University Prospects: Withdrawing from a course: What UCAS says you can and cannot do if you have a change of heart

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The Independent Online
You can:

Pull out and re-apply for the following year

Pull out of a confirmed HND place to try for a degree

Ask your university to release you on compassionate grounds (including domestic, medical).

You cannot:

Drop a firm or insurance place to apply elsewhere for entry this autumn - that is, unless you can persuade your firm / insurance university to release you from the one you hold. The advice from UCAS to universities is to refuse your request, and it can punish them for failing to do so.

Some will, some won't:

Dr John Hill, Liverpool Institute of Higher Education admissions registrar: 'We will not release them. They either have to come here or not go anywhere this year.'

Bea Cockroft, Cardiff Institute of Higher Education: 'It's very difficult not to release students. You can't force them to come. We would try to persuade them, but at the end of the day if they want to be released we will release them.'