Student in lecture theatre sitting behind a book

Started your Anthropology degree and, finding that it’s not what you expected want to switch to your favourite subject at school, English, and something you know very well? Perhaps you are asking whether this is possible, and here are a few answers to your likely concerns.

Most universities are open to students who transfer courses from their own university and other universities, however the course has to be either the same (across different universities) or equivalent. For example, I remember specifically being told at an LSE open day that Philosophy students could in no shape or form transfer to Law once they started. But going from Anthropology to English will most likely be OK.

Switching won’t be a pain-free ride, however it’s more important for you to get things right and enjoy your university experience, even if you do get off to a false start, than go through three years studying something you regret.

Think about whether switching course is the right decision for you, and why you don’t like it. Is it the university course in itself and the work involved that you find difficult and/or dull? Or are you finding there is too much emphasis on certain modules? Will your decision make your current worries go away? And can you face studying your new degree for the next few years?

The student loans system offers you the opportunity for a change in direction after the end of your first year and you are entitled to an additional year of finance in case of long-term illness or a false start.

Switching within your university

Once you’ve made your decision let your university know as soon as you can that you want to move onto a different course – you can do this through your personal tutor and he or she will let you know how the official process works. If you’ve entered with the correct grades, in the very first month, most universities let you switch subjects, but once you are a few months in it’s likely that you’ll have to start again.

It’s easier to switch to a subject in the same department and before you make your decision pop along to some of the subject’s lectures you are interested in to see whether it’s definitely the right choice.

Even if you are not happy on your course, keep up the work as your new tutors will want to see how well you are getting on, as they might have new students through UCAS whom they feel are better suited to their course.

Transferring to a different university

Whether you can join a different university will depend on whether they have spaces on their course to accommodate you and whether they feel the qualifications you’ve got currently are transferable. It’s likely that you’ll only be able to transfer at the end of a term and you may find yourself taking on a bit of extra work at your new university to get yourself up to scratch.

If you’ve got a university you are interested in, ring them up and ask them whether it would be possible, and if it is how the process of transferring works. It's likely that you'll have to tell them about what you are currently up to, what course you want to change to (if it's not the same one), why you want to change, how you are doing at university currently, and what your A-level grades were. Again remember that you’ll have to swap like for like – if you are currently studying at a university lower down the league tables it’s unlikely that you’ll be accepted into a top 20 university, but Nottingham might well take on ex-Edinburgh students. You might want to let a couple of your lecturers know that you are thinking of moving as you might have to send a letter of recommendation along with your application.

Once you’ve found a university that will accept you take time out to go and look around it and see whether it really is the place for you.

Also remember to keep your grades up, however much you’re finding it difficult. Your new university will want to see how you are getting on and the more promise you’ve shown in your current university the more likely they will be to accept you.