Thinking of leaving?

Many students think about leaving university at some stage during their studies. If anything is bothering you or you are thinking about leaving, please speak to a member of staff to explore and understand what you can do. You can speak to your personal tutor, or see the contact details at your campus listed below. 

There may be other options such as additional help (perhaps advice on how to improve your academic skills), a temporary suspension of studies or transferring to another programme.

On these pages you will find a range of information and advice that can help you if you are thinking about leaving.

Help and advice

Overcoming obstacles to studying successfully on your programme

The University has created an A-Z guide to help you find the best way to study successfully. It provides a range of information and advice, and it can help you to find answers to your concerns or queries.

Nobody knows about the obstacles Heriot-Watt students can face better than recent Heriot-Watt students. Heriot-Watt has introduced an innovative new global support service for undergraduate students, a team of Student Success Advisors, all of whom are recent Heriot-Watt graduates. The advisors are based in Student Wellbeing and are available to offer help and advice to students both face to face and via myHWU. 

More information and contact information can be found on the Student Success Advisor webpage.

Changing elective courses

It may be possible to change option courses within your programme, either ones you are currently studying (up until the end of the second week of the semester) or future options. This may enable you to study more of the courses you feel more comfortable with. You can talk to your Personal Tutor about this for advice. You can change your course by using the course swap option on Student Self-Service, further guidance can be found on the Change course, programme or campus webpage.

Worried that you are on the wrong programme?

You might find it helpful to consider what Careers options are open to you on your current programme or to think about the career options open to you if you are considering an alternative programme.

Our Careers Advisors will be happy to discuss these with you. Get in touch or make an appointment through the Careers tile on the myHWU student portal.

Tel: 0131 451 3391
Book an appointment online

Take a break from studying

In certain situations it may be most helpful to you if you suspend your studies temporarily. It sometimes helps to take time out to deal with issues that are stopping you studying effectively – this might be a health or personal issue – and return to University at an agreed date.

Temporary Suspension of Studies (TSS) can be applied for and approved on the basis of genuine medical, personal, financial or academic reasons or military service.

Change of mode

Is there scope on your programme to study part-time instead of full-time? Would it make a difference to you if you could?

You should talk to your personal tutor about this. If you are unsure who your personal tutor is you should contact your School Office. There will be funding implications if you change your mode of study and you should seek advice from your funding body about the financial support you would be entitled to as a part-time student.

Transfer to another programme at Heriot-Watt

It might help you to consider transferring to another programme at Heriot-Watt. The following check list could help you with this decision:

  • Think carefully about what you want to study instead
  • Access all sources of information about any alternative programme. Find out who the programme contact is, what the entry requirements are and what careers it might lead to. You can find out the programme contact by contacting the School Office. Find out if you would you have to repeat a year.
  • Talk to programme staff and students who are currently studying the programme.
  • Remember, it is not guaranteed that you will be allowed to transfer to a different programme.
  • If you are able to transfer, make sure you complete the correct forms and have the appropriate approval. Your new programme leader can advise you on this.
  • You may have to repeat a year on your new programme, e.g. start again at Year 1, in which case you should check with your funding body what financial support will be available if you do this. Repeat funding can sometimes be offered but this will depend on your circumstances.
Transfer to a programme at another university

Maybe another university offers a course more aligned to your interests. The following check list could help you to decide if moving to another university would be for you:

  • Think about what you want to study
  • Make sure you research your options, check university websites or paper prospectuses and discuss your options with Admissions staff.
  • You may find it helpful to make an appointment with the Careers Advisor.  You can book an appointment online via the myHWU student portal.
  • Undergraduates students will have to apply through UCAS to undertake a new degree.  Find out further information about making a UCAS application. The UCAS deadline for applications for the next academic year is 15th January and if you apply after this date you may have to wait for entry for the following year. Please note, that some programmes have earlier deadlines and you should check the UCAS website for these dates. However, there may be vacancies on the programme you are interested in available through Clearing and you should speak to Admissions at your chosen university about this.
  • You should also check whether your new university will offer you any accreditation of prior learning, i.e. any recognition for what you have studied already. You may gain advanced entry if your new programme is similar to your old one, for example, you may be offered Year 2 entry if you have studied Year 1 in a similar subject at Heriot-Watt. However, this is the decision of your new university.
  • You may have to repeat a year on your new programme, e.g. start again at Year 1, in which case you should check with your funding body what financial support will be available if you do this. Repeat funding can sometimes be offered but this will depend on your circumstances.
  • If you are in the UK on a Tier 4 student visa you should check what the visa implications will be if you decide to take a break/ leave Heriot Watt. You can speak to an International Student Advisor about this through the Student information desk
Exploring non-University options

It may be that you want to explore options such as seeking employment or a voluntary placement. A good place to start would be discussing your plans with a Careers Advisor. You can find out the full range of help and support available on our Careers Service pages.

Data and Privacy

To help any student contacting Thinking of Leaving we will record your student details, the information you tell us and the advice we give. This is to ensure continuity in the support we are able to offer and to internally monitor the service we provide.

With your agreement, we will share information with other University staff - if required - to ensure you receive appropriate support. However, we reserve the right, in accordance with the University's duty of care to our students, to share information about you without your prior agreement if we believe you to be a risk of harm to yourself or others.

Aggregated or individual data may be used for statistical or analytical purposes, including in written reports used by the University, but any data used in this way will be anonymised and no individuals will be identified.

By using the Thinking of Leaving service you are consenting to the above.

Visit our Privacy and your data rights pages for further information about how the University uses data about students.

Contact us

You can contact us by using the emails below, we can advise you by email and/or arrange a meeting with you in person or via Microsoft Teams.

Key information

Edinburgh Campus: Student Advisors

Scottish Borders Campus: Student Advisor

Orkney Campus

Student Service Centre - Dubai Campus

Student Service Centre - Malaysia Campus

+603 8894 3610