Many students consider withdrawing each year for a number of reasons, academic or otherwise. The majority of them do eventually decide to stay on their programme and go on to complete it successfully.
There are lots of aspects to think about and reflect on when considering your choices. Withdrawing from your course entirely is a big decision, which will have an impact on your short-term situation and a potentially longer-term impact as well, such as on your career. There are many reasons why students consider withdrawing – financial difficulties, struggles with your health, a caring responsibility within your family. Some of these difficulties can be addressed with support from your department and Student Services, and it may be that after some discussion and planning, taking a break and interrupting your course for a time may prove to be the better solution.
In this article we’ve brought together a range of issues to consider, as well as details on who you can talk to about your concerns:
Reasons you may be considering withdrawing or interrupting
There may be a number of reasons that you’re considering taking a break from or even leaving your course. These may include:
- Struggling to adjust to student life
- Unsure the course you’re on is the right one for you
- You’re experiencing financial difficulties
- Personal or family problems may be making it difficult to study
If this is you and you’re facing these or similar challenges which is making you feel unsure about how to move forwards, please refer to our article I’m finding it hard to adjust to university life, what can I do?, which addresses these issues and more, with tips, guidance and where you can go for support.
Whether starting a family was planned or unplanned, you may find you feel confused or anxious about your situation. It is very important that you seek medical advice as soon as possible to discuss your options and seek maternity health care.
Any contact with healthcare professionals will be strictly confidential. If you are registered with the King's NHS Health Centre you can arrange to see a doctor there, otherwise you can attend your local GP surgery or visit an NHS walk-in centre.
For more guidance on what to do if you become pregnant while studying, read our article What do I do if I become pregnant while studying?
Practical and financial issues to consider
Tuition fees will be charged from the start of the academic year up to the date on your ‘Change of Registration Status’ form, even if you have not been in attendance.
If you pay your fees with a loan from Student Finance England, the university will notify them of the change and re-invoice for the correct fee. If there are any problems please contact the Money & Housing Advice Team as soon as possible.
We also have further articles with more detailed information:
For undergraduates see:
For postgraduates see:
Living in university accommodation
If you decide to withdraw from your course or interrupt your studies, it is not possible for you to remain living in Halls of Residence, although you will be given a short time to find alternative accommodation.
You will be charged for the full amount of Hall fees for the time you have been in residence. This will be calculated according to the date agreed on by you and the Residence Manager. The appropriate form to submit can be obtained from the Residence Team or your Residence Manager.
You must complete this form in addition to the online ‘Changes to Registration Status’ form. If you are living in nominated residences you will need to check their policy locally.
For undergraduates see:
For postgraduates see:
Once you formally withdraw from your programme you lose your student status and are required to pay Council Tax. If you live alone or if the rest of the household comprises of students you can apply for a 25% single person discount.
Check the relevant article for more detail:
If you are interrupting you should maintain your student discount as you remain a student until the point where you complete the course, withdraw from it or are asked to leave. If your circumstances are different or if you have some concerns about Council Tax please contact the Money & Housing Advice Team.
For a better understanding of Council Tax and what it’s for, and who is exempt, please read What is Council Tax and am I exempt from paying it?
Student Loans (Home and EU students)
If you decide to undertake a university degree in the future, in most cases you will lose one year's funding from the new course for every year (including partial years) you have previously studied, less one extra year of funding which you are currently permitted under the student finance regulations. If you undertake an NHS funded course you may get some or all of the funding on offer. We strongly encourage all students to speak to the Money & Housing Advice Team about these issues before formally withdrawing from the programme.
There are number of funding and financial implications of interrupting or withdrawing:
- Suspension or loss of Student Finance England loans
- Suspension or loss of NHS funding
- Your entitlement to welfare benefits
- Loss of Council Tax exemption
The impact of these will depend on whether you decide to interrupt or withdraw.
We strongly recommend reading our articles which address these topics in detail:
If you have particular concerns about anything, what the impact will be or if you’d prefer to speak with someone to talk over your decision in light of your particular circumstances, please don’t hesitate to contact the Advice & Guidance team, and refer to Who to talk to.
If you are an international student studying in the UK on a student visa, you need to think very carefully before making changes to your registration status, as this will have implications on your immigration status.
You should arrange to talk to the Visa & International Advice Team before taking any action. When considering withdrawing from your course, you may also wish to consult with other support services in the university before making your decision. Take a look at Who to talk to for more guidance.
If you are in the UK with a Tier 4 or student visa, then King’s College London is your sponsor in the UK. Under the terms of our licence with UK Visas & Immigration, we are obliged to inform UK Visas & Immigration if you are absent from the course, change your course of study, suspend or withdraw from your studies. For further information on the requirements you and the College need to meet, see UKCISA.
If you are an EU/EEA or Swiss student and you're looking to either interrupt your studies, transfer to another programme of studies or withdraw from your studies, please refer to our online module EU/EEA/Swiss students and Change of Circumstances.
Interrupting, deferring, suspending or withdrawing from your studies
In general, if you defer or leave your course, you should leave the UK. This is because you have a visa to be in the UK as a student, so if you are no longer studying, then your purpose for being in the UK will have changed.
Important to know: If you defer or interrupt for a long period, King’s will inform UK Visas & Immigration and they will curtail your leave. You will need to leave the UK and apply for new Entry Clearance when you are ready to come back and resume your studies.
You should always seek advice from the Visa & International Student Advice Team before deferring your studies.
If your interruption means that you will not have enough leave to finish your course and will need to extend your visa, contact an adviser for assistance.
Sometimes your tutor may suggest a “backdated” interruption. This is where the university amends its records so that your last date of attendance is stated as being in the past. This is sometimes suggested where you have been unwell and not attending classes and may help to reduce your fee liability.
Important to know: You need to be very careful agreeing to a backdated interruption, since in most circumstances you would be required to return home if you had stopped your studies in the UK. So, if your records show you interrupted several months ago but have not returned home, you could find yourself in breach of immigration rules.
If you withdraw from your studies, this will be reported to UK Visas & Immigration and your visa will eventually be curtailed by UK Visas & Immigration and you will be expected to return home. You will have to apply for new entry clearance if you decide to return to the UK to study again.
You should seek advice before doing this, as the immigration rules only allow you to study for a limited number of years.
Transferring to another institution
The rules around moving to a new institution are complicated and depend on what sort of visa you have. Students on a Tier 4 or Student visa are not permitted to Transfer internally or externally without first speaking to Visa Compliance or the Visa & International Student Advice Team.
Who to talk to
Changing your registration and deciding to interrupt your studies or withdraw entirely, is big decision and not one to be made without guidance from support from King’s.
First consider your options and talk them through with a personal tutor, the Advice Teams, Careers Consultant, parent or friend. Ask yourself what you would rather do and if you want to return to the course at a later date.
You may also wish to consider your long-term career plans and the impact your decision may have on your finances. If you are an international student subject to immigration control, it is essential that you contact the Visa & International Advice Team about how withdrawal/interruption affects your visa and right to remain in the UK.
Important to know:
- If you decide to withdraw permanently, you will have to reapply should you wish to return to the university.
- You talk should through your reasons for leaving the course with relevant support staff before you leave. This is to ensure that you are making the right decision for you, and that you are aware of any problems you may have as a consequence of withdrawing or taking a break from your studies.
There are people you can talk to discuss your situation with, and help you make a fully informed choice:
Your Personal Tutor is your first point of contact within your department if you have concerns about your progress on the course. S/he will listen to you sympathetically and make some suggestions that you may not have thought of. It may be that all you need is some encouragement or perhaps some help in planning your work schedule.
If you need academic support your Personal Tutor will be able to point you in the right direction. However s/he will not try to persuade you to stay on the programme if it is not in your best interest.
You may prefer to talk to someone outside of your department. The Advice & Guidance Team will listen in confidence and present you with your options. They can also advise on the consequences of withdrawing or taking a break from your programme in relation to funding, benefits, housing and immigration.
Students often approach the Advice & Guidance Team with practical problems that seem insurmountable and these might be affecting your ability to remain on the course. Advisers can help with debt, benefit claims and appeals, visa/immigration applications and housing issues as well as a range of other practical issues that students may have. If we are unable to assist we’ll help you to find advice from another source. All discussions are held in confidence.
Counselling & Mental Health Support Service
If personal problems are affecting your studies you may wish to speak to a Counsellor before deciding to make any changes. Counselling sessions provide a regular time and space in which to share, explore and understand the nature of your problem. The counsellor can help you to gain a different perspective on yourself and/or your problems and aid you in making choices and changes that feel right for you. Counselling sessions are private and confidential.
Find out more about the Counselling & Mental Health Support Service and how they can help.
The Chaplains are across the university if you need to discuss any personal or spiritual issues in complete confidence. You don't have to have a spiritual crisis or be a Christian to see a chaplain. They are practised listeners and have a wealth of experience of supporting people through relationship and work difficulties, spiritual and vocational issues.
Find out more about the Chaplains in the Chaplaincy.
Careers & Employability can help when thinking about the longer-term impact of your decision, for what this may mean for your career beyond university, especially in the case of withdrawal.
The Careers Advisers can talk to you and support with your career ideas and plans. Contact the team via CareerConnect.