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How easy is it to switch courses once I’m at university?

It is possible to switch courses at uni – but not always straightforward. It can be easier to put the time in now and make sure you’ve made the right choice...

Before you commit to a course, imagine yourself studying it for the next few years – search for a course on The Uni Guide to see how current students rate it as well as potential modules.

Even if the course looks great before you start, there's still a chance things might not work out as you planned.

So, can you switch? We asked a few universities to find out.

Can I switch to another course in my uni?

Whether or not you'll be able to switch courses will likely depend on a few things, such as the course you're studying, the one you want to take instead and the university you're at. 

It can be easier to switch courses within the same department as they could share some modules – but there would need to be enough space left for you to join.

But if you want to take a completely different degree, the chances are you'll probably have to retake the first year.

The sooner you decide, the better – you might be allowed to catch-up if you try to switch during the first term of your first year. 

It is usually possible to switch programmes within a department as there will often be some commonality in modules.

Switching to an entirely different subject, though, usually requires students to re-commence the degree programme in the first year. There is no guarantee that this will be possible as they will be considered alongside Ucas applicants. University College London

Can I transfer to another university?

While transfering universities after you've started might sound tough, it can actually be done during your first year – but there will need to be enough space on the course and you have to meet the entry requirements. 

It will vary based on the university, but you could switch after your first semester (the equivalent to half an academic year) if you've got enough credits from your current university.

Basically, you have to be completing the work you've been given on your current course in order to be up to pace when you switch universities.

Generally we are open to transfers from either within the university, or from outside the university during the first year, subject to spaces being available and the applicant meeting the standard entry requirements for that particular course. 

As we run on a semester basis rather than in terms, the timing of transfers can be quite delicate as students will need to present a certain number of credits by the start of the semester. University Of Chichester

Don’t rely on the possibility of switching

So it's possible to change your course – or even your university – but there aren't any guarantees. A few things would have to go in your favour, like the timing of your switch and there being enough places left for you to join.

It would be even harder if you're studying a competitive course like medicine. It's a good idea to have a back-up plan in case you can't secure a switch.

You could stay on your current course for a bit longer to see if things work out, or – if you're really unhappy with your course – you could consider dropping out and starting again somewhere else next year.

Our general advice to students tends to be to not to rely on being able to do so. Most universities do their best to accommodate transfers but this isn't always possible – particularly where the transfer would take the student onto a very competitive programme already full to capacity. For example, it would be unusual for someone to secure a transfer into medicine.

Where transfers can be accommodated, the general rule is the earlier the better - there is obviously a point beyond which too much teaching has been missed. University Of Bristol

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