Your Idea's, Forums and Preferenda

At SOAS Students’ Union, representing students' views is at the heart of everything we do. Students get to have their say over what the SU works on by voting for a Co-President that is passionate about the same things as them and by setting Union Priorities, which are objectives the SU is mandated to deliver. These priorities are decided by students and can cover a range of different things.

How it works:

Your Ideas

Your Ideas are an opportunity for students to propose anything, from big structure changes, or quick wins. They can call for changes within SOAS SU, SOAS, and beyond. They can be used as a call for action on a particular issue, or relate to communicating an ideological standpoint.


Ideas must answer the following questions:

Facts: What is the issue you're trying to address and what do we already know about the issue?

Impact: How does this issue affect students and in what way?

Response: What would you like the students' union to do to address the issue and how can we take it forward?


Ideas for change must be no longer than 600 words. 


Once an idea for change is submitted it will be reviewed and published for up to one month. Students can then vote for the ideas that they think are most important. Once an idea reaches 25 votes it will be taken to a Union Forum. If it is decided that the idea falls within ordinary business the idea can be actioned without moving forward to a Union Forum. 


Ideas Portal

Ideas will be marked as 'passed' if they fall within ordinary course of business and will be actioned straight away, or if they have been taken forward to a Union Forum. You can find out which ideas have become SU mandates here. 


Union Forums

Union Forums are an opportunity for students to discuss and develop ideas for change. Once an idea reaches the threshold it will be taken to the next termly Union Forum. There are three Union Forums, each looking at a different types of ideas for change. 

  1. Influencing SOAS – for ideas that relate to the Institution and its provision
  2. SU Operations – for ideas that relate to the services of the Union, including clubs, societies and commercial services.
  3. SU Campaigns – for ideas that relate to the wider campaigning role of the Union and its membership, to influence the world beyond SOAS.

During a Union Forum students can suggest amendments to the idea and propose alternative solutions. Once discussed at a Union Forum the ideas will move forward to Preferenda.

In order for an idea to be discussed at a Union Forum the student who submitted the idea must attend, or nominate someone to attend in their place. If they do not attend the idea will be referred to the next Union Forum.


A preferenda allows all students to vote for which solutions they would like to see become a Union Priority. During a preferenda students can vote in order of preference. There are three preferenda per year, with the first being used to decide the remits of the Preferenda Portfolio Officer roles. The remaining two referendums – one held in the spring term and one in the summer term – will decide the priorities that the SU will campaign on.

During a preferenda there is an opportunity for students to campaign for a particular idea/solution, they can do this by asking their friends to vote for a specific option. There will also be an opportunity for students to submit a manifesto, a document outlining why students should vote for one of the solutions. These manifesto's will then be published for students to view when deciding which option to vote for. 

Preferenda's are regulated by the Preferenda Rules, these are published prior to a Preferenda taking place and are overseen by the Governance Sub-Committee and Union Deputy Returning Officer. 

Your Ideas

Back to list
  • 23 score
    31 voters

    Support potential UCU marking and assessment boycott

      Amidst the #UCUrising dispute, a marking and assessment boycott (MAB) presents a strong tool of leverage for university workers to shift the employers on the issues of pay, workload, pay gaps and casualisation. As the Student Union, we make clear our support for such disruptive action, and actively engage in its implementation, building solidarity with university workers (academic and non-academic) towarsw a different, non-marketised higher education.


      Despite the days of strike action, UCEA - the bosses’ club of higher education institutions has still failed to present any serious offer to HE workers’ unions. Intensified and escalated action is evidently necessary - to follow through on the efforts already made, and commit to shifting the functioning of universities away from profit, towards the purpose of a liberating educational process for all involved. Due to anti-union laws, workers are currently having to reballot to take further action into the final term + summer. The success of this ballot is vital for the dispute.


      As the SU has long stated, staff working conditions are our learning conditions. Our education has always relied on the efforts of workers across the university, we simply do not learn without them. Neglecting the causes of this dispute, and missing the chance to shift the balance of power back to students and staff is not an option. The insufficient strength or disruption of past strikes has failed to achieve necessary change, causing perpetual strikes, whilst staff continue to be burnt out, overworked, with our education clearly suffering as a result. A strong course of action this year could not absolutely rule out future strikes, but can create the leverage to win significant improvements for students and workers. Not only does a MAB put huge pressure on university management, but also points the way to a better form of education, where assessment is not punitive - we all know the stress generated by exam season, and especially the unfairness of shifting exam formats through COVID.


      Carrying out a successful MAB will require solidarity and coordination across the university community. The student union can play an important role here - informing students about the reasons for it, reassuring students about the consequences, defending students from any retaliation from management. Fundamentally, university workers must know that we back them 100%. We should organise more forums to discuss strategies in the dispute , social events to build community, protests to pressure management and spread the word amongst any students who are less informed. We should also take inspiration from the growing number of workers taking strike action in different sections, particularly other education unions - we should invite representatives to campus events to share experience and build common strategies.
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