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HEFCE closed at the end of March 2018. The information on this website is historical and is no longer maintained.

Many of HEFCE's functions will be continued by the Office for Students, the new regulator of higher education in England, and Research England, the new council within UK Research and Innovation.

The HEFCE domain - - will continue to function until September 2018. At this point we will close the site entirely and all its information will only be available from the National Web Archive.


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Undergraduate transfers in England

The majority of full-time first degree students qualify from the higher education provider that they start their course with. However, some students want or need to change their provider and so switch between institutions during their degree. Some transferring students take academic credit with them and progress to a higher year of study at their new institution, but others repeat years or start afresh.

Between 1.5 and 2 per cent of UK-domiciled first degree students in England transfer between institutions, but stay in the same subject area. This is approximately 4,000 to 5,000 students each year. Approximately two-thirds of these students start again in the first year of study, while the rest progress to a higher year of study.

Who transfers between HEIs?

Approximately 6 per cent of transferring students become distance learners and almost one in four return to their parental or own residence.

Transfer rates vary across higher education institutions (HEIs), and are highest in London, where the greater density of institutions is believed to reduce the logistical and social costs of transferring.

Students attending HEIs with a low entry tariff are most likely to transfer and those at high-tariff HEIs least likely. Few students transfer into a high-tariff HEI if they have not previously attended one.

Who transfers academic credit?

Between 2012-13 and 2014-15, 29 per cent of students who transferred between HEIs, but remained in the same subject area, went into their second year of study at the new institution. Students who transfer into year two are assumed to be more likely to be transferring academic credit than those who switch into year one.

Male, black and Asian students are less likely to transfer academic credit. Controlling for other factors, male students are an estimated 2.6 percentage points less likely to transfer into year two than female students, while black and Asian students are an estimated 7.5 and 5.7 percentage points less likely to transfer into year two than white students.

Students attending high-tariff institutions are less likely to transfer credit.

Students who switch their mode of study to part-time or who move home are more likely to transfer credit.

How well do transferring students do?

The qualifying rates for students who transfer are worse than for those who continue at the same HEI. 94 per cent of students who continue into year two at the same institution go on to qualify within six years. This compares with 67 per cent for students who transfer into year two at a different HEI, and 72 per cent for those who transfer into year one.

Students who switch to part-time study are much less likely to qualify, as are those who do not pass all of their year one modules.

View the full report and annexes of Undergraduate transfers in England, HEFCE2017/26


Please contact Rebecca Finlayson, Analysis for Policy Team, tel 0117 931 7407, email

Page last updated 4 December 2017