If you are considering changing your course as you feel that the current course is not right for you, seek one-to- one advice and guidance support from the Student Advice Centre or the course administrator. Taking action and making a change can be a really positive step.
However, you should be aware of all your options and of any issues that might arise. This way you can make an informed choice, whether you decide to stay on your course or change to another.
The first thing to do if you are thinking about changing course is to do the relevant research. You should find out more about the remainder of your course (in case it develops to suit your needs), ask tutors how to resolve any academic issues you may be experiencing and find out more about alternative courses or future careers paths.
Please remember that non-attendance does not count as notice of your plans to leave. It is important that you keep in touch with staff on your current course, even if you think you don’t want to do it anymore. Your attendance can affect your student finance, references and qualifications, all of which could be important for your next steps.
How do I change course?
If you make the decision to change your area of study, you need to speak to the course leader of the subject you want to transfer to. Provided that there’s a vacancy, they will assess your suitability based on your previous study, commitment and qualifications, and make a decision accordingly.
Some important issues that you need to consider:
- level of tuition fees you need to pay
- when it would be suitable to leave your course
- how to apply for the course (internal application)
- whether you need a new reference
- at what point you should begin the new course. On several occasions depending on the material covered and modules passed you may be able to transfer into the 2nd year. Remember that changing course have an effect on your student finance. This effect varies according to individual circumstances. It depends on your present course, your stage of study and the course you have chosen to transfer to.
If you transfer to another course at the same university within the same academic year, Student Finance England can usually carry forward your financial support without any ramifications, but you must keep them up to date with any changes.
If you transfer to another course and start again at the beginning of a new academic year, the situation is more complicated.
SFE offer their services for the length of your course plus one additional year, and count a single day of study as a year of support; so if you start again, you will have used up one year of that support and cannot claim money back for the year that you didn’t complete.
For example, in the case of a three-year course, you could complete one year of study and still be entitled to three further years of support. However, if you transfer during your second year and begin another course from the beginning (totaling five years of study), you will have to self-fund part of it.
What are the criteria for transferring to a different course?
You must read carefully the university regulations departmental approval before completing the application form to transfer course. there may be financial and visa implications of transferring to a different course
If you’d like to transfer to a different course, it may be possible. You could study for a different award, change to a new specialism or an alternative course within your department. It’s also possible to transfer to a course in a different department. Whatever your aim, you’ll need to know how to go about it. You can find out all you need to know here.
Please read the information on these pages carefully before completing a transfer application form so your request can be considered and the appropriate decision can be reached.
Dropping from the university, interruption/ Suspension of studies
If you’re thinking about dropping out of university or changing your course, consider your options wisely before making this big decision
What are the main reasons for dropping out of university?
It’s difficult to know whether undergraduate study is right for you until you’ve experienced it first-hand. Many first-year students have second thoughts on their decision to go to university for a number of reasons:
- Career – you’ve made serious reconsiderations about the career you’d like to pursue, and the course you’re enrolled on is no longer suitable.
- Course – you’re struggling to cope with the workload or aren’t being challenged enough, you don’t respond well to the teaching and assessment methods or it’s simply not what you expected.
- Institution – the university you’ve chosen is not what you expected. You may experience difficulties of adaptation to a rural area or even live in a big city where you feel the anonymity and loneliness.
- Financial – you can’t afford tuition or accommodation fees, living costs are out of your budget.
- Personal – you have a disability or health issues that are making university life difficult to cope with, you’ve suffered a bereavement at home or you’re finding it difficult to balance your studies with other commitments.
Leaving the course in the middle of the year
It’s not obligatory for you to complete a degree course you’ve started. However, before you officially state your intention to leave, you should continue attending your lectures and seminars. If you change your mind and decide to stay, you’ll regret missing classes and may suffer in terms of handing in assignments and sitting exams.
As you consider the alternatives, it’s worth talking through your options with a student support officer or careers adviser. They can discuss the pros and cons of changing or leaving your course, and help you to come up with a viable career plan for once you’ve left.
If you decide to leave, you’ll need to meet with your personal tutor to inform them of your plans. You’ll then need to obtain and fill out the necessary withdrawal forms provided by your faculty office. Only when these have been submitted and approved can you arrange an official leaving date with your department.
Once this date is set, you’ll need to write to the student finance authorities to formalise your intentions with them. They’ll get in touch with you further down the line to discuss the financial side of dropping out of university.
If you’re leaving in your second or third year, it’s worth checking with your department to see if the time you’ve already put into your course makes you eligible for any certificates or diplomas. Certificate of Higher Education (1 year of study) or Higher National Diploma
(2 years of study)
What are the effects of this?
When you withdraw from your studies, you’ll be liable to pay either a percentage or the entirety of your tuition fees, and you’ll stop being eligible for maintenance payments. You will also no longer qualify for student accommodation, and you’ll have to start paying council tax.
If you’re leaving university for your career prospects, you’ll need to think about what you’d like to do next. Some professions will require a degree, but you’ll be able to enter others through alternative routes. Be sure to carry out research before quitting your course.
Employers shouldn’t view your decision negatively, providing you can explain how your decision is a positive step towards achieving your goals.
Repaying your student loan.
You’ll lose your entitlement to tuition fee and maintenance loan payments with immediate effect when you leave your course.
You’ll be required to pay the tuition fees for all, or part, of the year you’re in. Student Finance will assess your financial situation and send you details of the loan amounts available to you and those you’ll have to pay back. How much you’ll be charged will depend on when in the academic year you’ve decided to leave. This is calculated as follows:
- If you leave in the first term, you’ll be charged 25% of the tuition fees for that academic year.
- If you withdraw in the second term, you’ll be charged 50%.
- If you leave in the third term, you’ll be accountable for 100% of the tuition fees for the year.
Even if you decide to leave halfway through a term, you’ll be responsible for the entirety of its fees.
You’ll be expected to repay the debts you’ve accumulated in the same way a graduate would – from the April after you leave university, if you’re earning over £25,725.
As well as your tuition fees you’ll be expected to cover your maintenance loans, including your accommodation fees. More often than not, when you moved into student accommodation, you’ll have signed a contract of either 40 or 52 weeks. This will need to be honoured in full and you’ll have to repay any loans you took out to cover these costs. You can only be released from this contract by finding another student to fill your room and take over the payments.
If you decide to return to university at a later date, you’ll still be able to reapply for student funding. However, your previous funding history will be taken into account and deducted from what you’re entitled to in the future. Also, if you withdrew from a course halfway through the year, Student Finance counts this as a full year of funding.
Changing my course but remaining at the same university
It’s possible to transfer onto a different course at the same university, as long as there’s enough space for you on the new programme and the transfer is agreed between the departments. When speaking to your new department, you’ll have to provide reasons for wanting to move courses and show you’re taking your studies seriously.
To transfer, you’ll need to fill in and submit an internal transfer form, which you can request from your current department. This will be approved once it’s been confirmed that you meet the entry requirements for your new course.
Switching courses at university can have financial implications for a number of reasons – for example, if you’re transferring onto a longer or shorter course. Contact Student Finance as soon as you’ve made your decision to find out your new loan entitlements.
Changing modules on the same course is a much simpler process. Request a ‘change of module’ form from your department, and you’ll be transferred over if there’s space on the new modules and they don’t clash with your existing timetable.
Bear in mind that you won’t be able to drop any compulsory modules and individual universities will set their own cut-off dates for module changes, typically in the first few weeks of term.
Changing from single to joint honours is more complicated. You may be asked to submit another personal statement, attend an interview with your prospective department, or even leave the institution and reapply through UCAS for the next joint honours cohort the following year.
Transferring to another university
If you’re unhappy with your institution you may be able to transfer to another. You’ll still need to do your research and meet the entry requirements of the university you’d like to move to.
Your previous credits might be taken into account if you’re hoping to join a new university for the second year onwards. Alternatively, you might be required to start afresh in the first year at your new university.
For a definitive answer on whether you can transfer, contact the admissions officer at your new university. Be prepared for the possibility of having to reapply through UCAS to restart your course, and the financial implications of this. As part of your application, the university might request information about your current course and modules, a transcript of your studies and an academic reference.
Taking a year out from study
If you have a good reason, being unhappy, feeling stressed or are in financial trouble – you’ll likely be granted permission to take some time out from your studies. This can be anywhere from a term to two years, depending on your circumstances and the institution.
To get started, arrange to meet with your personal tutor to discuss the situation. You’ll need the get permission to leave; don’t just stop attending lectures and seminars, as this will impact on you negatively when you return.
Many students find that a gap year is a worthwhile option. It can allow you to build up savings or gain work experience while taking stock of your career options.
If you decide to take a year out, you’ll need to inform Student Finance. You’re not usually entitled to funding while you aren’t studying, but should be eligible for the missed funding when your return. Contact them directly for more information.
What are my other options?
Swapping courses or leaving university entirely isn’t always the answer, as there are often plenty of ways to improve your situation.
For instance, if you’re struggling to balance full-time study with other commitments, consider dropping down to part time. If you’ve missed some classes and have fallen behind, discuss the possibility of repeating a year with your personal tutor. You may even be able to defer your studies if you need to take some time for personal or financial reasons.
If leaving is the best decision for you, there’s no need to feel embarrassed or as if you’ve made a mistake – university isn’t for everyone, and you won’t always find this out until you’ve given it a go.
*Writer: Rallou Daniilidou