Switching degrees: what to look out for
Crossroads by Andrea in Amsterdam
Deciding to change your degree course, regardless of what year you’re in, is always going to be a difficult process. Stressed out as you may come to realise uni wasn’t what you expected - or worse still - out on your year abroad and finding out you’d rather study there than back home. What options are open to you should you wish to change or switch your degree? What should you look out for?Question yourself and others
Changing courses and universities is a big step. If you’re feeling blue about being at university, have found it difficult to make friends or you’re feeling homesick, try and look at alternative routes first - there’s no point in making a drastic decision based on a few months of hardship. That’s not to say you should ignore your feelings if you’re unhappy - culture shock is also applicable when studying at university. Speak to friends and family, too, as they will be able to give you personal advice. If, after having weighed out your options, you still don’t feel at ease at your uni, make a list of the things you are looking for from your course: from module choices and disciplines to your social life and what you seek to achieve from your time studying. Any choice you make now will affect your 3 to 4 years of study, so it’s important for you to outline what you’re looking for in the long run.
Speak to your course coordinator
Whether you’re still in the UK or out on your year abroad, you need to liaise with your course coordinator from your home institution. They will give you more information regarding the process, from who you should speak to, what units or course changes can be arranged within your home institution and will be able to give you contact details from the university careers service. You should enquire with a careers advisor as to how the subsequent changes in your degree and institution will affect your life - at university and beyond. Some students decide early on that a course is not for them, switching between schools or even institutions; these choices will undoubtedly have an effect on their CV. It’s crucial that you speak to your course coordinator and careers advisor about this, so as to clear up any discrepancies within your academic and professional profile. As you will have acquired credits at your home institution, check whether you will be able to transfer these. Within European universities, the ECTS allows you to transfer your credits from one institution to another, although you need to check before hand whether your past studies will be taken into account on your new course and/or at your new institution. It is unlikely you will be able to transfer credits if you choose to study at another school (e.g. Law to Medicine), so check first. Similarly, if you choose to study outside of Europe, you need to check with your home and foreign institutions whether your past academic credits will be taken into account.
Informing UCAS and Student Finance
Once you’ve decided on your new course and institution, you need to inform UCAS and Student Finance of your choices, as these will undoubtedly affect your receipt of loans and the details you had originally supplied, at the start of your course. If you don’t inform either party of your change in plan, you could owe money and/or pay interest on loans that are no longer of use to you. Check Direct Gov for more details.