Disclosure date: 27 August 2013
I would like to know how many students at SOAS have been prevented from graduating or enrolling into the next year since September 2011 for reasons not related to academic performance. For each student, I would like to know the exact reason why they have been prevented (e.g. unpaid library fines, unpaid accommodation, etc.)
Four students due to graduate from SOAS in 2013 have had their results withheld due to outstanding debts to SOAS Library. 15 students will not be allowed to re-enrol for the 2013-14 year until they have cleared their debts or reached an agreement with SOAS. Seven of these have fees debts, and six of these have debts to the Access to Learning Fund (it is expected that these six will come to an arrangement with the Welfare Office before the start of the 2013-14 year).
The information for previous years is not readily accessible as no central record is kept of these matters beyond the time when debts are being chased. It might be possible to extract this data from records held around the School, but this would involve identifying which students had a debt in those years, and checking their student files to identify whether they had been allowed to graduate or enrol. It might well be necessary to retrieve records from other departments. At the end of each academic year there can be as many as 150 students with a debt to their name. Assuming it would take 3 hours to establish a list of students who had a debt in those years, and then 4 minutes to check each student’s file and make any associated enquiries, it is likely that it would take longer than 18 hours to provide this information for 2010-11 and 2011-12. Section 12 of the Freedom of Information Act allows public authorities to refuse requests where the cost exceeds the appropriate limit. The appropriate limit for SOAS is £450, and staff time must be calculated on the basis of £25 per hour. 4 minutes x 300 students = 20 hours + 3 hours of initial research = 23 hours. 23 hours x £25 = £575, ie in excess of the appropriate limit. Even then, it is not possible to be certain that we would be in a position to answer your request in relation to previous years. Therefore this aspect of your request is being refused under section 12(1) of the Freedom of Information Act.