Transferring University in the UK: A Student’s Guide

In University by Think Student Editor1 Comment

After starting your course at university, you may find that’s it’s just not for you. While that’s perfectly okay, it does put you into a bit of trouble as now you have to decide what you’re going to do next. In this scenario, you’ll tend to have 3 options. Option 1, do nothing, continue with the course you hate. Option 2, drop out of university altogether. Option 3, transfer to a different university or a different course that you’ll actually love.

In this article we’ll talk you through option 3, transferring to a different university or a different course at university.

Continue reading to get your questions answered about the process of transferring university in the UK. This article will take you through how you do this, how student finance works for this, which universities will allow you to transfer and more.

How to transfer to a different university in the UK

When talking about transferring in regard to universities in the UK, we could either be referring to transferring to a different university programme but at the same institution. Alternatively, we could be referring to physically moving from one university to another, regardless of whether the course is the same or not.

As these 2 ways of transferring university are so different, the processes involved with them are too. In this section, we’ll be looking into the processes involved with the latter, physically moving from one university or alternative higher education provider to another.

The following sections use information from this article by Top Universities and this article by Bright Knowledge. You can also look at this Think Student article, which has more on transferring university.

Step 1: Research the university that you want to transfer to

The first thing that you need to do before you can transfer to a different university is to do your research. As transferring doesn’t go through the same standardised process as the initial admissions round, you will need to know how the university that you’re interested in deals with transfers.

The first thing that you’ll need to know is if the university even accepts transfer students. Some universities, particularly the more prestigious ones, won’t allow you to transfer to them. You can learn more about which ones do in its respective section below.

You’ll also need to figure out how far into the course you will be able to start at. Some universities will allow you to join their programme in the second or sometimes even the third year of the degree. This will typically depend on how similar your original course was to this new one and at what stage of your degree you are at before you transfer.

One of the most important things you’ll need to consider is whether you actually meet the entry requirements for this new course. This may be in terms of your grades for A-Levels or equivalent qualifications.

However, it could also be in terms of having studied a specific subject previously or you may even need some kind of portfolio for a more creative course. Also, it’s important to keep in mind that, particularly if you want to transfer mid-year or in the second or third year, the university may have higher requirements of you than would be initially expected for applicants in the regular admissions round.

This is likely because they would want to be sure that you can cope with joining the programme later on. For more specific information about this, it is best to look at your prospective university’s website to see their entry requirements for second- or third-year entry.

For more information about this, check out this guide on the UCAS website.

Step 2: Talk to your current university about transferring university

After you do your initial research to get a better idea of how your transfer would work, it would be a good idea to talk to your current university. This is because they can provide support and guidance with helping you make your decision and to weigh up your options.

By talking to someone at your university, whether this is your personal tutor, a student support officer or even a careers advisor, you may be able to get a better idea of whether transferring really is best for you. This is especially as they may be able to help you resolve any issues that you are facing at the university that might have made you want to transfer.

Step 3: Contact the university that you’re interested in transferring to

The next step in the process is to informally contact the university that you’re interested in applying to. In this, you can find out more about the university’s transfer policies and whether there are even spaces on the course that you’re interested in. You can also find out if they accept transfer students and would consider your application.

When contacting the university that you’re interested in, you should give them details about you and your education history. These include both what you have already studied at university, including all of the modules and any grades you received, as well as your previous education, particularly A-Levels or equivalent qualifications.

Step 4: Complete the application process for transferring university

As previously mentioned, the process for transferring university in the UK isn’t exactly standardised. Due to this, how you actually go about this can vary greatly.

First of all, regardless of the university, you will need to make sure that you meet the entry requirements for the course and that the university are willing to consider your application. You will also need to choose what year of entry you are applying for.

How the rest of the application process goes will depend on when you are planning to transfer. If you are applying for the start of the next academic year, then you will most likely apply through UCAS in a similar way to how you applied originally. Remember, if you’re starting for second year or even third year entry, you will need to make this clear on the respective part of the application.

However, if you’re planning to transfer university midway through the year, you will need to go through the university’s specific application process. This might include interviews or forms to fill out, to know more it is best to establish this when you first contact them.

From here, you will need to get confirmation from your new university that you have been offered a place and then you will need to get back in touch with your current university and show this confirmation to them.

Regardless of whether you’ve applied for the next year of for during the academic year, you will need to get in touch with your current university after you have been confirmed a place so that you can arrange your withdrawal from them.

How to transfer to a different course at the same university in the UK

If you want to remain at the same university but still want to change the course you’re on, then the process for transferring is slightly different than if you were to change university altogether. In fact, it is much simpler as the process will always be internal and you won’t have to go through other services, such as UCAS.

Please look at the following section, which will explain the step-by-step process of transferring to a different course at your current university. The information below is taken from this article by What Uni?.

Step 1: Research the university course you want to transfer to

Similarly to transferring to an entirely different university, you will first need to do your research. In this case, you will need to find out which course you want to switch to and figure out if it really is your best option. You should also look at other things, such as entry requirements, materials that you might need and even what other students think about the course.

Step 2: Talk to your university about transferring course

The first thing that you should do after doing your research is contact your university. First of all, this may be in the form of a careers advisor or a student support officer, in the same way as before.

Using these support services at your university can help you to figure out if transferring is best for you and more about the process involved. Moreover, as you will still be planning to stay at your university, they may be in a better position to advise you more directly about the course or to be able to put you in touch with lecturers or other students, who will know more.

Step 3: Go through the process of transferring your university course

Next, you should officially contact your university about transferring. How you are supposed to go about this may vary between universities. It can be a good idea to start by talking to your personal tutor or the student support services to ask them how to go about with the transfer.

However, some universities, such as the University of Portsmouth, may say that you need to contact your current department at university as well as the department of the university course that you wish to transfer to. From here, if both departments agree, you will need to complete a transfer form, allowing you to actually transfer to a different course. For more information about the transfer process at the University of Portsmouth, check out this page on their website.

Alternatively, some universities, such as the University of Surrey, will require you to contact the student academic services at your university in order for you to be able to transfer. For more information about this, check out this page on the University of Surrey’s website.

What happens to your student finance if you transfer universities?

When it comes to transferring university or university course, there are a range of things that you need to consider. Arguably, one of the most important of these is how your student finance will be affected.

First of all, after you’ve confirmed that you will be transferring university or to a different course at your university, you should tell student finance. This can be done through your online account. To learn more about this, check out this page on the government website.

Other than this, how your student finance is affected will depend on how you are transferring and when.

If your transfer to a different university means that you will have to repeat a year of university, you will be entitled to get an extra year of loans to cover this with Student Finance England. However, if you have to repeat more than one year due to your transfer, you may have to cover some of this on your own.

For example, if you decide to transfer for the start of what would be your second year and start your new course in its first year, you would be entitled to receive student loans for this additional year. However, if you decided to transfer at what would be the start of your third year, but you started your new course from its first year, you would be entitled to one additional year of student loans but may be left to pay for your final year on your own.

To learn more about this, check out this guide by the University of Portsmouth.

If you don’t need to repeat a year or more of university when transferring, you will still need to notify student finance about the change. Other than this, you should talk to the student finance advisors at your current university.

However, your student finance shouldn’t be impacted too much if this is the case. For more information about this, check out this guide by the University of Westminster.

Which universities in the UK accept transfer students?

As previously mentioned, not all universities in the UK will accept transfer students. Due to this, it’s important to know which ones do and which don’t before you begin the application process.

In the UK, the vast majority of universities will accept transfer students. However, some universities, particularly the more prestigious ones don’t.

The universities that don’t accept transfer students include the following.

  • University of Oxford – the University of Oxford explicitly states on their website that they don’t accept transfer students except in exceptional circumstances. To learn more about this, check out this page on their website.
  • University of Cambridge – once again, the University of Cambridge explicitly states that they don’t normally accept transfer students. For more information about this, check out this page on their website.

While these are the main two, there may be others, so it is still best to check the website of the university you’re interested in transferring to in order to see if they do accept transfers.

As the Oxbridge universities are both so difficult to get into in the first place, it’s no shock that they don’t accept students who have transferred from another university. You can learn more about just how hard it is to get into these universities, check out this Think Student article.

Why would you transfer university instead of dropping out?

If you’re unhappy in your current university course, one of your options is to transfer to another university or another university programme. However, you still have the option to drop out entirely.

In some situations, students might find that dropping out altogether works better for them. This would particularly be the case if you were unsure about what you wanted to do next or if you realised that you no longer need to study at university as the career you want doesn’t require you to have a degree.

However, in other situations transferring can be a better option for students. For example, if you still want to continue with your course or something similar but you dislike the university that you’re at, whether that’s due to the location, how the course is taught, the facilities or whatever else, then transferring to a different higher education provider would be a better fit than dropping out entirely.

Some students may also find that transferring is a better option as it allows them to continue studying, if that’s what they feel is best for them.

To get a better idea of whether transferring or dropping out would be better for you, it’s a good idea to learn more about dropping out. You can do this by clicking on this Think Student article.

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