Changing Course / University

Thinking of changing your course or moving to a different university? You need to consider the practical and financial implications of doing this as well as follow the correct procedure.

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Taking time out from your course (Leave of Absence)

You may need some time out of your course for various reasons; such as illness or personal circumstances. This is known as ‘Leave of Absence’. If you are considering going on leave of absence you need to consider the practical and financial implications, as well as follow the relevant procedure.

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Changing Your Course / University

It is not unusual to have doubts about your course at some point. Changing course may be right for you, but it is important to consider all your options, and the practical implications before making a decision.

  • Talk to your tutor – This will help you work out if your current course really isn’t right for you.

  • Talk to Careers Service – Careers Advisers can help you identify suitable alternative courses.  

  • Talk to admissions tutors of courses you are interested in – Ask questions to establish which is the most appropriate course for you.

Remember, there isn’t an automatic right to change course. Entry requirements, availability of places and your reasons for wanting to change will all be taken into account.

Starting Another Course at Sheffield University

  • During the first 3 weeks of Level 1 (first year) you may be allowed to switch straight onto a different course.

  • This is not usually possible any later. Normally you would have to start the new course the following academic year.

  • It is possible to change course after the first year, but unless the modules from your current course can be transferred to the new course, you should expect to have to start from the first year again.   

  • Ask the admissions tutor of the relevant department for permission to change course. Tell your personal tutor that you are applying to change.

  • If offered a place, complete a Change of Status form.  

Moving to Another University

  • Do your research to check that it really is where you want to study - visit the university, check out the website and talk to the tutors.

  • Talk to your current tutor. You might need them to provide a reference to the other university.

  • Find out the university’s application procedure. Most will require you to apply through UCAS.

  • If you are hoping to arrange a same year transfer, ask what the deadline is.  

  • Ask if any credits from your current course will count towards the new degree. If not, you may have to repeat one or more years of study.

  • If offered a place, complete a Change of Status form to inform this university that you will be leaving.  

Leave of Absence

You may want to take Leave of Absence if you are not starting the new course immediately. If permission to change course is conditional on this year’s exam results, leave of absence will probably not be possible.

Withdrawing from this University

Withdrawing is different from taking leave of absence between courses. If you withdraw, you stop being a student until you register on the new course. There are pros and cons that you need to consider, including council tax liability, welfare benefit entitlement and student support repayment.   Please contact Student Advice Centre if you need advice about making this decision.

Money Matters

It is essential to consider if you can afford to change course. Click here for more information.

// Leaving your course

It is not unusual to consider leaving your course at some point.   Before making a decision, it is worth considering why you want to leave, and whether there are any other options.  You also need to look at the practical and financial implications of leaving university.  If you leave, then change your mind, the University does not have to let you come back.   

Consider why you want to leave

  • Course not going well – talk to your personal tutor is you are unhappy with your choice of course or are worried that you aren’t coping.  Don’t just vanish – you might need a reference from your department in the future!  

  • 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 – 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.  

  • Health or disability problems – talk to your doctor 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 are registered as disabled so it is worth finding out what help is available to you.  

Alternatives to Leaving

  • Changing your course might be a possible option if you are unhappy on your current course.

  • Leave of absence is a period of approved absence from university.  Time off can be useful where there are health, personal of money problems.  Leave of absence can also be worthwhile if you just need to consider your university options.  Time out could help you decide whether to change course, leave altogether or come back and carry on.

Definitely leaving your course?

To inform the University that you are leaving, use the Change of Status form. The University will notify the relevant Local Education Authority or funding authority that you have withdrawn from University.

Practicalities of Leaving Your Course

  • The University will process any fee refund you may be entitled to.  

  • The University will notify the relevant funding authority that you have withdrawn from university.

  • If you have taken out a student loan, repayments will start in the April after you leave University unless you apply & qualify for a repayment deferment.

  • If you live in University owned accommodation click here for information about ending your tenancy.

Click here for information about finding a job.

Leave of Absence

You may need time off your course for various reasons.  The University uses the term ‘leave of absence’ for approved breaks lasting more than a week or two. During a period of leave of absence you remain registered as a student but are not required to attend university or undertake any course work/exams.  It is worth considering if -

  • You need time to deal with health, personal or financial issues that are interfering with your studies

  • You are changing course but cannot start the new course immediately.  

  • You just need some time away from the pressure of University to consider your options.

Leave of absence usually lasts up to 12 months, but it may be possible to arrange longer if necessary.

Applying for leave of absence?

  • You need the University’s permission to take leave of absence.

  • Talk to your personal tutor of another appropriate staff member and explain why a break would be helpful.

  • Check if any significant changes to your course are planned.  These may affect you when you come back.

  • Complete a ‘Change of Status’ form and have it signed by your department.

What happens at the end of leave of absence?

  • Student Services will contact you towards the end of your leave of absence with information about registering again.

  • If you are entitled to Student Support you will receive relevant claim forms to re-apply for funding.

Leave of absence on health grounds

Your doctor must provide a medical note or complete Section 4 of the special circumstances form.  If you are a Faculty of Medicine student, the University may also ask for an Occupational Health report.

Before returning to University from leave of absence, you will need to get a certificate from the University Health Service (Occupational Health Service for Faculty of Medicine students) confirming you are fit to resume your course.

The University may recommend you take leave of absence if it is concerned that you are not fit enough to be doing your course.  If you disagree, the University will consider medical evidence, and decide if you are required to take leave of absence.  Please contact Student Advice Centre if you need further information.

Practicalities of leave of absence

Withdrawing from University

It is not unusual to consider leaving your course / university at some point. Before making a decision, it is worth considering why you want to leave, and whether there are any other options. You also need to look at the practical and financial implications of leaving University. 

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