Changing university or changing university course

Feeling like you’re on the wrong course or at the wrong uni can make life pretty miserable. But don’t lose hope. If you really hate your course, or just the place you’ve picked, there are things you can do to change your situation. Here’s our take on changing uni and/or changing your course.

A young woman is talking to her friends. She is thinking about changing university course. This is a wide-angle image.

Usually when people are considering changing university or changing university course, it’s down to one or more of the following reasons:

I don’t like my course

We know it sounds impossible but you could be churning out first-class essays and acing exams, and still hate your course. If it’s the actual subject that’s sending you to sleep, it’s time to talk to your course tutor, careers advisor, or student support/welfare officer. They’ll be able to help you figure out what your next move should be.

Changing university course after your first year is defo possible. Just keep in mind that it’ll mean a lot of catch-up work for the first couple of weeks. You may even be able to change course before the end of your first year if you speak to someone about your feelings during your first academic year of study.

Regardless of when you have the convo, you’ll need to be prepared to explain why you don’t like your current course and have valid reasons for wanting to switch courses. This may sound a bit tedious but we promise that thinking and talking these things through will help you decide your next step.

I like my course, but I’m failing it

Did you get bad first-year exam results? It may seem easier to just blame the subject and make a change, but we recommend trying to work through it. In fact, you shouldn’t really think about changing university course until after first year. Then you’ll really get a feel for what it’s like before making any major changes. Again, talk to your tutor – the more open you are about your poor performance, the better your chance of getting the help and support you need. 

You may even be able to retake exams, or get extra help with studying if you’re finding the course challenging. Alternatively, if you’ve given it your best shot but still want to do a different course at the same university then you’ll need to come up with a good explanation for why you would perform better if you made the switch. 

I want to change university

It may be more than just the course – it could be the way your uni works that you can’t stand. Don’t worry, plenty of people are in the exact same boat. If you do decide you want to transfer universities, UCAS has information about how to change university. Your first step should always be to contact the admissions team of the university you have in mind to see if they accept transfers and if they would consider taking you.

The most important part of this process is research. You’ll have to do a lot of digging to check if a new university has got what you need to make you happier. For example, are you looking for a smaller campus? Better facilities? Closer distance to home? Moving is a big decision, so think it through and write down the pros and cons of your current and preferred location. 

It’s also worth having a chat with the National Careers Service. They can talk you through future careers and learning options, as well as offer advice on funding. You’ll most likely have to pay an extra year of tuition fees and sort out your maintenance loan. So you should make it a priority to contact the student loans company too. 

When changing university or changing course could be the right step

Sometimes the realisation that you’re on the wrong track can send you in a completely different direction altogether. And it can change your life in the best way possible.

Daniel, 18, hated his BTEC course. “I wasn’t really interested in what I was studyinglooking back it honestly felt like I was wasting the year,” he says.

After talking to his tutors, Daniel made the difficult decision to drop out. “I was worried I wouldn’t find anything else I wanted to study. Luckily, I saw an Advanced ICT Apprenticeship advertised in the paper. I checked it out online and it looked perfect for me,” he says. “I’m so relieved I found something I really wanted to do.”

When not to change university or university course

Despite not enjoying her course, Nicola, 21, thinks that finishing her degree was the right decision for her.

“I studied Accounting because people told me it was a good choice, but I found it a real struggle. There was actually lots of reading for essays instead of just working with numbers which I just wasn’t prepared for,” she says. “I felt too shy to talk to my tutors about how I was feeling. Plus, it seemed too difficult to change course; especially since I’d already passed the year and didn’t want to waste it. So I decided to stick with it.”

“I probably should’ve done more research beyond what I needed for my personal statement before choosing it, and maybe even some work experience.But I’m happy I’ve got my degree.”

How can I make my uni life better without doing something drastic?

Student life can be stressful at the best of times, so there could be a number of things making you unhappy. For instance, if something traumatic is going on in your personal life, it might also be affecting the way you feel about the course. In these situations, confiding in a friend, tutor or university counsellor can really help. You can also read our article on looking after your mental health at university for some extra support.

And sometimes it’s something as simple as having trouble making friends. If you haven’t met anyone in halls or clicked with anyone on your course, that doesn’t mean you’re destined to be alone. Maybe try getting involved in a society, join a sports team or volunteer – all of these are great ways to make friends!

More support if you’re considering changing course or university

If you’re looking for some extra resources, you can always try: 

  • Sharing your feelings on our discussion boards, You’ll find plenty of people have had similar experiences to yourself. 
  • Checking out UCAS website. The UCAS application process is your one-stop shop for all things getting-into-uni related– from the very first form, right through to results day. So it’s defo worth looking at if you want to dig into your options in more detail.
  • Getting a bit more information about places you’re interested in through Whatuni?a site that offers advice on picking a university and student life, written by students.

Next Steps

  • UCAS processes your university applications - from the very first form, right through to results day.
  • Whatuni? offers advice on picking a university and student life, written by students.
  • Chat about this subject on our Discussion Boards.



By Nishika Melwani

Updated on 10-Apr-2022