essentials in the first few weeks of your stay until you open a UK bank account.
What sports facilities are available?
The University of London Union (ULU), which is just around the corner from the Russell Square campus on Malet Street, operates Energy Base, a comprehensive gym and swimming pool. See the website www.ulu.co.uk/energybase for more details.
The SOAS Students' Union also runs a number of sports societies and teams, from football and tennis to martial arts and capoeira. See the Students’ Union website www.soasunion.org for more information on how to get involved.
What social activities are available?
As well as the wealth of social facilities in and around London, the SOAS Students' Union and the University of London Union (ULU) organise events and activities throughout the year. The SOAS Students' Union runs a very popular bar with regular evening events, including a pub quiz, live music and cultural evenings.
The Students’ Union also facilitates and funds around 100 clubs and societies, from sport to drama, and debating to yoga. Most interests are covered, and active participation is encouraged. A common room at the Vernon Square campus also hosts regular film screenings.
The job of the Union during Welcome Week is to help new students (otherwise known as ‘freshers’) to feel at home, make friends, and get involved in the active life of SOAS. There will be a Freshers’ Events programme which you will receive when you arrive.
SOAS is also a member of International Students House (ISH), which organises social activities, outings and holidays throughout the year. See www.ish.org.uk for details.
Are there any childcare facilities in SOAS?
Although SOAS does not provide its own childcare facilities, students are entitled to apply to those of nearby institutions, such as UCL and the Institute of Education. Relevant information, advice and support can be found here: www.soas.ac.uk/equalitydiversity/childcare
Can I bring my car? Is there parking available?
Due to SOAS's central location car-parking is very difficult but the School provides plenty of space for bicycles.
Can I combine my course with a job?
Yes but you should check your visa status and consider your workload before you commit. Most international students can work up to 20 hours a week part-time. The SOAS Careers Service (room G12 on the ground floor of the main building) advertises part-time and temporary job vacancies, as well as full-time graduate jobs. The Careers team can also give you feedback on your CV and give you advice on how to choose a job which will develop your career as well as helping to fund your study.
If you are not sure if your visa allows you to work, you should contact the Welfare Office on firstname.lastname@example.org.
Where can I buy cheap stationery?
You can buy this in the Students' Union shop on the ground floor of the Russell Square campus.
Are there any second-hand bookshops nearby?
Yes, there are several second-hand bookshops near SOAS:
- Arthur Probsthain, (Oriental and African bookseller) has two branches, one on campus in the Brunei Gallery and the other opposite the British Museum at 41 Great Russell Street, WC1B 3PH. The Brunei Gallery branch also sells the course ‘studypacks’, which are collected photocopies of required readings assigned by lecturers
- Oxfam Bookshop, 12 Bloomsbury Street, WC1B 3QA
- Judd Books, 82 Marchmont Street, WC1N 1AG
- Waterstones, 82 Gower Street, WC1E 6EQ (second-hand and remainders sections on first floor)
Alternatively, you can search online second-hand bookshops to compare prices and availability.
Can I drive in the UK?
If you come from a non-EU country, you may drive on your valid foreign licence or International Driving Permit only for a period of 12 months from the date you arrive in the UK (not from the date you start driving).
After this time, you must obtain a provisional licence (you can do this after you have been resident in the UK for six months), pass the theory test and take the practical driving test. Provisional means you must show L plates and drive only with a qualified driver (a person who is over 21 years old and has had a valid licence for at least three years) in the passenger seat. A provisional licence does not allow you to drive on motorways.
You must be covered by motor insurance for the vehicle you are driving.
It is strongly recommended that you buy and read a copy of the Highway Code (available from bookshops or Post Offices). In the UK, there are strict laws against drinking alcohol and driving. Convicted drivers are banned, heavily fined and can be imprisoned.
Detailed information can be found on the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency, http://www.dvla.gov.uk/.
My question hasn't been answered here. Where do I go for help?
For queries relating to your course, you should contact your Faculty Student Support Office.
For issues relating to enrolment, regulations, fees, and scholarships, you should contact the Registry.
For queries related to computing and IT, please see the SOAS IT webpages.
For matters relating to study support or the BLE, please see the Academic Development Directorate webpages.
The International Student and Welfare Advisers offer SOAS students information, advice and practical help on non-academic problems or issues that might be affecting their studies. These include money matters, immigration, accommodation, childcare, welfare benefits, and personal issues. Please see the International Student and Welfare Office for further details.
International students will also be able to find more information about studying at SOAS on the International Admissions pages.
If you have any questions about the Welcome Week events programme, about International Students' Orientation or Research Students' Orientation please email email@example.com.
Where can I get English language support?
IFCELS (International Foundation Courses and English Language Studies) provide in-sessional academic English and study skills courses and one-to-one tutorials non-native English-speaking students throughout the academic year. Please see their webpages for further details: IFCELS (International Foundation Courses and English Language Studies)