Privacy policy relating to the SOAS website

Who are we and what do we do?

In this notice, the "Website" means the SOAS website at "SOAS" means SOAS University of London (School of Oriental and African Studies).

SOAS is committed to protecting your privacy and developing technology that gives you a safe online experience. This privacy notice applies to the Website and governs data collection and usage.

The Website is operated by SOAS University of London (called SOAS in this agreement), who are situated at 10 Thornhaugh Street, Russell Square, London WC1H 0XG.

If you have any queries about the information in this notice, or about the way SOAS processes your data while you visit the website, please contact our Data Protection Officer by email at, or by telephone at (+44) 020 7898 4817.

What personal data do we collect?

Personal Data which you provide

We collect and store information from visitors to the Website when you complete online forms, make online payments, participate in discussion forums or communicate with us by email.
When you make a payment through the SOAS Online Store, we will collect and store bank card details. The University is PCI DSS compliant. We do not store credit/debit card details after authorisation.

Personal data collected automatically

When you visit SOAS’s Website, we will automatically receive and store certain types of information on our web servers.

We will keep anonymised details of your IP (Internet Protocol) address, browser type and operating system. We will also keep a record of the pages you have visited on our Website. Collectively this data is known as “web server logs”.

We only use this information to analyse activity of visitors to our Website and to improve the performance of the Website.

We also use "cookies" and "webbugs", which store information on your computer or mobile device based on your browsing experience, and allow us to improve your experience on our Website the next time you visit.

We aim to improve the website user experience by using Microsoft Clarity. We capture data about your movement across the website and interactions with the website through cookies, and this helps us analyse user behaviour and improve site navigation and content discovery. If you opt-in to analytics and performance cookies, we and Microsoft can collect and use this data.

For more information on what cookies we use, how we use them, and how you can remove them, please look at our Cookies and privacy page.

How is my data used?

We use the personal data collected through your use of the website for the following purposes:

  • Administering your request for information about studying at SOAS
  • Administering your request to attend open days
  • Processing your online application for short courses and foundation courses
  • Supporting your application for accommodation to third party providers and intercollegiate halls
  • To provide you with newsletters, information about events or other content you have asked us to send you
  • Administering payment of fees for short courses, or discretionary payments such as transcript requests through the online store
  • Receiving philanthropic donations through our online giving form
  • Customising future use of the Website
  • Improving the performance of the Website

SOAS will process the data you provide for enquiries about study or applications to courses in accordance with our Course Enquirers, Applicants or Offer-holders Privacy Notice. We will process data you provide for open days and other events because it is in our mutual interests to stay in touch about arrangements for the event and to record attendance.

When you apply for a short course at SOAS, you will need to provide some personal data to support your application. We will process this data because there is a legitimate interest in the School managing the application efficiently. If you apply and are offered a place on a
course, then SOAS will process the personal data because we are taking steps to enter into a contract at your request.

We will process your personal data when you make a donation through our online giving page in accordance with our Alumni, Supporter and Donor Privacy Notice.

SOAS monitors usage of the website through cookies where this processing is necessary to support the legitimate interests of the School and visitors to the Website, insofar as it enables the School to improve the performance of the Website and optimise the experience for each visitor.
If you opt-in to receiving newsletters or other promotional material by email or text, we process your data with your consent. You have the right to object to our processing of the data you provide us with at any time. You will generally be able to exercise this right by unsubscribing from emails or turning off cookies in your browser settings. If you are not able to do so, please contact our Data Protection Officer at

What information do we share, and why?

SOAS will share personal data you provide through your use of the Website with third parties where you have given us your explicit consent, where it is necessary to provide you with a service, or where we are required to do so by law.

For instance, SOAS uses external companies to provide customer relationship management systems for individuals who express an interest in studying at SOAS, and out alumni community. If you provide information through the website, for instance by registering for an open day, your information will be shared with the provider of our student recruitment system to the extent that they are a data processor, which means they will only hold and use the data in accordance with our strict instructions.

Where necessary we could be required by law to share your personal with regulatory bodies or law enforcement agencies, or we could be ordered to disclose your personal data by the courts.

Will you share my data internationally?

We will only share your personal data with countries outside the European Economic Area when it is strictly necessary and in accordance with the following legal safeguards:

  • The transfer is allowed because the country in which the recipient is based has an ‘adequacy decision’ from the European Commission, which means they give equivalent protection to personal data as EU law. This includes US companies certified by Privacy Shield
  • We have your explicit consent
  • We use standard contractual clauses adopted by the European Commission to safeguard the transfer and protect data subjects’ legal rights and access to legal remedies
  • The transfer is necessary for an important reason of public interest

Third party websites

Some resources provided by SOAS for members of our community link to external websites, who will have their own policies informing you what information will be collected and how and why it will be used.

SOAS encourages you to review the privacy notices of all external websites you choose to link to from the Website so that you can understand how those websites collect, use and share your information.

Any third-party sites that you can access through the Website are not covered by SOAS's Website Privacy Notice and we accept no responsibility or liability for these sites.

You do not need to sign in or create a profile to use and navigate SOAS’s Website

How long will your data be kept?

The length of time your data will be held by SOAS when you use our Website depends on the purpose for which your data has been collected.

If you have applied for a course and are unsuccessful, your data will be retained for one year. If your application is successful, your data will be retained in accordance with your student record, which is six years from the end of the academic year in which your relationship with the School ends.

If you make a donation to the School via the Website, the factual instance of your donation will be recorded and retained permanently in our donor and supporter database, otherwise your data will be deleted six years after the end of the tax year in which your donation was made.

If you apply for third party halls of residence through our Website, your data will be held for the length of the contract plus 3 months.

If you pay for a course through our Online Store, the financial transaction data including your personal data will be retained for 6 years from the end of the financial year in which the service or product was purchased.

What are your rights?

You have the following rights under Data Protection Law. SOAS must respond to any request you make in pursuance of your rights within one month of receipt.

  • Right to be informed: This notice was prepared to support your right to know how and why your personal data is processed by SOAS.
  • Right of access: You have the right to access a copy of your personal data. A guide on exercising your right of access is available here
  • Right to correct data: You have the right to have your data corrected or updated.
  • Right to restriction: You have the right to ask SOAS to restrict processing of your personal data. If we restrict your data, we will not act on it, but will hold it for the purpose of labelling it as restricted.
  • Right to erasure: You have the right to ask for your personal data to be erased.
  • Right to object: You have the right to object to our processing of your personal data.
  • Right to portability: You have the right to ask SOAS to send you a copy of your data in an open source, machine readable format for the purpose of transferring it to another IT environment, or to ask SOAS to make the transfer directly.
  • Right not to be subject to automated decision-making, including profiling: You have the right to not be subject to a decision made solely by automated means which has legal effects on you or other similar significant effects.

Who regulates the use of personal data?

If you think SOAS is processing your data unlawfully, you have the right to lodge a complaint with the Information Commissioner’s Office, which is the UK data protection regulator. More information can be found on the Information Commissioner’s Office website.

Updates to this notice

We will review this notice on an annual basis, and will make updates as necessary to reflect any changes to the type of personal data that we process and/or the way in which it is processed.

This page was created in September 2007, and last updated in June 2020.