Sometimes students find the course they’re on isn’t what they expected or what they wanted, sometimes it’s that Strathclyde isn’t for them or even that Glasgow just isn’t their kind of place.
If you find yourself in this situation, it can be difficult to know what to do. However, if you know that university has been the right decision for you, you don't want to drop out, but can't face years more study in the course you're on, you can investigate a course transfer.
There are several options when transferring course:
- Internal transfer: you stay at Strathclyde, but move to a different course;
- Change institution: you can leave Strathclyde, Glasgow or even Scotland entirely and transfer somewhere else, either doing the same course or something totally new!
To be in the best position to change course in the same academic year (Sept-June) you need to realise you want to change pretty early on. You normally only have three or four weeks before the cut off for internal transfers - after that you might have to drop out and come back the following year. This limit will be roughly the same at other universities, too, with the added complications of negotiating their admissions procedures, and potentially moving home. For this reason, a lot of students find they need to wait until the following academic year (September) to start their new course.
If you are unsure about your course, come and talk to someone about it sooner rather than later. This way, you can address what the issues are and decide whether you would like to transfer, and still potentially be able to do so in the same academic year.
Whether you are transferring at the beginning or end of an academic year, there are also some funding issues you will need to consider.
If you want to stay at Strathclyde but change courses you first need to decide what course you’d like to move to. You can get information on other courses from the University’s website. You should probably also speak to a tutor or course coordinator for the class to check that the course is definitely what you’re expecting it be, they might even let you sit in on a couple of classes to get a feel for it. More importantly they will be able to tell you if you have the qualifications to join the class and if there is room for you to join. You may also want to speak to your Advisor of Studies to get their advice on your options.
While internal transfers between departments are not unusual you need to be prepared for the fact that you might have to reapply through UCAS to get a place on your new course. Even if you are deciding to change early on, this may mean having to start the new course the following academic year. This will be increasingly likely, as the number of students applying to University has risen sharply, and courses are often fully subscribed for that year.
If you are given the go ahead to transfer internally then the process is quite simple: you write a letter to the Head of Department requesting to transfer to the course you have decided on (some Faculties use a form instead of a letter); you should then obtain a curriculum change form from Registry, deleting all your old classes and enter all the new ones; finally, you will then have to get the form signed by your new Advisor of Studies and possibly your old one, giving you permission to transfer. A lot of this part of the process will be done by Registry who will also help point you in the right direction to make sure everything gets done.
During this time you may choose to continue studying your old classes until you know for sure you are changing, or you may ask to attend your prospective classes while your transfer is processed so that if it is accepted you won’t have fallen behind. You must keep your funding body up to date with any changes to your studies.
Whether you love your course but hate Glasgow, miss home, or whether Strathclyde doesn't offer the course you want to change to, there are a myriad of reasons for moving to a different University or College. Whatever your reason there are various options, and the Advice Hub as well as a lot of the University’s Support Services are here to help you find a course and/or a university where you’ll be happier.
If you decide you need to transfer to another institution, the process is much the same whether you are moving to a very similar course or a wildly different one. A word of warning however, is that unless you know that you can’t stay at Strathclyde another minute longer it can be unwise to give up your place here without having a definite confirmation from your new Uni or College. Unless you have decided very early in the academic year that you wish to transfer, there is unlikely to be any rush for you to leave Strathclyde anyway.
Whether you’re a first year or have been here a while the first thing to do is identify where you want to go. You might have particular requirements e.g. to be near your home town (or as far away as possible from your home town!), so start off by working out the course you want, then find out the institutions that offer it, and which of these options you want to pursue. You can find out the institutions that offer the course you're looking for through UCAS, or visit the University’s Careers Service - while they might be employed by the University, they will be more than happy to help you find courses at other institutions if Strathclyde isn’t for you.
Once you’ve found a university or college you like the sound of, you need to contact them and ask about transferring. We’d normally suggest you first approach someone in the department you want to move to so you can get a feel of what their course is like. They may also be able to tell you whether it is possible to transfer to the course at the stage you want. For a better idea of what the transfer requirements are, you will probably need to speak to the institution's admissions office. You can normally find contact details for Departments and admissions services on the institution's website.
The ease with which you are able to transfer will depend on several factors, most importantly:
- What year of your course you are currently in, and the year you wish to transfer into (different institutions have different systems of accreditation and cover different things in similar sounding units and classes. This can mean that you’ll have to repeat some similar material if you move.);
- Whether the institution you wish to transfer to is outside Scotland (for Scottish students in particular, this will affect the type of funding you receive).
Sometimes if your initial course is closely related to the one you wish to do you may be allowed to transfer directly into the same year of study. This is quite rare, and you will need to negotiate with the Departments involved, but it never hurts to ask!
The effect on your student funding of changing course or University will depend on several factors:
- Your funding body. Rules are different for Scottish and non-Scottish students, so make sure you are looking at the information relevant to your funding body;
- What stage of your course you are at;
- The course you are changing to (in particular, the length of the course, and whether your old or new course have their own special funding rules);
- The institution you are moving to (your funding may change if you are moving to a college, or to a different UK or EU country).
Repeating a year
The main funding issues if you have to repeat a year due to changing your course or institution are tuition fees and any grant funding you receive. When you apply to university, you are allocated enough tuition fee support to complete your course. If you require any additional years' tuition, whether you will be given this will depend on your funding body's rules about repeat year funding. Grants are what is known as public funds, and they are closely monitored. If you leave a course part-way through a year, or if you need to repeat a year, this may affect your entitlement to a grant. Because they are public funds, grant overpayments are recovered straight away, rather than under the same conditions as the student loans. If you receive any grants as part of your student funding, you must check the impact of any change of course with your funding provider, or call in to the Advice Hub and we will help you go through this.
When you enrol on your course in September, the University confirms to your funding body that you are attending the course. However, your fees are not paid at that point. The University only requests fee payment if you remain on the course beyond a certain point in the academic year, usually around the end of November (although this changes slightly each year, so check before making any decisions). If you tell the University before this point that you do not intend to continue with the year, your funding body will not be charged any fees by the University.
This means that if you decide you need to change course before this cut off point, and let the University know this formally, you will not have used the current academic year's tuition fee funding. This will have implications for the funding available to you for your new course.
If you are SAAS funded, and have not enrolled on the second year of your course yet (i.e. you can have taken first year exams and resits. It does not matter if you passed or not) then you will be eligible for False Start funding. False Start recognises that people make mistakes in choosing their course or institution, and allows students to effectively start again. To qualify you must change your course, institution, or both (it is worth noting that very minor changes of course may not count - it is worth checking with SAAS if you have any doubts about this). You must start your new course at level 1 the following academic year.
As you can see, there can be many funding implications to changing your course. While you shouldn't let these put you off, please call in to or contact the Advice Hub if you would like assistance exploring your funding options.