Page:Changing Course (including transferring University)
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Changing Course (including transferring University)

It is not unusual to have doubts about your course / university at some point. Changing course / University may be the right option for you, but it is important to consider all your options, as well as the academic, practical, immigration and financial implications before making a decision.

Consider and follow the points below, to assist you in deciding whether to change course:

  1. Talk to your tutor - This will help you work out if your current course really isn’t right for you.
  2. Talk to the Careers Service - Careers Advisers can help you identify suitable alternative courses.  
  3. Talk to admissions tutors of courses you are interested in – Ask questions to establish which is the most appropriate course for you. Find out about course contents, assessments types, teaching methods to ensure that you are happy to change into this course. Details of admissions tutors can be found in the staff section of the department’s homepage on the University website.
  4. Consider the financial, housing and any immigration implications of changing your course. Further information is given in the relevant sections below.
  5. Once you have made a decision to change course and you know which course you want to change to, you should contact the admissions tutor of that department and find out how to make an application. Usually this is through UCAS, but the department may have another procedure for internal candidates. Please note: 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.
  6. Usually when you change course, you will be expected to start the new course at level one. There may be some exceptions (depending on departmental approval) where credits you have gained in your previous course can be carried forward, usually where the courses and modules are very similar, or you are changing from a dual honours of a course to single honours and vice versa.
  7. If you have doubts about your course you should change course before the start of year two. Often students are advised to ‘stick it out’ and they may feel better in second year, but if you are funded by Student Finance this will affect your funding entitlement (which will be discussed later). Therefore, it is important that if you are having doubts about your course, you consider the alternative options as soon as possible, and if you intend to change to do it by the start of second year so that your funding isn’t affected. 
  8. Please note: This doesn’t mean that if you are in second year or beyond you don’t have the option to change course, you do, but you will have to consider the financial implications. Please see below in the ‘Money Matters’ section for more information. 
  9. Also you would have to restart the new course at Level One, unless modules from your previous course can be carried over.
  10. If you are an international student on a Tier 4 visa, there are visa implications that need to be considered. Please see the Immigration section below.
  11. This university webpage contains useful information on changing your course.

During the first 3 weeks of Semester 1, you may be allowed to switch straight onto a different course (dependant on places and admissions criteria). Beyond this you would normally have to start the new course the following academic year. 

Procedure to change course:

  1. Contact the admissions tutor of the relevant department for permission to change onto the new course. They will need to look at spaces and entry requirements before deciding whether they can offer you a place. 
  2. Tell your Personal Tutor that you are applying to change.
  3. If offered a place, complete a Change of Programme form.  This will need to be signed by your current department and your new department, who will then submit it to the University Taught Programmes Office to be processed.
  4. Once your application has been processed, you will receive an email from the University to confirm the change of programme has been processed. 
  5. The University will inform your funding body of the change in circumstances.
  6. The actual process may take some weeks to formally be completed. Therefore, if you are changing course within the first three weeks of term, then it is advisable (after agreement with your new department) to start attending lectures and classes for the new course as soon as you have submitted the form, so that you don’t fall behind.
  7. If you are an international student on a Tier 4 visa, there are additional procedures and  possible visa implications. Please see the Immigration section below.

Before you decide whether transferring university is the right option for you, you should consider the following points:

  • 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.
  • Does it deal with the underlying issue? E.g. if you need to move to be closer to home, ensure that the new university you choose is actually closer to home. If the underlying problem is part of a wider issue like personal, health or academic issues, changing university may not be the answer.
  • Consider the housing and financial implications (see below in the relevant sections).
  • Talk to your current tutor. You might need them to provide a reference to the other university.
  • Find out the new university’s application procedure. Most will require you to apply through UCAS.
  • If you are hoping to arrange a same year transfer, ask the new university what the deadline is.  
  • Ask the new university if any credits from your current course will count towards the new degree. If not, you will most likely have to start at Level 1. If you are doing the same / a very similar course at the new university and you have covered the core modules, you may be able to carry your credits forward.
  • If offered a place, complete a Notification of Withdrawal / Transfer of Institution form and submit to your department who will sign it and forward to the University Taught Programmes Office to process. If you are transferring university, you should ensure that you do fill in the relevant sections on this form for transfer. This will protect your fee cohort and Student Finance cohort, so that you are not affected by changes for new students.
  • Once the transfer has completed, you will receive an email from the University to confirm that you are no longer a student here.
  • The University will inform your funding body of the change in circumstances.
  • If you are an international student on a Tier 4 visa, there are additional procedures and possible visa implications. Please see the Immigration section below.

If you are not able to do a same year transfer/change, you may want to take Leave of Absence until you start the new course, so you will not have to complete the rest of the year on the current course. If you want to change course and take a leave of absence before you start your new course, you will have to complete this form, instead of the general Change of Programme form. 

You do have the option of completing the year you are in if you wish, and this would not normally affect Student Finance further because you would already be registered and attending for this year. If permission to change course is conditional on this year’s exam results, leave of absence will probably not be possible.

General points to note about leave of absence:

  • You are still classed as a registered student of the university
  • You will still be exempt from Council Tax
  • You will still be able to use the Students Union Facilities, University Libraries, and computer facilities (including having access to your computer, MUSE and email accounts).

It is important to consider the financial implications of changing course before you make your decision:

  • If you change course within the first 3 weeks of Semester 1, there will be no implications on your fees.
  • If you complete the year, you will be liable for the full year’s fees of the existing course and obviously the fees for the new course.
  • If you take a leave of absence or your transfer is done before the end of the year, fee liability will be dependent on the timing of your leave of absence / transfer. Full details on fee liability and refunds at different points of the year can be found here.
  • If you change course and are able to take some credits forward to your new course; this may mean you study fewer credits in the first year of the new course. In this case the fees charged would be pro rata as per the number of credits instead of the full yearly amount. Please note: in this situation, the university or your department may refer to you as studying ‘part-time’, but remember; if you are in receipt of Student Finance, you are still a full time student for Student Finance purposes, as your course has not changed to a part time course.

The following information only 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.

The funding you will get towards a new course depends on the course length and how long you spent on your previous course(s).

The following are basic guidelines on Student Finance eligibility. If you are unsure on how the rules relate to your particular situation, please speak to a money adviser at the Student Advice Centre.

Student Finance regulations entitle you to full student funding for the length of your new course, plus one year’s additional funding if necessary (referred to as ‘Plus 1’/gift year funding), minus any years of funding you received for your original course (and any other course you may have done prior to that). This is referred to as previous study.   

The formula is as follows:

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

  • If you transfer directly to another course during the same academic year, your student funding is not negatively affected as long as the new course is no more than one year longer than your current course/previous course.
  • If you decide to change course during your first year, one year’s student funding will have been used even if you have only completed a few weeks of the original course, but you would still be funded for the new course as you will only have used your ‘Plus 1’ year funding.

Situations where you may find that you are not entitled to full funding for the whole of your new course, may include when you change course in/after second year, or you have previously done a foundation degree (separate from your degree 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.

Funding bodies do 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:

Student starts a course in Maths and decides after completing Level 2 that he/she wants to change course. They change to English Literature and start 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 will be paid by Student Finance in Level 2 and 3 of the English Literature course. For Level 1, the student will have to pay their own fees and will only be entitled to a maintenance loan. 


Exceptional circumstances

However, if you do fall in 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 transferring your course, or changing university, are due to compelling personal circumstances such as illness, bereavement or family problems. Please speak to a money adviser at the Student Advice Centre, if you think this applies to you, and we can help you to make representations to Student Finance.

  • If you take leave of absence before you start your new course, then Student Finance will generate an overpayment for the period for any days they have paid for beyond the leave of absence start date. They will contact you to make arrangements to pay this back or they may claw it back from the next years funding entitlement. They usually do this in the case of maintenance grants (pre-2016 students only), and usually for maintenance loans they will agree to defer the collection until the end of your studies or add it onto the final student loans debt outstanding and collect it in the usual way.
  • You should not normally receive any further Student Finance payments for the remainder of the leave of absence.
  • You would not normally be entitled to welfare benefits as you would still be classed as a full time student. Please see our benefits pages for more details.
  • There may also be overpayments of University bursaries, which you may be required to pay back.
  • If you find yourself in financial hardship due to not receiving student finance during leave of absence, or because of the overpayments incurred due to leave of absence, you can make a request to Student Finance England to allow continued funding during leave of absence due to the financial hardship caused.

You will need to demonstrate your financial hardship to Student Finance by providing 3 months bank statements, and evidence of continued financial commitments such as rent for the rest of the year (tenancy agreement, which should show that you are liable for the full years rent), and any other significant financial commitments that are relevant.

Please speak to a money adviser at the Student Advice Centre if this applies to you, and we can help you to make representations to Student Finance.

In addition to the the student finance hardship application (if applicable) explained in the previous section; if you experience financial difficulty during leave of absence, you can also make an application to the University Financial Support Fund.

The financial support fund is available for all students; undergraduate full and part time , post gradaute taught and research, and international students.

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 they may claw it back from your next year’s funding entitlement. If this claw back will cause you financial hardship, you may be able to negotiate deferment of repayment if you can demonstrate the financial hardship this would cause you.

If this situation arises, the advice centre (or equivalent) at the new university should be able to assist you in making representations to Student Finance.

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

You are likely to still be liable for rent for the remainder of your contract, even if you return home after your leave of absence or upon withdrawal from this university. Please see the ‘Housing’ section below for further details.

Home Postgraduate Students starting their Masterss course on after 1 August 2016, can apply for a Postgraduate Loan (PGL). 

If you change course or university whilst receiving a PGL, you can usually continue to receive funding as long as you haven’t received the maximum amount.

You would not normally be funded for any repeat years unless you have compelling personal reasons for not completing the previous course. This can include where you have had to change university. Compelling personal reasons can be things such as illness, bereavement, difficult personal circumstances.

Please speak to a Money Adviser at the Student Advice Centre for further advice if you fall into any of these situations.

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.

If you are a Postgraduate Research student, you may be funded for your research. If you are intending to change department or institution, this may affect your grant funding. You should speak to the funding administrator for details on how it affects you. If you are moving institution and wish to apply for a grant transfer, please click here for further information.  

If you withdraw or go on leave of absence pending your course/university change, you are usually still liable for your rent for the remainder of the housing contract. 

You may wish to stay in Sheffield and work part time to pay your rent or if circumstances mean you are in significant financial hardship, you may be able to request discretionary funding during leave of absence, as explained above.

However if you are in University accommodation, you may not be able to remain in University accommodation beyond withdrawal.

If you are going on leave of absence pending your course change / transfer, please visit the housing section on this webpage for further information.

If you are going on withdrawing pending your course change / transfer, please visit the housing section on this webpage for further information.

If you are an international student then changing course / University will have significant visa implications. You must contact International Student Support for further advice about your situation.

New rules on academic progression have made changing courses difficult and complicated, so it is important that you get advice on your situation and the proceudres from International Student Support before you make any decision.

Last Updated: August 2016