Smiling male student at open day

Making the switch

Deciding if changing university is right for you and how to get started

Even though you likely spent a long time making a decision about your uni and course, sometimes things don't work out as you expected.

And that's OK. Not everyone makes the right decision about university when there's so many things to consider.

Your circumstances can change too. You might need to move to a more affordable city or closer to home, or maybe your current course doesn't offer modules that suit your career ambitions. Having the opportunity to learn from specific academic staff is another common reason to change courses.

If you're weighing up changing university, there are a few things worth thinking over before you make the switch.

Male student getting advice

Take enough time to research how your studies and costs might change when you switch unis.

Before you change university

There are a few things you should do before making the jump and changing university.

Get advice

Before you do anything, it's good to explain your situation to someone with experience of helping students with similar concerns. If you've already started your course, speak with your personal tutor. You could also get support from your University's students' union and speak with your uni's student finance team.

If you haven't started your course yet, you can get advice from an adviser or teacher at your school or college.

Consider costs

Depending on what university course you're switching to, there may be additional costs involved. So you need to factor this in to your decision.

See our advice below and talk to your Student Finance Team to see how you'll be affected.

Tuition fees and course costs

If you're a UK student, the tuition fees for undergraduate courses like Bachelor's degrees are similar across all universities. However, your tuition fee loans from Student Finance usually only cover the length of your original course plus one extra (lifeline) year.

This means a year out for changing your course or repeating a year is taken from your balance and could affect your ability to get funding for the whole length of your new course. If you have to change unis because of compelling personal reasons, your Student Finance Team can help you collect and provide evidence for this. If your evidence is accepted by Student Finance, then repeating a year when you change unis won't affect your balance.

If you're a Master's student, you're only entitled to one Masters loan from the government. So if you change course or repeat a year you won't be able to take out a second loan. It's also important to note that fees for postgraduate courses such as Master's can vary a lot between courses and universities.

Universities must display study costs on their course pages. Make sure you budget for extra costs when you decide to switch.

Maintenance loans

The amount of your maintenance loan is based on the length of your original course and where you live. If you move back home with a parents or guardian, or change to a shorter course, your maintenance loan instalments might be reduced.

When you change uni and are no longer registered on your original course, you'll be required to pay back any loans you're paid after your change. Make sure to keep account of this, as not repaying the extra money could cause your funds to be withheld next time you apply.

If losing your maintenance loan immediately after leaving a course will put you in financial difficulty, talk to your Student Finance Team. They can help you collect and submit evidence to Student Finance England in an appeal not to stop ongoing payments.

Bursaries and scholarships

Some bursaries and scholarships are only available on certain courses or at certain universities.

This might give you access to additional funding after you switch. But it's possible you might lose some of your funding too.

Living costs

The cost of living is another thing you need to consider.

If you're thinking about switching unis, bear in mind the cost of accommodation, socialising and basic food items can vary between regions and cities.

For more advice on this, see our guide to the cost of living in popular cities.

Study length

In many cases, you can switch courses at the start of an academic year without having to extend your studies.

However, you may need to study for longer if you're transferring midway through your course and can't transfer all of your module credits. And some similar courses are longer – for example, if you switch to a 4-year integrated Master's degree from a 3-year Bachelor's degree.

Female students in lecture halls

Depending on when you plan to change unis, your length of study might increase.

How to change university

If you want to change universities, each university's switching process is different.

Here's how the process works at the University of Portsmouth.

Changing at the start of your course

If you've already started studying at another university, the best way to begin the switching process to the University of Portsmouth is to contact our admissions team by email at or call them on +44 (0)23 9284 5566.

When we’ve made a decision on your application, we'll let you know if we’re offering you a place.

Course requirements

Some courses require you to submit a portfolio or attend an interview, admissions test or audition as part of your application. Some also require a successful health check or criminal records check. You can find all this information on the course page.

Starting a course late

When you change your course at the start of your studies, you might miss the first few weeks of teaching. However, please note you won't get:

  • Any discount on the year's tuition fee
  • An extension for any assessments or deadlines

If you're planning to change university mid-way through your first-year, you may have to defer your entry to the following academic year.

Changing after you've completed an academic year (undergraduate only)

If you want to join us from another university after you've completed an academic year, you need to apply online through UCAS.

When you apply, you need to specify your 'point of entry', which translates to the year you want to begin:

  • Point of entry 1 – Year 1 (Level 4)
  • Point of entry 2 – Year 2 (Level 5)
  • Point of entry 3 – Year 3 (Level 6)

As part of your application you also need to submit:

  • An updated personal statement that explains why you want to transfer, why you're right for the course and what you've learnt so far at your current institution
  • An academic reference from your current institution
  • Details of your previous study and qualifications, such as A levels and GCSEs

Once you've submitted your application we'll send you a recognition of prior learning (RPL) form. On this form, you need to list the modules you've taken so far and how many credits they're worth.

An admissions tutor will review your submissions. Whether we can accept you onto the course depends on how well the units or modules you've completed so far match the modules on our course.