When you enter university, you plan to see the course through to the end and leave with a degree. However, three years is a long time, and a huge range of circumstances can arise which change our plans and attitudes when it comes to our career. While withdrawal from university can be unexpected, it does indeed happen – whether that be the student choosing to withdraw or being withdrawn by the university. When this happens, it can be hard to know what to do next – this was not your original plan.
Although it is easier said than done, withdrawal from university doesn’t have to be something to panic about. There are lots of options available to you, and this article is here to guide you through them – keep reading for more!
What does it mean to be withdrawn from university?
In short, withdrawing from university means stopping all your studies for your course. You no longer attend lectures or formal teaching and are no longer a student at that university.
This can happen for a whole host of reasons, and there are several different types of withdrawal. The main categories are firstly, when the student chooses to withdraw from their studies, and secondly, when the university withdraws a student from their course.
The end of this article has lots more information about what exactly the types of withdrawal are, and what they usually involve.
What do you do after withdrawal from university?
It can be overwhelming to sort through all the different things you need to consider after withdrawal from university.
There are a couple of immediate things to think about, such as appealing if you think you have been unfairly withdrawn by the university, and sorting out your student finance arrangements given that you are no longer studying at university. Then there are long-term plans to consider, as your previous plans had likely involved going to university for the near future.
Never fear – there are always a range of options available to you. Although withdrawal from university can be stressful, this guide is here to make the process more straightforward. Keep reading for plenty more information on some of the main paths you can now take, for all kinds of personal circumstances and types of withdrawal.
1. Appeal your university withdrawal
If your university has withdrawn you from study, and you feel this was an unfair decision and still want to continue your course, the first thing to do is appeal the decision.
The normal way to go about making a withdrawal appeal will be filling out a form, which should be available in a general ‘Appeals’ page on the university website. For instance, this page from the Manchester Metropolitan University’s website has a guide to appealing withdrawal decisions, including the necessary form.
Your appeal is most likely to be successful if you have a good explanation for whatever reason the university gave for the withdrawal. For example, there are a range of personal circumstances which could have affected your studies, causing you to repeatedly fail multiple modules or exams.
If the university was unaware of your situation, they may have seen this as lack of academic commitment and capability and withdrawn you. Ideally, you should try to inform them of any extenuating circumstances as early as possible, to prevent the withdrawal in the first place.
However, the appeals process is certainly not too late to make the university aware. It always helps to have evidence. For example, if mental health struggles were involved, speak to your doctor or university counsellor to see if they can write a note for you.
Another possible ground for appeal is if you think the withdrawal process was not carried out correctly. For example, you did not receive any warnings from the university before they withdrew you.
So, to recap: you have the right to appeal if your university withdraws you from your studies. Research your university’s appeals system on their website and fill out the necessary forms with information on why you think the withdrawal is unfair. The more evidence, the better.
Hopefully, your appeal will be successful, and you can continue your university studies.
2. Take some time out
In many cases, the best thing to do is take a short break, rather than rushing straight on to the next thing.
There may have been sudden changes to your health, family circumstances, financial situation or anything else. It’s absolutely fine to take some time to focus on your own wellbeing, rather than your studies.
Taking a break also gives you time to research your next steps thoroughly and work out which one would be best for you. You will also have more space to deal with immediate considerations, such as whether you want to appeal, and whether you need to change your student finance information.
If you’re looking for more information about taking some time out, have a look at this Think Student article that will give you more information about gap years.
3. Reapply to university
Whether you choose to withdraw, or the university enforces it, you are free to reapply to university if you wish. This may be a good option if you appealed unsuccessfully but are still determined to study at university level and get your degree. Alternatively, you may have chosen to withdraw for personal reasons that are no longer preventing your study, and you wish to return.
There are extra things to consider compared to the first time you apply for university. For example, if you were withdrawn by your university, it may not be the best idea to reapply there.
It is worth carefully going over the reasons for your withdrawal the first time around. For example, if you withdrew due to financial difficulties, you need to make sure you have the funds, or suitable student loans, for you to return to university.
Finally, make sure you are prepared to explain your withdrawal to universities – they will not want to take you on if they think you have dropped out before and will again. They may want information about extenuating circumstances, or evidence in your UCAS application that you have taken your withdrawal as a learning curve and are ready to start university again.
4. Consider other qualifications
Of course, university is not the only option. Check out this Think Student article for more discussion on whether you have to go to university in the UK.
If university just wasn’t right for you, there are plenty of other qualifications and forms of study available. Apprenticeships are growing increasingly popular, and there are various lesser known qualifications that are equivalent to university level study.
In fact, you may already have achieved a qualification if you withdraw in the later years of your study. The certificate of higher education is essentially the first year of a degree course. Check out this Think Student article.
Even if you are set on university study, it may not have to be in the traditional sense. Online learning is becoming ever more popular through platforms such as the Open University. Alternatively, part-time study may be easier for you to balance with other commitments.
If you would like to learn more about getting a degree without going to university, have a look at this Think Student article.
5. Enter the job market
You may decide that continuing studies in any form is actually not what you want to do, in which case, there is a huge job market available for you to foray into! While some jobs ask for a degree, there is certainly no shortage of careers that you can enter as a complete beginner.
The website Not Going To Uni – linked here – advertises a huge range of opportunities you will be able to access without completing your degree. Whether you want to stick to the same field as you studied in, or try something new – it’s completely up to you.
You’ve now seen 5 potential pathways to consider after a withdrawal from university. The next part of the article will discuss what the different types of university withdrawals are that you may face.
What is a student withdrawal at university?
The first type of withdrawal is one where the student has chosen to officially end their university studies. This could be for a wide variety of different reasons.
For example, the majority of students struggle to manage money while they are studying, often working to tight budgets. Some students may choose to withdraw from university because they feel they simply cannot afford it, or that the money and student debt involved is not worth the outcome of getting a degree.
Other students may withdraw from university due to personal health reasons. A new physical health diagnosis, or developing mental health struggles, may each affect a student’s ability to study effectively at university.
There are plenty of other personal reasons a student may withdraw, including family circumstances such as bereavement, or care of a family member.
Whatever your reason, the first thing to do is talk to an advisor at your university. They can help you work out what support or other options are available, and guide you through the process of withdrawal if that is what you ultimately decide to do.
Have a look at this helpful article from Think Student if you are considering withdrawing from university.
What is a university-led withdrawal?
Alternatively, the university could withdraw a student, normally because the student has repeatedly broken university conduct rules. Most people first think of behavioural issues, but while this could certainly be a reason for withdrawal, it is not the only one.
For example, the university may also withdraw a student for academic reasons, such as not turning up to any required lectures and classes or failing multiple modules.
Withdrawal is a relatively serious action for the university to take against a student. There will normally be at least two official warnings before then.
If the situation still does not improve, the university may make the decision to formally withdraw the student. (Essentially, don’t worry that if you fail a surprise test, you are going to be kicked out!)
That being said, everyone’s situation is different, and there are all sorts of reasons why a student may not be following university conduct. My best advice would be to make sure the university is aware of any personal circumstances that have the potential to affect your studies. Perhaps there are family circumstances that make it difficult for you to attend full-time lectures, for instance.
If the university withdraws you and you feel they have misjudged the situation, you may want to appeal – there is more on this later in the article.
If you would like more information about university-led withdrawals, have a look at this guide from Leeds Beckett University.
What is a course withdrawal at university?
This is another type of withdrawal initiated by the university, but it is not usually anything to do with the student. Instead, this is where a university withdraws a course, or significantly changes its content or teaching. They might do this if they do not have enough students enrolled on the course to run it normally.
If you are a student on this course, the university should help you find an alternative place. Additionally, if they withdraw the course before you start, other universities you have applied to may be willing to take you through Clearing, as it is not your fault that you no longer have your firm place.
If your course is withdrawn, your most likely next step will be to find another university place, whether that be through transferring, changing course, Clearing, or any other method. The university you had your original place at should help you with this.
For this reason, the potential paths after withdrawal later in this article may not be as relevant to this type of withdrawal. If you are looking for more information about course withdrawal, have a look at this page from the official UCAS website.
What is a temporary withdrawal at university?
This final type of withdrawal can be initiated by either the student or university. As the name suggests, it involves the student stopping their studies for a temporary period of time. This is usually a few months at a time and can be a year or longer.
Most of the situations we’ve already discussed could result in temporary rather than permanent withdrawal. For example, a university might suspend a student for a period of time before withdrawing them completely in the case of behavioural concerns.
Similarly, if a student needs to stop their studies due to personal, medical or financial reasons, they may intend to return at some point, and work out a plan with the university as to when this could be. Perhaps a student may spend a year away from university to earn money to finance their studies, or take a month out due to an emergency family situation.
Once again, the possible paths discussed later in this article may be less relevant to a temporary withdrawal, as the plan is to return to the same university. However, it is still helpful to know of all the types of withdrawal.
For more information on temporary withdrawal in particular, have a look at this page from the University of Warwick’s website. Although each university will have a slightly different policy (so make sure to check your specific university website) this will give you a good overview of likely policies.
What happens to your student finance if you withdraw from university?
If you are no longer studying at university, you don’t want to keep paying them the high tuition fees! If you are sure you are withdrawing from university (so if you are appealing, wait until this process is over before thinking about fees), you will need to stop your student finance payments.
You will have to get in contact with Student Finance England (or the relevant body if you are from another part of the UK) and tell them that you have left your course. They will stop the payments – you will no longer be paying tuition fees or receive any maintenance loan.
Nevertheless, any money borrowed from the student finance services before your withdrawal will still need paying back. The repayments work in the same way as for any other student, except you will only have to pay back what you actually used. For example, if you withdraw in the second term, you will only need to pay back half of your tuition fee loan for that year.
For full details about student finance after withdrawing from university, have a look at this guide from the government website.
Whatever path you choose, remember that withdrawal from university is not the end of the world – far from it. As this article has hopefully shown, while it may feel like a stressful experience, there are lots of options and support available to you, whatever you decide to do next!