General Strike Information

  • When are strikes happening?

Strike action has been called from the 20th of February until the 13th of March (Thursday 20th, Friday 21st, Monday 24th, Tuesday 25th, Wednesday 26th, Monday 2nd, Tuesday 3rd, Wednesday 4th, Thursday 5th, Monday 9th, Tuesday 10th, Wednesday 11th, Thursday 12th and Friday 13th)


  • What is this strike about? 

Read our page on “context of the strikes” to find out more about it. 


  • Will all the SOAS buildings be picketed?

Yes, all SOAS buildings (Main Building, Brunei Gallery, Paul Wembley Wing, Faber Building and Doctoral School) will be picketed. This is because pickets have been called for all SOAS locations where UCU and Unison members may work.


  • What is a picket? What does a picket line look like?

A picket line is a group of striking workers located by the entrance to workplaces. Pickets have a long history as a form of protest during strike actions. Striking workers will use the picket line to talk to people about why they are striking, and encourage people to show support for the strikes by not entering the buildings. People on the picket lines will be SOAS staff.


  • How do I know which lecturers are going on strike and which are not?

Striking members of staff do not have the obligation to let their managers or students know if they are going on strike. However, from our experience, most lecturers and tutors do inform their students prior to the strike as a way of sharing their reasons to engaging in such actions, and to spread awareness about the dispute. Ultimately, lecturers do not want to negatively and disporportionately impact students with their action, so they will try to alleviate some of the distress by letting you know. If you have questions, feel free to email your lecturer, tutors or course convenor, but please keep in mind they are not obliged to let you know.


  • If some lecturers are on strike and some aren’t, will we still be expected to go into uni for non-striking lectures, even if that means crossing the picket line?

Some adjustments have been put in place (such as attendance not being recorded, and deadlines being pushed) to alleviate as much as possible the distress and impact that industrial action by UCU members could have on students. SOAS have confirmed and communicated the following:

"In relation to any assessments due to be handed in during the strike period, we are assessing how best to change deadlines so that hand-in does not take place on any strike day, and the impact of strikes on preparation of assessments is minimised. 
 We are committed to ensuring that examinations relate to topics which have been covered, and that you will not be expected to tackle questions that have not been covered due to strike action. "

Departments must meet agreed standards in providing materials on moodle, and this material must be available for any lectures which do take place during the strike, but that you do not attend. 

You can email your teacher and let them know that you do not feel comfortable crossing the picket line, encouraging them to record the session or reschedule for a non-strike day. However, although our Union policy is to discourage students from crossing the picket line while offering alternatives, ultimately this is a personal decision. Feel free to engage with the strike in whatever ways you feel comfortable and want to.

  • What other institutions locally are also due to be on strike? 

University of London ones: UCL (which includes the IoE); Birkbeck; Queen Mary’s University; Goldsmiths’; Royal Holloway; King’s College London; Imperial College London; City University; Courtauld Institute of Art. Full list of striking institutions around the UK (74 in total!): 


Compensation and fees reimbursement 

  • Are my fees going to be reimbursed for the teaching that is supposed to happen during strikes? How do I get compensation?

Fees will not automatically be reimbursed by SOAS. You have the right to make a complaint and ask for compensation through the Students Complaints Procedure, which can be found here. The School can only consider the impact that has actually occurred so complaints should be made after the strike period is over.

As the Students' Union we will also be mobilising around asking the Office for Students to refund student fees, as they are the regulatory body for universities and thus play a key role in the working conditions and environment of the higher education sector. Keep an eye out for this campaign in our upcoming emails and spaces!


  • I have not paid all of my fee instalments yet - should I withhold payments for now?

In terms of withholding payments of your fees, we strongly discourage doing this by yourself, as that would be under the Financial Suspension Procedures, which can be found here. However, the SU is currently in touch with a group of students who are organising a collective action based on withholding payments. Please get in touch with us if you want to learn more, and we will make sure to cover and advocate for you in front of the School. 


  • Is the Students’ Union going to campaign for fees reimbursement?

We are not collectively campaigning for fees reimbursements or compensation from SOAS. However, we will support individuals or groups of students who wish to make this claim through the Students’ Complaints Procedure in the School. We are also putting together a collective campaign against the Office for Students.


  • Are there precedents for reimbursement/compensation?

Two years ago, none of the complaints for compensation were successful at SOAS. SOAS’ responsibility is to minimise the impact of the strikes as much as possible and they are taking steps to ensure this is happening. However, other institutions give a flat rate of £100 of compensation, and also offered to compensate their students in other ways (such as access to audit other modules) beyond monetary ones. You can read more on this on the OIA website here. And you can check your student consumer rights here.


International students

  • Will my Tier 4 visa be affected by my attendance during strikes?

Attendance will not be recorded during any days affected by strike action. The policy has been approved by the Home Office.

SOAS has confirmed this in writing in an email on the 7th February, and this can also be seen here

Doctoral students

  • Will the Doctoral School also be picketed?

Yes - pickets will be at all SOAS locations where UCU and Unison members may work. There are no exceptions.


Assignments, deadlines and progression

  • Am I going to be able to graduate/pass the year/progress?

SOAS has committed to making sure that the strike action does not cause students to fail. They have committed to a number of actions (set out below) to allow you to pass, graduate or progress as expected. You'll still need to pass your assessments as normal, below are the details of the changes SOAS is making to make sure you have a fair opportunity to do so:

  • Will I be assessed for the topics that were due to be covered during strike days?

SOAS have confirmed that any material that was due to be covered during the strikes period and was not covered will not be part of any examinations or assessments. Any material that was covered may be assessed, materials for these lectures will be made available on moodle.

  • What learning resources will be made available? 

Resources are being made available through moodle, these include reading lists, online learning spaces, lecture recordings from previous years. 

  • How will I be assessed if there are mandatory in-class assessments that have been scheduled on a strike day?

No assessments should be scheduled during strike days. In-class assessments should be re-scheduled or removed. If you have questions about individual assessments you can contact your Programme Convener or Department Manager. If you have any concerns that your programme is holding assessments on strike days you can contact us directly.

  • How will strikes impact exams?

Strikes are due to be over in advance of the exam period, and SOAS have confirmed that material not taught during the strike period will not be in your exams. SOAS are providing some additional study spaces opening hours before exams. If you feel that the strike action has impacted on you individually, for example if this has had an additional impact due to your mental health or disability you may have grounds for mitigating circumstances. For help and advice on the mitigating circumstances policy you can speak to our advice caseworker Susanna, get in touch via 

  • How will strikes impact on assessment deadlines?

SOAS have confirmed extensions to your assessment deadlines for any assesment impacted by the strikes. This is confirmed in their email of 12th February

* No change in assessment deadlines up to Wednesday 19 February (the day before any strike action starts); your deadline will remain the same

* All assessments with deadlines between 20 February and 9 March inclusive have the deadlines extended to Monday 23 March 2020;

* Any assignment with a deadline 10 March and 20 April inclusive have an additional 2 weeks (so, for example, 20 April moves to Monday 4 May);

* Any assignment (including Independent Study Projects (ISPs)) with a deadline between 21 April and 1 May inclusive, moves to Monday 4 May.

You can contact your Department Manager or Programme Convener to confirm the new deadlines for your assessments. You can contact Susanna, our advice caseworker (, if you have worries or concerns about your deadlines.

  • I have a Study Inclusion Plan, what will happen to my deadlines?

Those students with Study Inclusion Plans (SIPs) will continue to have in place the agreed extensions to the new extended deadlines as outlined above. 


SOAS Students’ Union Spaces & Events 


  • Will the SU bar and the shop be closed?

The SU shop will be closed on every strike day, and the bar will be closed during the picket hours but will open at 5pm after the picket line ends. 


  • What will happen to the LGBTQ+/Womxn’s History Month events?

All events on strike days during strike hours have been cancelled. Events after 5pm will proceed, including the LGBTQ+ History Month Late Licence on the 21st of February. Hope to see you there!


  • Can societies still book rooms during the strike days?

We strongly encourage societies to NOT book rooms during strike days and times. Societies may still book rooms during strike days, but we will be clear about the fact that would entail crossing the picket line. 

We’ll be providing information and support to book alternative off-campus spaces, and rooms after 5pm, to enable you to support the striking workers while still carrying on with your activities in the SU. 


  • What about bookings already made - will they be cancelled?

No, bookings already made will not be cancelled. However, we strongly encourage societies to reschedule their events to non-strike days or for after the picket line ends at 5pm on strike days. Please get in touch with Jesse on to do so.


  • How will the strikes affect Varsity?

Varsity still goes on, so look forward to the matches scheduled against London Met on 24th, 25th and 26th February! For those sports teams who need access to their sports material, a key to the sports cupboard in the Faber Building will be kept with an SU or UCU representative on the picket line. You can ask for it and access the cupboard. Alternatively, you can also plan ahead and collect everything the day before, or after the picket line finished at 5pm.




This webpage was last updated on: 05 Mar 2020 16:52