SOAS University of London

SOAS published accounts for 2019/20 shows positive and sustained improvements

1 December 2020

SOAS has published its accounts for financial year 2019/20 showing the range of positive action it has been undertaking to respond to extremely challenging conditions in the face of the global pandemic and global recession which has had a strong impact on higher education

Planned and sustained action taken by SOAS has meant the institution has successfully moved from an operational deficit of £3.8m in 2018-19 to a deficit of £0.9m in 2019-20, with an operational surplus forecast for 2020-21. Please note, these deficit figures exclude restructuring costs which the Board judges allows the most meaningful comparison of operational performance year on year.

SOAS’s plans reflect in particular the successful ongoing implementation of its transformation and change project to put the School on a stable footing, by controlling costs, cash management and seeking to grow our income.  This has meant hard decisions, but the bulk of the transformation and change process has already been implemented successfully. 

The position also reflects the hard and successful work by SOAS’s academic staff and our professional services staff to recruit and retain students. After a successful confirmation and clearing process in summer 2020, the School is projecting to generate a surplus on unrestricted activities in 2020/21

As a result of all of this, SOAS is in a stronger position to generate income to invest back into the school. Plans can now start to target investment at SOAS’s strategic priorities across teaching, research and services. Under the new leadership of Adam Habib from January 2021, there will be a focussed drive on achieving positive outcomes, attracting high calibre staff and students and ensuring people continue to be proud to be part of SOAS.

In her foreword to the accounts, Marie Stauton the Chair of Trustees said:

“This is a moment for SOAS to step up. Covid-19 has shown, yet again, how deep social, health and economic inequalities are across the world. It shows the scale and pace of the challenges facing us all: the climate change; global recession; and fourth industrial age.

“SOAS rose to the financial challenges of Covid through a wholesale review of our curriculum to update and revise what we offer, looking at improvements in the way we deliver all our courses and modules, and putting this in place in rapid measure for September 2020. This enabled us to carry through a major restructure of our academic departments and professional services – which the Trustees agreed to in May 2020.

“Our Transformation & Change project has sustained our academic departments and put new professional services directorates in place from 1 October 2020, and SOAS now has a solid platform for the new Director. We have reviewed our subject and research disciplines, based on vision statements and business plans drawn up by each Head of Department.

“We’ve made tough decisions, so we are no longer running to stand still – and the Trustees believe SOAS’s best days are still ahead. The priority for the Trustees and new Director will be establishing a new vision, objective and strategy for the School. We want to set out a bold, radical and progressive agenda in the next 12 months, working across the whole community.”