Student Advice

Dropping Out of Uni

Ben Maples  · Nov 29th 2021

University is not for everyone, we are the first to admit that and so are most universities. In fact, many students have dropped out and gone onto greener pastures.


Dropping out of uni doesn’t necessarily mean that you are giving up, maybe it just wasn’t for you! Some of the greatest minds in history have dropped out of university, such as Mark Zuckerberg, Kanye West, James Cameron, Bill Gates and Steve Jobs.

So is it a bad thing to drop out of uni? Well, we’ve got some useful tips for you if it is what you decide to do.

Dropping out of university

What to do when dropping out of uni

We recommend that you think long and hard beforehand. This is a decision that cannot be rushed and it’s a decision that has the potential to lead to a lot of regret if rushed, so make sure you speak to people beforehand, whether that be your student union, lecturers, friends and family before making your decision regarding dropping out of uni.

For those who are considering dropping out of uni to travel, or deferring a year at university, you will need to speak to your university about this beforehand and work out your return date.

The steps for dropping out of university itself are fairly simple. Universities have this sort of thing happen all the time, in fact, just under 14% of students over the age of 21 drop leave their degree course before their second year. What's even more interesting, is that 90% of those students leave university altogether, according to a report from Channel 4.

You will need to speak to your student advisor. The process after that will depend on the university itself; they will have their own procedures and their own bureaucratic rules for such instances. This will normally involve meeting with a member of the university and signing a declaration of withdrawal and the payment of any outstanding fees.

How much does dropping out of uni cost?

The cost will depend on the university and their dropping out procedure.

You will still have to cover your tuition fees as well as your maintenance loan. There is also a good chance that you will have to pay a cost to move your stuff out of your student accommodation. If you are living in student halls, then you will most likely need to pay the outstanding rent on the property as well.

Dropping out of uni

How to get a job after dropping out of uni

Getting a job after dropping out of uni is no different to applying for a job normally. You need to make sure that your student CV is fully up-to-date.

You don't necessarily need to mention university on your CV or at your interview, you will, however, need to account for the gap on your CV where you have no work experience.

You can mention it at your interview by turning it into a positive if you need to, something along the lines of “I went to university, but I left because I wanted to get involved in the world of work and in this industry”.

Dropping out of uni in Scotland

There are a lot of dropping out of uni options in the UK, however, in Scotland, students can incur early drop-out fees, which are usually the cost of the tuition fee for that year.

As you may be aware, student finance in Scotland works very differently from student finance in England, student finance in Wales and student finance in Northern Ireland, in that students do not have to actually pay tuition fees, since they apply directly to the SAAS, who arrange for the fees to be paid to the universities themselves.

The SAAS guidelines state that students who withdraw from their course before the tuition fee cut-off date will not pay tuition fees, however your university itself may still charge you all the same.

NUS Scotland have tried to challenge this with the SAAS, however, the situation is still not rectified. ‘Dropping out of uni SAAS’ has proven a popular search term as a result, as well as ‘How much does dropping out of uni cost?’, such is the issue surrounding dropping out of uni in Scotland.

This means students who are dropping out of Edinburgh University for example, will have to pay a fee for leaving early. So if you are thinking of dropping out of uni in Scotland, we strongly recommend that you read the SAAS guidelines, speak to your university about what the procedure is and to see if there is any chance that you can avoid having to pay any fees, make sure you know everything about your dropping out of uni repayments.

University dropping out

How will I repay my tuition fee if I drop out of uni?

Dropping out of uni and fees has proven a difficult combination to break, even for the most thrifty of students.

Most university student loans are around £9,250-per-year for a typical degree for students, so this is roughly how much you will have to pay back at the end of your first year, so just add £9,250 onto that figure every year you're at university and that will equal how much you pay back each year.

There are three terms in a university year, so you will receive a third of your overall £9,250 every term, so depending on when you drop out, you will need to pay back the fees that you have borrowed up to the point that you have studied, plus interest.

The table below shows you how much you will have to pay back each year and in each year’s corresponding term.

Year Term 1 Term 2 Term 3
First-year £2,312.50 £4,625 £9,250
Second-year £11,562.50 £13,875 £18,500
Third-year £20,812.50 £23,125 £27,750

At the time of writing, the interest is RPI + a further 3%.

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