SOAS University of London

SOAS spring term - 1 January 2021 Covid-19 update

1 January 2021

The below update was emailed to all students on 1 January and contains the latest Government advice issued at that time.

Please note, that in the current cirumstances SOAS advice may change. We will continue to update students directly as the situation changes.

You may be aware that the UK Government have made announcements earlier this week in relation to the return of schools and colleges.  We have now received updates and briefing from the Department for Education in relation to plans for universities, and last night received the government letter to students. 

Start of term and face to face activities

In relation to universities, there was already a staged return in place, and we had made clear to all of the SOAS community that teaching from the start of term (11 January) would be accessed online and any face to face activities being offered by academic departments would not start until the week beginning Monday 25 January at the earliest. 

The announcements made this week suggest that there will be a review on 18 January by the government. This may result in changes to the existing plan. We will of course keep colleagues, and the student community, updated on this.

We can reconfirm - as we have long-planned - that teaching and resources needed for study, and assessments, can be accessed remotely, so that all students, including those who are not based in London, can continue to study on their programme successfully.

Asymptomatic testing 

Testing continues to be available at Student Central from Tuesday 5 January in partnership with the University of London.  Students who are in London already or who return during January are expected to take two tests before accessing any university facilities in person. (These tests are also available for our staff who need to come on to campus.)  

Government advice is that you should get tested either before you travel or as soon as you can when you return to campus or access university facilities. Testing everyone will be a key tool to reduce the risk of transmission and outbreaks of Covid-19 at the start of term. Government also advise that if you do not get tested, you should self-isolate for 10 days, to reduce the risk of transmission between home and university. 

Tests at Student Central can be booked here:

Opening of buildings

In relation to opening of SOAS buildings and access to in-person services - such as study space and click and collect Library services, the Government requires us to offer support to students living in London and to provide access to facilities for those whose living circumstances make this necessary.

We are therefore confirming our plans for re-opening buildings from 4 January. Government advises that physical access to space and services should only be for those who need to access for the specific reasons set out in the minister's letter, including students without access to suitable study space, and those such as international students who have remained in accommodation over Christmas. 

Campus provision continues to be planned as Covid-safe and with measures in place to reduce risk of transmission, in line with official guidance.

International students

International students are being advised to delay their travel to the UK, but if this is not possible, they will have to follow the government quarantine requirements on arrival. For those who do need to travel, international arrivals must complete a passenger locator form on arrival in the UK, and passengers travelling from a country not on the exemption (travel corridor) list will need to self-isolate in their accommodation for 10 days. The tests at Student Central are available to all our students.