Student Advice

How to transfer universities

Ben Maples  · Oct 2nd 2023  · 6 min

Transferring universities is a lot more common than you think it is. Many students find, once getting to their uni of choice, it isn’t exactly as they would have hoped.


Of course, it's unbelievable for anyone to think that all students going to university will love their time there. Many students look to transfer universities if they have the chance. The reasons for transferring can be for anything from needing a change of scenery to transferring to another university that offers a better course.

Transferring universities

How to transfer universities

The process varies depending on the university and its processes. First, identify a course you want to study at a different university. Once selected, you must speak to the admissions team at your current university or new one. From there, they will tell you how to apply.

The admissions team at your new university will ask for a “transcript” of the credits you received in your first year. They will also ask for some information on the subjects you are studying.

From there, it is up to the university as to what they do next. You may be called in for a university interview or asked to fill out online application forms, known as APLs (Accreditation of Prior Learning).

Do I need to re-write my personal statement to transfer universities?

You don’ necessarily need to re-write the personal statement. It will ultimately depend on where you’re attending and what you will be studying. For example, you should be okay if you are currently studying a biology degree and want to study the same course at your new university. However, if you're going to switch from Biology and begin looking at computer science courses, your personal statement must be rewritten.

Either way, we recommend that you re-write your personal statement. If you're changing course subjects, it’s likely your existing personal statement won’t fit the criteria of your new course. It also may not appeal to the new universities values and may even refer to your current university. It’s best you remove these references!

Remember, your personal statement is all about you. Your personal statement should properly reflect you as a student and the course you are applying for, so you should change it if you transfer universities.

Why you might transfer or drop out of university

The reasons for transferring or dropping out of university are unique to each case. For some, it may be that they feel overwhelmed. Others may want to try a new course, and others may decide university just isn’t for them.

The most important thing is to consider why you may want to drop out or transfer. If the reasons make sense to you, then it’s something you should address . It may be that you enjoy studying and the passion for a subject, but the experience at your current university just isn’t right for you. Is it that you want to be closer to home? Moving closer to your loved ones can be a great comfort.

There are no right or wrong reasons to transfer universities. Make sure you take the time to explore your options, chat to friends or family and, ultimately, make the right decision for you.

Things to consider

Any of the following may apply if you drop out or transfer universities:

  • Finding new student accommodation at your new university may be challenging.
  • It may be tough to re-apply through UCAS, especially if you have yet to pass the current academic year.
  • Transferring may not be an option. You may need to re-apply all over again in the next application, cycle.
  • You may be required to repeat your new university's first year.
  • You may need to cover your own accommodation costs unless someone can take your place.

Make sure you determine whether any of these will apply to you before making any moves. Talk to the university you’re transferring to see if they can support in your adjustment and ask any questions about re-applying.

Do your research

This is a big decision, and you’ll want to make sureyou’e prepared for whatever may be thrown your way. This means looking into the transfer policy of your university, liaising with your lecturers and admissions team, speaking to the university you want to move to and speaking to the Student Finance Company.

The more research you do, the better prepared you will be. Make sure this is something you really want to do. It may be good to ask yourself some important questions, such as…

Why do you want to move?

This is the most important. Does the reason you want to move on seem real? Does it make sense? Are these reasons enough to embark on this path? How does moving to the next university and changing your course solve these problems?

These may also be questions you want to answer in your new personal statement.

Do your grades match the entry requirements?

You would be surprised how few students consider the university entry requirements before committing to the idea. This does not necessarily spell the end of your journey, however.

Some admissions teams have been known to take lower entry requirements if you are already at university. It’s not always very likely, but you don’t know until you ask! Make sure you re-input your UCAS tariff points before you do this.

When do you want to transfer?

It’s important to familiarise yourself with the terms used in his process. Students who are moving in their first year are considered to be a “false start” and is the most common time to change universities. If you are transferring in your first year, you must be aware that you may need to re-apply altogether.

Those in the second year must provide information about their studied modules. This may mean providing a transcript of all of your work at the university so far.

Your student loan

Have you considered how your student loan will be affected? Speak to the Student Finance Company and see how your finances will be affected moving forward. This is definitely something to consider if you’re moving after your first year, as there’s a limit to the number of years you can study with the support of a student loan.

Transferring course credits

Do your course credits transfer over? Some universities may not recognise the credits you have earned and may not honour them on your new course. You want to transfer over as many as possible to make sure as much of your hard work is still accounted for.

Transferring unis

Transfer to a UK university from abroad

Transferring from a university abroad to a UK university is pretty straightforward! The process will depend on your current university and the university you plan on joining.

You will need to speak to the university you want to join and see if they will allow this. Assuming this is permitted, you will then need to apply through UCAS, whether that is using UCAS Extra or using UCAS Hub; your potential university will talk to you through the process. Transferring universities through UCAS is a necessity.

You must go through UCAS regardless of where you are transferring from. If you want to study in a different country, you must speak to the university in the country you wish to study in and work out the transfer process from there.

Is it worth transferring universities?

Only you can know this. Transferring universities will depend on the circumstances themselves. Moving universities is a good idea if you are having a tough time at university, but it will all depend on you making the best of it.

You need to ensure that what you have a strong reason for transferring uni. Don’t just change for the hell of it; think through your decision, speak to friends, family and course tutors before you make a decision.

How does student finance work when transferring universities?

You will need to speak to the Student Finance Company beforehand and explain the situation. From there, you will gain more insight into what happens next.

Generally, you will need to pay the full term’s tuition fees. This will be true for almost all cases of transferring universities (or dropping out), regardless of the time you choose to do it.

You need to be aware of the Plus One rule. The Plus One rule is the name given to how student finance usually operates. Generally, when you are seeking funding for a new course, your funding will also include taking into account your previous study. Therefore, your finance will be worked out as the course duration “plus one year”. This is why transferring in the first year is more advisable, as your student finance will not be affected.

There are, however, some things to consider, such as:

  • You will have used up the Plus One year even if you didn’t complete an entire year.
  • Repeating a year may mean having to pay tuition fees yourself.
  • You may not be able to get a tuition fee for your new course.

Student Finance bodies do have some leeway. If you were forced to make the change because of personal reasons, such as a bereavement, that come under mitigating circumstances, then you will likely have some help afforded to you, but this is at their own discretion.

How to transfer course credits

It is not always possible to transfer course credits. If you’re applying to a different course at the same university, then you may be permitted to transfer your course credits, so long as the two courses are related in some way.

As for applying to a new university, it will depend on where you are applying. Some universities will allow you to transfer credits, while others may not.

If you can’t transfer your credits, then things may be expensive. This means you will need to pay full price for an incomplete degree without the potential full financial aid.

How to completely drop out of university

Hey, we get it; university isn’t for everyone. There are lots of different reasons that students may drop out of university. You can drop out immediately by simply informing your university that you wish to drop out.

However, be aware, you will still have some things to consider before doing this. You may still be liable for the remaining course costs and any accommodation you are using. You may also be liable for student council tax.

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