SOAS University of London

Study Abroad / Exchange Programme at SOAS

Steps for New Study Abroad/Exchange Students

Step 1 - Confirm Attendance & RSVP for Orientation
Step 2 - Student Visa Preparation
Step 3 - Find accommodation 
Step 4 - Prepare for Arrival
Step 5 - Packing 

Step 1 - Confirm Attendance & RSVP for Orientation

September 2018 Starters: To accept your offer and RSVP for the mandatory welcome week  from Monday 23 September - 27 September 2019 please go to Study Abroad/Exchange Orientation RSVP September 2019

January Starters 2019: To accept your offer and RSVP for the mandatory orientation day which will take place on Sunday 6 January 2019.  Please go to Study Abroad/Exchange Orientation RSVP January 2019.

PLEASE NOTE: The above links are for Study Abroad / Exchange students only, NOT for SOAS degree students.

Step 2 - Student Visa Preparation

If you are a citizen or national of a country outside of the European Economic Area (e.g. USA, Japan, Korea, China, India etc) you are subject to immigration control in the UK and may require either a Tier 4 or Short-term Study Visa.  Please check the UKVI website in the first instance.

Nationals of a country within the European Economic Area (EEA) or Switzerland do not need to apply for a visa or entry clearance to enter the UK

It is very important that you check your visa requirements and allow enough time for the application procedure as it can take several weeks.  Do not book a non-refundable air-ticket until you know you have your visa and passport and make sure you have everything you need to show in your hand luggage with you when you travel.  

At SOAS, staff in the Students Advice and Wellbeing team can provide information and advice on immigration matters:

Tier 4 General Student

If you are subject to immigration control in the UK and are coming to the UK for longer than 6 months, you will require a Tier 4 visa. If you are coming for less than 6 months but would like to have the opportunity to undertake paid or unpaid work, then you will also need to apply for a Tier 4 visa.  Please note that we do not recommend this as students intending to work may need to apply for additional paperwork once in the UK which can take quite a long time.

  • The Tier 4 General visa allows you to work, part-time, paid or unpaid.
  • You may enter the UK 1 month before the start of term.
  • No matter your country of origin, you will need to apply for the Tier 4 General Student visa at your local embassy.  
  • To request a Tier 4 visa, please begin by requesting a Confirmation of Acceptance for Studies (CAS) number using the Study Abroad/Exchange CAS Request Form, a copy of your passport and a copy of previous UK student visas (if applicable). The SOAS Admissions Team will then ask you to complete and return the CAS form.  You will then need to provide the UK Border Agency with a number of documents, please follow the instructions on the UKVI website. Note: if you are attending a pre-sessional programme, make sure that you have paid for your course before completing your CAS request form.
  • Only request a CAS number from SOAS if you are certain you are going to apply for the Tier 4 visa.
  • *New* - Immigration Health Surcharge (£150) must now be paid on top of your Tier 4 visa fee. Please see our the Immigration Health Surcharge Guidance document for information about the surcharge and how to pay it. 
  • *New* - UKVI will issue a 30 day vignette in lieu of your visa if you make your application and are from certain countries before 31 July 2015 and will be used for all applicants applying after 31 July 2015. If you are issued this vignette, you will need to collect a biometric residence permit (BRP) from a post office within ten days of arriving in the UK.  If you entered either of the SOAS Residence Halls or the SOAS main address, you will need to collect your Biometric Residence Permit from the Kings Cross Post Office on Euston Road. The Kings Cross Post Office is a short walk from the Russell Square campus.  
  • Further information regarding the online application can be found in the SOAS Visa 4 UK Guidance
Short-term Study Visa

Some students will require a Short-term Study Visa, depending on their nationality.

  • The Short-term Study Visa means that you cannot work, paid or unpaid.  
  • You can arrive at any time.  However, remember that you must complete your whole period of study (i.e. Term 1 or Terms 2&3) within 6 months of your arrival date and you cannot extend your stay, nor can you switch to another visa category from this category.   
  • You do not need a CAS number for the Short-term Study Visa category.
  • To apply, you will need a copy of your Offer Letter (emailed to you as an attachment) and Financial Documents. More information can be found on UKVI webpages.  Depending on your nationality you may not have to apply in advance and can apply at the airport, but please check the webpages for confirmation.
  • NB: If you are a visa national, you may need to apply for the Short-term Study Visa at your local embassy. More information can be found on the UKVI website.
  • Students coming under this programme are not covered by the National Health Service and are urged to carry their own personal travel/health insurance.

Step 3 - Find accommodation 

Most Study Abroad and Exchange students stay in SOAS accommodation, however students are also welcome to find their own housing.  All options are close to SOAS by foot or a short Tube ride away, with excellent facilities.  Most student residences are self-catered (no meals provided) and many have en-suite bathrooms.  

All SOAS accommodation options can be found on our Accommodation webpages, and more detailed instructions on how to apply will be sent out once we receive a student's application.  Please note that Term 1 only or Term 2/3 only students may only choose Dinwiddy House due to requiring a shorter contract.

University of London Intercolleagiate housing is only available for full academic year students.

Study Abroad / Exchange students are giving priority by Sanctuary Housing (Dinwiddy/Paul Robeson House) but we recommend making the housing application as soon as possible to avoid disappointment.

Please do not apply for SOAS housing until you have received specific instructions from the Study Abroad / Exchange Coordinator.

Step 4 - Prepare for Arrival 

Book your travel

September Starters: We recommend that you arrive on either Saturday 23 September 2017 or Sunday 24 September 2017 to be ready to enjoy Welcome Week 2017.  Welcome week is for all SOAS students but there will be specific (and mandatory!) sessions for Study Abroad/Exchange students.

January Starters: We recommend that you arrive (at the latest!) on Saturday 6 January 2018 to be ready to attend the mandatory orientation on Sunday 7 January as Term 2 begins on Monday 8 January.

Finalise Erasmus Learning Agreements

Erasmus students attending SOAS via the Erasmus European Exchange Framework will need to finalise their Learning Agreement for Studies first with their home university (Sending Institution) and then with SOAS (Receiving Institution).  Please see the Sample Erasmus Learning Agreement for information on how to complete Page 1 and 3, as it relates to SOAS as the Receiving Institution.  

  1. Complete the relevant sections of the Learning Agreement in coordination with your home university/Erasmus Office.
  2. See the Sample Erasmus Learning Agreement to complete the 'Receiving Institution' information on page 1 and the 'Responsible person in the receiving institution' on page 3 (relevant sections highlighted in yellow).
  3. Scan and and e-mail the completed Learning Agreement directly to
  4. The Study Abroad Coordinator will review this document and sign it and return it to you.    

Please note that modules listed on the Learning Agreement are still subject to availability.

Study Abroad Financial Sponsor Letter

If tuition fees are being paid for by a students' Home Institution or Study Abroad Provider, then this institution should use the Study Abroad Financial Sponsor Letter Template, adjust the highlighted sections, save as 'Name of your Institution, Study Abroad Financial Sponsor' and send via e-mail to  The institution will then be directly invoiced by the SOAS Fees team for tuition fees.  We require this every year, even if an institution is regular partner.

Step 5 - Packing

Linens (bedding and towels) 

In most cases you will be responsible for your own linens, so please check with your accommodation provider to see if they provide bedding (duvet, sheets, pillows etc) or if you are able to order these in advance (at an extra cost).  If you decide to buy your bedding when you arrive, please be mindful of the time you arrive in London as not all the shops will be open late at night.  You might consider the following shops (locations all within walking distance of SOAS) as they provide inexpensive options: Argos, Primark or TK Maxx .

Hand luggage
  • Valuables (phone, wallet etc).
  • Passport (containing visa if applicable).
  • SOAS offer letter and/or CAS .
  • Financial evidence.
  • Address of UK accommodation and confirmation of contract.
  • Tickets/Online flight booking.
  • UK pound sterling for any initial costs (taxi fares, food etc.) and in case there are issues with your credit/debit card.  Be wary of carrying large amounts of money!
  • Umbrella!
Hold luggage
  • Label your luggage with your details in English.
  • Check your baggage allowance, exceeding this could be extremely costly.
  • Photocopies of all your important documents (passport, visa etc). 
  • Clothes and shoes.  SOAS is close to busy shopping areas so you don't need to pack your entire wardrobe.
  • Electrical items, including several travel adaptors.  Make sure you check the voltage as it may be different to your home country.
  • Any other personal items


You don't need to bring everything you own! You might want to leave room in your suitcase for things you'll want to bring back home.

Label your luggage with your details in English.

Check your baggage allowance; exceeding this could be extremely costly.