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Programme change/suspension

Change of programme

The first rule for Tutors when their tutees see them about a change of degree programme within Bridges Hallthe University is not to 'approve' it or imply that it will be approved, yourself. While we all want to be as supportive and helpful as we can when a student appears to have genuine reasons for wanting to change their degree programme, there may well be equally genuine reasons why this is not possible or not acceptable. The University is put in a difficult position when a Tutor has given or has appeared to give, assent but the School or Faculty is unable to grant approval for the change. 

The second rule is to refer any student wishing to change programmes to the Faculty Director of Administration/Sub-Dean of the student's Faculty initially by email from the student or by the Personal Tutor on the student's behalf. The Faculty Director of Administration/Sub-Dean can then obtain full details about the request, discuss it with the Tutor, the School responsible for the programme requested and where appropriate, negotiate with the relevant Faculty Director of Administration/Sub-Dean if the programme is in another Faculty.

The Tutor should of course talk initially to the student about the proposed change to see whether it appears reasonable and sensible. The Tutor will also need to be prepared to report to the Faculty Director of Administration/Sub-Dean on the student's academic progress and to give an opinion about the request.

There may be more detailed rules or guidelines within each Faculty about changes of programme and the Faculty Director of Administration/Sub-Dean can provide these on request.

Because of the particular uncertainty about requests to change programmes at the start of the first year it should be noted that changes to programmes in Part One which involve changing modules after the fifth week of the Autumn Term will be permitted only in exceptional circumstances.

It should also be noted that first year students have the right to change to a different degree programme if they qualify for it in the Part One examination.

Student Services Centre and change of programme

Any student who is seriously considering the possibility of a programme change must be advised to speak to a member of the Advisory Team in the Student Services Centre, as any such changes (especially if the student has previously attended another university or if the change involves a repeat period of study or extension to the length of the programme) can have significant student support implications which need to be discussed. Appointments can be made by contacting the Helpdesk in the Student Services Centre. The University is also required to inform the Local Authority (LA) of a transfer of programme and to recommend the transfer.

If a student changes degree programmes they will, where necessary, be re-allocated to a new Tutor associated with the programme they will be pursuing.

Programme suspension

Programme suspension means that students are allowed to interrupt their programme of study for a given period of time, normally a full Academic Year though sometimes permission may be given for shorter periods. Suspension is usually on medical, psychological, or personal/financial grounds, in short, anything which may be seen to have a negative effect on performance and progress. Sometimes students are allowed to suspend exceptionally in order to gain relevant work experience or to further their career prospects in some purposeful way. Suspension may be requested by or required of a student or emerge as an option for wider consideration following discussion with their Tutor. It can be a useful interim measure for students who may be contemplating withdrawal due to pressure of circumstances.

Any student who suspends should be in good academic standing and permission cannot normally be given to students who have failed an official University examination.  Equity and fairness to others are also important criteria.  Students cannot be allowed to 'take a year out' simply in order to catch up with their work, if the backlog is due to their own negligence. In practice suspension is rarely refused but the University is quite clear that it is not a right and students are allowed to suspend only for good reason. 

A student wishing to suspend should in the first instance discuss it with their Tutor. If it appears to be a reasonable option, the student should be referred to the Faculty Director of Administration/Sub-Dean, initially by email from the student or by the Personal Tutor on the student's behalf. It is vital that Tutors do not commit themselves to anything until the case has been considered at Faculty level.

Student Services Centre and programme suspension

If suspension seems appropriate the Faculty Director of Administration/Sub-Dean will consult with and send the student to the Advisory Team in the Student Services Centre since suspension will probably have significant financial implications. If the student wishes to proceed with suspension after these discussions, they will normally be required to put the request in writing by submitting an Extenuating Circumstances Form through their School/Department to the Faculty Director of Administration/Sub-Dean. Conditions may be imposed which the student will have to meet before re-entry will be permitted. There may also need to be changes to the student's programme of studies following return from suspension and these will also have to be included in any agreement to suspension.

Following formal agreement, the Advisory Team in the Student Services Centre will send the student a Letter of Permission to Suspend. When a student is ready to apply for re-entry, they must write to the Advisory Team in the Student Services Centre in accordance with the letter, providing any required evidence of fitness to return. Once the Advisory Team in the Student Services Centre is satisfied that any conditions for return have been met, they will write to the student and send copies to the Faculty Director of Administration/Sub-Dean and the Tutor. The Tutor may need to ensure that arrangements are in place to monitor the student's progress following re-entry.

It should be noted that, in advising a student on possible suspension, the Advisory Team in the Student Services Centre will be able to discuss the timing of programme suspensions and repeat periods of study in relation to cut-off dates for fee payment, repayment of loans etc. The Local Authority (LA) or Student Loans Company may not always be willing to fund a repeat period unless there are compelling reasons and the Advisory Team in the Student Services Centre will need to discuss this with the student and make a case on their behalf. Students repeating a year are normally eligible for the non-means-tested part of the student loan in any case. Where the student suspends for a full year, the LA support is simply frozen. As student support regulations are complex, Tutors should leave any negotiations with LAs to the Advisory Team in the Student Services Centre to ensure that the student's position is properly safeguarded.

The Advisory Team should also contact the Faculty Director of Administration/Sub-Dean regarding academic input from Schools/Departments relating to any programme changes and module options available.

Extenuating circumstances

If a student feels there are extenuating circumstances which have affected their performance in assessment, they are responsible for submitting an Extenuating Circumstances Form to his or her Support Centre, together with the required official supporting evidence. The Extenuating Circumstances Form is available from Support Centres and from the web at

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