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 2020 Starters: To accept your offer and RSVP for the mandatory welcome week  from Monday 28 September - 2 October 2020 please go to Study Abroad/Exchange Orientation RSVP September 2020.

January Starters 2021: To accept your offer and RSVP for the mandatory orientation day which will take place on Sunday 10 January 2021.  Please go to Study Abroad/Exchange Orientation RSVP January 2021.

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

Step 2 - Student Visa Preparation

COVID-19 Visa Update

Nationals of a country within the EU, European Economic Area (EEA) or Switzerland do not need to apply for a visa or entry clearance to enter the UK before 11pm on 31 December 2020. If you are an EU/EEA national who is resident in the UK before this deadline, you can apply through the UK's EU Settlement Scheme for EU Settled or Pre-Settled Status which means you will not require a visa to live or study in the UK. If you are an EU/EEA/Swiss national and plan to arrive in the UK after this deadline you will need to consider your visa arrangemners accordingly. Students travelling to the UK to study for 6 months or more will need to obtain a Student visa in advance of their travel to the UK, students travelling to the UK to study for 6 months or less will be able to travel to the UK as a visitor from 9am on 1st December 2020.

Students coming from the full academic year and who are overseas nationals (outside of the EU/EEA) will require a Student visa.

Students coming for one term should check the UKVI guidance to see if they need to apply for a short-term study visa in advance using the UKVI Visa Checker. 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 non-refundable travel 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 Student Advice and Wellbeing team can provide information and advice on immigration matters:

Student Visa

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 Student 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 Student 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 Student visa allows you to work, part-time, paid or unpaid.
  • You may enter the UK up to 1 month before the start of term.
  • To obtain a Student visa, please begin by requesting a Confirmation of Acceptance for Studies (CAS) number by completing the Study Abroad/Exchange CAS Request Form (can be downloaded from the 'Downloads' box on the right hand side of this page), and sending it along with a copy of your passport and previous UK student visas (if applicable) to the email address on the form.  
  • You will then need to apply for your visa. 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 Student visa.
  • Further information regarding the online application can be found in the SOAS Visa Application Guidance

Short-term Study Visa/Visit 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.
  • Students coming under this programme are not covered by the National Health Service and are urged to carry their own personal travel/health insurance.
  • More information on applying for a short term visa can be found in the SOAS Short Term Visa Guidance.

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 Dinwiddy House is the only SOAS housing that provides a term 1 only or terms 2/3 only contract.  If you choose to stay elsewhere, you may be required to take out a full year contract and then find another student to take over your room.

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 team.

Step 4 - Prepare for Arrival 

Book your travel

September Starters: We recommend that you arrive on either by the Saturday or Sunday before term starts to be ready to enjoy Welcome Week.  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 the Saturday before term starts to be ready to attend the mandatory orientation on the Sunday before term starts.  Please check the term dates prior to arrival.


Avoid booking flights that arrive in the UK via Dublin as you will not go through UK immigration when you arrive and therefore will not receive the correct student stamp in your passport.  This means that we cannot enrol you as a student at SOAS and will require you to leave the UK and return (not via Eurostar) to ensure you have the right to remain in the UK as a short term student.

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.
  3. Make sure you have used the correct ECTS points value.
  4. Scan and and e-mail the completed Learning Agreement directly to
  5. The Study Abroad team will review this document, sign 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 Financial Sponsorship Form (msword; 13kb)  , 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.  Exchange or Erasmus students do not complete this form.

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!
  • A change of clothes: It's useful to have a clean set of clothes in case your luggage doesn't make it to London at the same time as you do!
  • 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, SOAS offer letter, accommodation confirmation etc 
  • Clothes! You don't need to bring your whole wardrobe as we have lots of shops in London.
  • 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.