Girl in classroom how to transfer universities
Girl in classroom how to transfer universities

What You Need To Know About How To Transfer Universities

Not happy at your current university? That’s totally okay. We’ll show you how to transfer universities if that’s what you’re after.

Starting university is a huge achievement that’s also super overwhelming at times. Away from home, friends, and family, it can take time to adjust and settle in to your new life. But sometimes, you figure out uni life isn’t for you, or your uni course isn’t what you hoped, so you wonder how to transfer universities.

Luckily, transferring universities in the UK is quite simple.

The only complexities that arise are when you’re changing to an entirely different course, a university with a higher standard of entry and whether the course actually allows transfer mid-year.

Let’s dive in on how to make a university transfer and the process of dropping out altogether.

How to transfer universities or drop out

Changing university courses after the first year

students in lecture hall - how to transfer universities, transferring universities

When that first year high starts to settle, you may realise that actually, you can’t stand your current course and/or your university.

You’re not alone and it’s quite common. Transferring unis isn’t uncommon, and we’ll dive into the whats, hows and whys.

Some reasons why students transfer or drop out of university

There are tons of reasons why students change their minds after the first year (or even part way through the second and third), and want to transfer universities.

The course is bad

Maybe the subject is great but the delivery is awful and you’re not enjoying the course.

There could be a lack of support from your tutor and you don’t feel supported to achieve your goals. Or, maybe the modules you’re studying are boring or useless in your eyes.

Or possibly, you just decided that you made the wrong choice — which is totally fine! At the end of the day, it’s your education, so you should make the right decision for you.

You’re not adjusting to university life

It might not be the course, but the people you live with, the social life (or lack of) or lack of financial support that’s affecting your outlook on the course. Struggling to make friends at uni can also impact your outlook on uni life too.

Maybe you weren’t sure how to deal with moving out of your parents house to go to uni. If things are still not quite right by the time the second or third semester rolls around, then transferring universities might not be such a bad idea.

Read: How To Make Friends At Uni.

Your career goals have changed

Perhaps you saw your uni pal on their art course having a blast and you were always curious about your own artistic streak. Sometimes, when we’ve had a better idea of what our field of study entails, we’re either inspired to progress or get put off altogether.

Transferring universities and/or courses, in this case, is a great idea to ensure you get the most out of your education to support your future career.

Now, of course, these feelings can arise later into your degree. So let’s see what you can do about making the transition to another university.

When should you transfer university?

From your own point of view, there isn’t a clear-cut or right time for anyone to transfer universities. In fact, you should make the decision based solely on what you feel like doing.

Typically, however, most students make the decision during or after their first year, as they’ve had a good idea of what they don’t like already. Whether that be due to the course, tutor, student life, or a combination of many reasons.

From a logistical point of view, you’ll need to find out specifically when application deadlines shut, as well as a variety of other factors we’ll dive into shortly.

Things to consider before transferring university or university course

laptop book and girl on bed. How to transfer universities

Before you up and leave, there are a few things you need to think about from a logistical point of view, as well as a personal one. Let’s find out the process before you consider how to transfer university or drop out

If you’re considering transferring or dropping out

Research before you decide

There’s a lot to consider before transferring universities, so you’ll need to do some research before you begin the process of transferring universities. This research includes:

  • Does the university allow transfers altogether?
  • Does the university you want to transfer to allow second/third-year entry?
  • What documents do you need to provide to explain your situation e.g. taking on primary care?
  • Will transferring affect your visa status?
  • Will you be liable for paying some (or all) of the tuition yourself? Find out everything you need to know about student finance in the UK
  • Are you able to find accommodation around the university if you intend to stay near or on campus?

Think about why you want to move

The why behind the move will be important for your personal statement. Plus, it gives you a chance to reflect on why you’re making the decision to transfer universities.

  • Are you unhappy with your university and/or course?
  • Could switching courses at the same university be an alternative?
  • Are personal circumstances affecting you?
  • Is it costing you too much to attend your current university or course?
  • Do you want to study closer (or further away) to home?

What are the requirements?

Every university has its own set of entry requirements and they differ per course. You need to see if your grades and/or current credits accumulated match them.

If they don’t, do you have sufficient work experience to make up for the shortfall? Is there another university with lower requirements you might consider? Always have an informal discussion with the admissions team at the university you’d like to apply to so you have an idea of what’s possible.

What information do I need to gather?

Before going through the formal UCAS process again, it’s best to contact the admissions team for the university you wish to transfer to. You’ll need the following information to hand so they can tell you if the course will consider your application:

  • Full name
  • Details of your current university course
  • The course you want to transfer to
  • Your academic history, including GCSEs, A levels and current university grades achieved
  • The modules you’ve completed.

How will transferring universities affect my visa?

It’s possible to transfer universities in the UK if you’re an international student.

Universities, by law, must report any changes to your Tier 4 visa by informing the UK Visas and Immigration (UKVI).

Is the course you want to transfer to longer than the time left on your visa? Then you’ll need to apply for an extension via the UK Home Office.

Getting advice

If you’re really struggling on where to start, your tutor, current admissions team, and the university of choices’ admissions team will be able to help you. Plus, there are tons of forums and resources online about transferring universities from students themselves, so you’re not alone!

How to transfer to a different course at the same university or college

woman in library looking at books - transferring universities, how to transfer universities

It might just be the course that’s not a good fit, but you like everything else about the university or college and want to stay. f you’ve actually decided to stay at your current school, here are the steps for transferring to a different course at the same university or college.

Transferring to a different course at the same university or college

Find out if there’s space available on the other course.

Be prepared for there not to be. If there isn’t, is there a similar course that does have space?

Do you meet the entry requirements?

If so, great! If you don’t, it’s still worth asking the question. Typically, those that have already completed a year of study and achieved good grades each semester have a better chance of acceptance. Even if your previous studies, like A-Levels, fall short.

Are the departments happy for you to make the transfer?

Some students can display resentful and negative feelings towards a course and/or tutor. When making the transfer, you’ll need to be level-headed and convince your current course tutor why the switch will be the best thing for you and your future. This will work in your steed when the discussion is had cross-department.

Find out the soonest transfer date.

Depending on the course and year of entry, you may need to retake the year or just the term.

Find out when to apply

Always refer to the university’s deadline dates for applications. If you’ve missed it, it could still be possible to apply, just check in with the admissions office.

Typically, it’s best to submit an application at the beginning of what should be your last semester before the transfer. If you see a university talk about rolling submission, this means they’ll continue taking applications until they’ve reached capacity, which could very well work in your favour.

Transferring to a course at a different university or college

If changing university or college is the only option for you, then here’s what you’ll need before changing uni course.

1. Does the university accept transfers?

Contact the university informally to check first before making any formal applications through UCAS.

2. Do you meet the entry requirements?

This is a given, but you may need to demonstrate certain subject knowledge or have a particular set of grades that match.

Alternatively, if you can provide evidence of work experience in the subject, they could make an exception. But we’re stressing the word could here. It’s worth a shot, anyway.

3. Is it possible to gain second or third-year entry?

If the course is similar and you meet the requirements, it’s more likely that you could be accepted for second or third-year entry – especially if you’re wanting to complete the third year after a 2-year foundation degree. You’ll need to convince them why you should be granted what is known as ‘advanced standing’ entry.

If the courses are completely different, it’s quite unlikely that you’ll gain second or third-year entry. The exception in some cases, could be arts-based degrees, where you’ll typically have to go for an interview or audition anyway to assess your skills.

4. Gather all of your modules studied and their grades

Some universities may only accept you for first-year entry, even if you’ve requested second or third-year entry. This could be due to the lack of modules needed from your first year or a shortfall in grades achieved.

Even with all of the above, you can’t guarantee a successful transfer. You’ll need to consider having a list of possible universities you could transfer to if your preferable one rejects your application.

Some universities may give a conditional offer on UCAS, provided you meet a set of requirements by finishing the current year you’re in.

How to transfer universities in the first year

It’s possible to transfer universities in the first year, but as mentioned, you’ll need to do some research, especially on the terms of your new university and course.

In all cases, you’ll need to provide all the modules you’ve studied and the marks received for them. Yes, that includes all the ones you didn’t perform well in.

You’ll also need to manage your expectations, as not all universities will make the switch happen. Some may allow you to join the next term, or you may have to start the course from Year 1 first semester, even if the courses are similar.

Ideally, try your best to complete the first year at your current uni so you can leave with good results and better chances of transferring universities to your preferred one.

Before you start checking how to transfer universities, consider these questions first to make sure the move is the right choice for you:

  • Are the sizes of your classes or the university itself okay for you?
  • Is the location accommodating and suitable?
  • Does the course content appeal to you?
  • If you’re homesick, is the university closer to home or where you’ll be more comfortable?
  • Is university the right choice for you right now? Should you take a gap year instead?

How to transfer universities in the second year

“Can I change my course in second year?”. Transferring to universities in the second year isn’t too dissimilar to transferring from the first year. Moving university in the second year to another course for second-year entry is only granted on a case-by-case basis, whether this is due to a change in personal circumstances, such as location, funding, wellbeing or other reasons.

Provided the course is like-for-like, you’ll increase your chance of acceptance, but if the courses are drastically different, you’ll need to start from year one.

This can impact your funding, so it’s worth speaking with Student Finance to find out how you can fund your future course, especially if starting again.

Before you drop out of your uni after the course ends and wonder how to transfer universities for the start of second year, think about the following:

  • What are the requirements at your new university?
  • What will you need to do before applying for your new course?
  • Is there anything you’ll have to do after you have been accepted?
  • Do you need a certain amount of credits to apply and transfer universities?
  • Will I be happier here?

Student loans and transferring universities

Depending on the course you switch to can affect the level of student loans you’re entitled to.

If you’re transferring courses at the end of the academic year, you’ll need to see if you can get additional funding for an extra year. Get this information as soon as possible from the Student Finance company before making the switch.

Transferring university course credits

It’s possible to transfer the course credits you’ve accumulated on your current course and transfer them to a new term in the first year or second year of the new course you want to join.

If the course you’re transferring to is different to your current area of study, it may not be possible to transfer your credits and you’ll have to start the course from scratch. This means another year of tuition fees on top of accommodation costs.

How to drop out of university altogether

University isn’t for everyone and that’s totally okay. If you want to drop out of uni altogether, there are a few steps to follow to drop out of your uni or college properly. You can use the time to find full-time employment, save for a gap year or volunteer.

Dropping out of university and starting again is always an option too. Sometimes a break from education can be all you need.

You’ll just need to be wary of the following when you drop out of university:

  • If you leave after the first term, you may still need to pay fees for the whole year
  • You may also have to pay for the remainder of your accommodation costs that you signed a contract for, unless you can find someone else to take your room
  • You’ll stop receiving any loan payments and student benefits
  • If you stay in your accommodation for the remainder of the term, you’ll generally be liable for council tax payments
  • Some employers may ask why you dropped out.

What happens if you fail first year of uni?

If you fail your first year of university, you’ll have to retake the full year. In some cases, you can resit the modules you failed.

It won’t affect your entire degree, as first year grades don’t count towards your final grade. If you are struggling to keep up with your studies though, it’s worth speaking to your course leader or the academic support staff. Our 10 best study apps guide can help you find the right study scheduling app to organise your uni, college and personal life.

Is it worth transferring universities?

This is the ultimate question and it’s totally down to you.

If your career goals have changed, or you’re really unhappy with the lack of support the university offers and the course sucks, then yes, it’s worth transferring universities.

If you study from home, can’t get the funding for a university/course switch or there are options to improve the quality of your current student life, then it’s absolutely worth making it work where you are. Only after you’ve given it a chance and you don’t see an improvement, you should consider the switch.

Read: What To Take To University Checklist

We hope this guide has given you enough information on how to transfer universities. As you can see, the process in itself isn’t complicated. But all in all, we highly recommend managing your own expectations so you’re not disappointed with the outcome.