SOAS University of London

SOAS University of London to end outsourcing to private contractors

4 August 2017

SOAS University of London is to stop outsourcing its core support services to private contractors from September 2018, SOAS Director Baroness Amos announced today.

It means all staff in central facilities teams will be directly employed by the university, with the full workforce put on equal terms and conditions.

It accelerates by 12 months existing plans to self-deliver cleaning by 2019 - and makes SOAS one of the first UK universities to end outsourcing and self-deliver its core services.

SOAS has informed its two current private contractors Elior and Bouygues it will end their current contracts by the start of the 2018/19 academic year.

SOAS Director Baroness Amos said:

“This is a right decision for the institution.

“We already guarantee the London Living Wage for all our staff whether contracted externally or not.

“Now putting our whole workforce on same terms and conditions reflects our values of social justice and equality.

“Our support staff help to make the university tick and we could not deliver on our teaching and research agenda or offer an excellent student experience without them.

“Our staff and students have campaigned passionately for this. It has been a challenging journey at times but they have enabled us to get to this point.

“We look forward to a strong partnership with trade unions over the coming 12 months as this is vital to a smooth transition and ensuring we make this change a success.”

Today’s announcement sets out:

-    all existing outsourced staff employed on full-time, part-time and casual contracts will be directly employed by SOAS from the start of the 2018/19 academic year. There are more than 120 staff currently employed in outsourced cleaning; catering; conferencing and events hospitality; portering; security; mechanical and electrical services; postroom; helpdesk and reception teams.

-   all staff will be guaranteed equal pay and conditions to current SOAS employees, including sick pay, pensions and holiday entitlement. All staff working at SOAS, outsourced or directly employed, are already paid the London Living Wage or above (currently set at £9.75 an hour).

-    SOAS will set out a carefully phased 12 month project plan and timetable in September, following detailed consultation with key partners.

-    Elior (which manages catering and hospitality teams) has been informed its current one-year contract will not be renewed from September 2018. SOAS will be consulting on improvements to the catering service alongside this, as agreed with trade unions in July.

-    Bouygues (which manages all other core support services impacted) has been informed its contract will end in September 2018 - two years into the current five year contract. The exact end date will be subject to future commercial agreement.

In addition, SOAS will be assessing a series of additional, highly specialised services which would be challenging to self-deliver. This includes lift maintenance; waste management; fire safety and protection; and independent inspections and testing required by law.

The University will keep staff involved fully involved throughout the process, working closely with both companies to enable a smooth transition over the next 12 months.

It will also be working in partnership with Unison and University and College Union at national, regional and local level to ensure the changes are successful.

SOAS website with more detail on the project:


On Tuesday 12 September 2017, The Guardian published an opinion piece in relation to this announcement.