27th March 2020

Leaving Your Course

It is not unusual to have doubts about your course and/or university at some point, and therefore considering whether you wish to leave altogether. Before making a decision on whether to leave university (i.e withdraw), it is important to consider why you want to leave, and whether there are any other options.

You also need to look at the academic, practical, immigration and financial implications of leaving university (see the relevant sections below). If you withdraw, then change your mind, the University does not have to let you come back.

Find out more about Leaving University

  1. Consider why you want to leave
  2. Alternatives to leaving
  3. Definitely decided to leave university?
  4. Money matters
  5. Housing
  6. Immigration
  7. Links to useful university support services

Consider why you want to leave

  • Not settling in- When you first arrive at university it can be quite daunting. Often it’s your first time away from home, it may be a new city, a new country and it’s a whole new education environment. You may be struggling with things like homesickness, difficulty adjusting to university life, difficulty with the academic changes, difficulty making friends, etc.. The University webpage on Homesickness gives you tips on dealing with homesickness, adjusting to life here and making friends. It is also worth looking at societies, activities, sport, and volunteering you could get involved in with Student Union to help you settle in and make the most of and enjoy your University experience.
  • Course not going well – talk to your personal tutor if you are unhappy with your choice of course, are struggling with your course, or just feel you aren’t coping. If you are finding it hard to adjust academically, you may find the following support services useful; 301 Study Skills, and Writing Advisory Service.
  • Want a job, not a degree - talk to the Careers Service for advice about what you might do instead of studying for a degree.
  • Personal problems – it can be really difficult balancing university with personal problems, but not impossible. Support is available to help you cope – your personal tutor, Student Advice Centre and Counselling Service are good places to start.
  • Money problems – unfortunately debt is a fact of life for most students. There is help and advice available that might enable you to stay at university. You may find the following webpages useful:

Money Management -SAC

Money Management- University

If you are experiencing unexpected financial hardship during your time at university you can also make an application to the University Financial Support Scheme.

  • Health or disability problems – talk to your doctor and personal tutor if ill-health or disability is interfering with your course. There may be options that enable you to remain at university. The University can provide support to students who have an illness or disability, so it is worth finding out what help is available to you by contacting the Disability and Dyslexia Support Service.
  • Things not going right- Find out more about leaving university, or alternatively come and speak to an adviser at the Advice and Support.

Alternatives to leaving

  • Changing your course or transferring University –this might be a possible option if you are unhappy on your current course or at this University. Please visit our webpage on ‘Changing Course’ if you are considering this option.
  • Taking a ‘Leave of Absence’ – this is taking approved time out from your studies (usually a year or a semester). Time off can be useful where there are health, personal or money problems that are affecting your ability to study. Leave of absence can also be worthwhile if you just need time to consider your options (such as changing course/ university, leaving altogether, or returning) as it keeps your place on the current course open. If you are considering this option, please visit our ‘Leave of Absence’ page.
  • If you only need a short time off due to personal / medical reasons or ad hoc time off, you should speak to your personal tutor and compelte a Extenuating Circumstances form as it may not be necessary for you to take leave of absence.

Definitely decided to leave university?

If you have definitely decided to leave, you should first speak to your personal tutor and inform them of this decision, then complete a Notification of Withdrawal / Transfer of Institution form and give it to your department/ personal tutor to sign and submit to the University Taught Programmes Office.

Other Points to note about withdrawal:

  • The University will notify the relevant funding authority that you have withdrawn from university.
  • If you have taken out a student loan, repayments will usually start in the April after you leave University.
  • You would no longer be a student so would be liable for Council Tax.
  • You would no longer be entitled to any Student Finance or help from the University, so you would probably need to find a job or make a claim for welfare benefits.
  • If you are an international student on a Tier 4 visa, there are additional procedures and visa implications that need to be considered. Please see the Immigration section below.
  • Find out more about withdrawing from university.

Money matters

It is important to consider the financial implications of leaving university before you make your decision:

Fee liability will be dependent on the timing of your leaving university. Full detailson fee liability and refunds at different points of the year.

(i) Overpayments

Any Student Finance received for the period after withdrawal would be classed as an overpayment, as you are not entitled to this. You should not receive any further Student Finance payments after withdrawal.

Student Finance will contact you to make arrangements to pay this back or in the case of loans, they may add it onto the total debt owed, and recover it in the usual way.

Please note: there may also be overpayments of University bursaries, which you may be required to pay back.

(ii) Returning to University after Withdrawal

At some point in the future, you may want to return to study at University. It is important to bear in mind the following about student finance eligibility:

Student Finance regulations entitle you to full student funding for the length of your course, plus one year’s additional funding if necessary (referred to as ‘Plus 1’/gift year funding) minus any years of previous study.

The formula is as follows:

Length of new course + 1 = ( ) – Previous study = Remaining full funding entitlement

As you have previously been a student you will have some years of previous study and therefore may not be entitled to full funding for any future course. For any years which you are not entitled to full funding, you will be paid a non means tested maintenance loan only. In these years you will have to pay your own tuition fees.

Student Finance does not want students to get to the end of their course and then find they have fees to pay and therefore any years which are not eligible for full funding will be at the start of the new course.

Example 1:

Student starts a course in Law and decides during Level 1 that he/she wants to Withdraw. A few years later they return to University to study MComp Computer Science, starting at Level 1. They will be entitled to full funding for their course:

New course length = 4 years + 1 year = 5 - 1 year of previous study = 4 years full funding remaining.

Example 2:

Student starts a course in Geography and decides after completing Level 2 that he/she wants to Withdraw. A year later they return to University to study Politics, starting at Level 1. They will be entitled to two years of full funding:

New course length = 3 years + 1 year = 4 - 2 years of previous study = 2 years full funding remaining.

These years would be paid by Student Finance in Level 2 and 3 of the Politics course. For Level 1, the student will have to pay their own fees and will only be entitled to a maintenance loan.

Example 3:

Student starts a course in Geography and decides to leave in the middle of Level 2. Two years later they return to University to Geography again. The University has allowed them to enter at level 2, carrying forward the credits they gained initially at Level 1. This student would be entitled to full funding for the remainder of their course:

New course length = 3 years + 1 year = 4 - 2 years of previous study = 2 years full funding remaining.

As they are entering direct into year 2, they do not need any additional funding.

If you do fall into this situation of having to pay one or more years fees yourself, you may still be able to get full funding if you can demonstrate that the reasons for leaving the course/ university were due to compelling personal circumstances such as illness, bereavement or family problems.

This information mainly applies to Home Undergraduates who are entitled to Student Finance England Funding.

Although the general principles are the same, if you are a student funded from Scotland, Northern Ireland, or Wales or NHS funded, the situation may different. Please speak to a money adviser at the Student Advice Centre for more information.

You are likely to still be liable for rent for the remainder of your contract, even if you have withdrawn from University and returned home. Please see the ‘Housing’ section below for further details.

  • Home Postgraduate Students starting their Masters course on or after 1 August 2016, can apply for a Postgraduate Loan from the Student Loans Company.
  • If you withdraw from your course after receiving a PGL, there may be overpayments (if you received money for a period you didn't attend at all in) and you will not receive funding for any new course in the future, unless you have compelling personal reasons for not completing the previous course.
  • Compelling personal reasons can be things such as illness, bereavement, or adverse personal circumstances.
  • This only applies if the course is different to the one that you withdrew from, however. So, if you think you may just wish to take some time out but ultimately return to the same course, a leave of absence might be preferable.
  • NB: Repeat PGL Master's funding due to CPR may be awarded one time only per student.
  • Different rules will apply to those on teacher training, NHS funded courses and social work students. Please see a money adviser at the Student Advice Centre if this applies to you.
  • Depending on the source of your funding, what your instalment plan is, and when you withdraw in the academic year, you may be entitled to a partial refund of your tuition fees or have some outstanding. You can contact fees@sheffield.ac.uk to check what your particular circumstances are.
  • In any case, it is highly recommended that you book an appointment with a Money Adviser at the Student Advice Centre to ensure that you fully understand the financial implications of withdrawing.


You want to stay in your accommodation

Students who withdraw from University normally choose to leave their University accommodation. If you would like to stay beyond the end of the payment period during which you withdraw, you should contact the Accommodation Office (accommodationoffice@sheffield.ac.uk) to discuss this.

You want to leave your accommodation

You will need to inform the University Accommodation Office (accommodationoffice@sheffield.ac.uk) if you are withdrawing and therefore leaving your accommodation. The University will charge you rent until the end of the payment period during which you officially withdraw. Different types of contracts have different payment periods. To find out which date applies in your case, check the Residence Contracts Terms and Conditions booklet which is available as a download on the University website.

If another student takes over your room before the end of the payment period during which your Leave of Absence starts and you have already paid to the end of the payment period, the University will refund any overpaid rent to you.

You want to stay in your accommodation

Many private sector housing contracts require tenants to inform their landlords if they cease to be a student. This is chiefly because when there is someone in the house who is not a full time student, there will Council Tax to pay. Find out more about Council Tax and who would be responsible for paying in this situation.

If your housing contract contains this type of clause, you should ensure that you comply with it, but you cannot be evicted by your landlord simply because you have stopped being a student.

You want to leave your accommodation

Nearly all housing contracts in the private sector are fixed term (so they last for a fixed period of time such as 6 or 12 months) with no get out clause for the tenant. Unfortunately, this means that your landlord can (and almost certainly will) insist that you continue to pay your rent right up to the end of your contract, even if you are no longer living in the house.

The way most students get around this is by finding a replacement tenant. Most landlords will accept a replacement but you need to get their permission first. The replacement must be someone who is acceptable to the landlord (normally this means another full time student) and, if the contract is a joint tenancy, acceptable to the remaining joint tenants as well.

Find out more about getting out of housing contracts


If you are an international student then withdrawing will have significant visa implications, so you must contact International Student Support for further advice about your situation.

If after withdrawal you want to return to studing in the UK, new rules on academic progression have made changing courses difficult and complicated, so you must get advice on your situation and the relevant procedures, from International Student Support, before you make any decision.