Can you drop out of college in the UK? 

Higher education isn’t always in the cards for everyone. Many students may end up dropping out of college because of a lack of passion in what they’re doing or because they feel the heavy investment won’t really pay off for them. In the United Kingdom, around 14% of students end up quitting their degrees without completing them. In this article we shall see if you can drop out of college in the UK? 

There are no legal restraints preventing students from dropping out of college in the UK. Education is compulsory in the UK till a child is 18 years old. After this, no one can force you to continue your studies. While there may be some repercussions in terms of having to pay back some of your financial loans if you drop out, the process itself is pretty easy. However, before you choose to drop out of college you should think very carefully about your decision because leaving college early can have a lot of negative consequences on your life. 

Can you drop out of college in the UK? 

Process: How Drop Out of College in the UK

Think About It

Dropping out is not a small decision. Think about it very carefully and weigh all of your options. Dropping out could mean you’re not able to get into any advanced careers in later life, are you okay with that? What’s your plan after exiting university? Think about these questions very carefully. Consult your academic advisors, talk to family, and talk to people who have already dropped out so you know the consequences of your decision. 

Talk to Your Advisor

Universities generally provide students with an advisor who is supposed to help them through the challenges of college. If you’re thinking of dropping out, this is the person you should contact. Your advisor will tell you all the paperwork you have to go through in order to drop out and they will likely help you figure out what to do after you drop out as well. 


Dropping out of university can be pretty expensive. The university will assess your finances and if you have any financial aid then they will contact Student Finance England. This aid assessment might require you to pay back some of the money you may have gotten. If you’re a Scottish student, then you might not have to pay back your aid but you will likely still be charged some sort of fee by the university for dropping out. 

If you were a scholarship student then you might even have to pay your scholarship money back as well. If you left in the middle of a term, you will still have to pay the entire fee for that term.

Things to Consider Before Dropping Out 

What’s the Plan? 

For most students, finances are the biggest reason for dropping out of college. However, dropping out can mean that you won’t be eligible for a lot of really high level careers. Sure, people like Mark Zuckerberg dropped out of college, but that was because they had very concrete plans about what they would do afterwards. Talk to your career advisor, talk to your family, and consult with people in the field you might want to go into. Make sure you’re sure of what you’re going to do next, so you know that your decision won’t jeopardise your future. 

Taking A Break 

If you’re dropping out because your academics have stressed you out or are taking a toll on your mental health, there are other options that you can consider. Instead of completely dropping out of college, you also have the option of taking a break. Talk to your academic advisor and tell them you want to freeze a semester. This will allow you to take some time off and then return after a semester. 

If you want a longer break you could also take a gap year. Gap years can be great because they allow you to build up experiences that can be useful in job-seeking later on in your career. 

Switching Your Major 

If you’re thinking about dropping out because you’re not liking your academic experience, you should consider switching your major. Maybe college itself isn’t the issue and instead you’re just pursuing a major you’re just not compatible with. Explore courses from other majors and see if those are more your style before you make the drastic decision of dropping out. 

Online Classes

If you have personal issues or some sort of problem that prevents you from being able to come to university, you could always try online classes. This option is great because it’ll give you a flexible schedule and you’ll be able to take classes from the comfort of your home. All you have to do is simply transfer the credits from your current college to a university that offers online classes. 


Dropping out of UK universities is an easy enough process – all you have to do is talk to your academic advisor to get the process started. However, even though you may be able to leave university, you will still have financial commitments to the university and to governmental student finance organisations. Make sure you flesh these out with your advisor before you make the decision to leave so that you’re sure you won’t be stuck in a financial web after dropping out. 

There are also a lot of options you can consider instead of dropping out, such as transferring, freezing a semester, and switching your major. Be sure to exhaust as many options as possible before you decide to drop out as this can be a really life changing decision


Do I not have to pay my loans if I drop out in the UK?

No, you will still have to pay back the loans you took. Depending on what term you dropped out in, you will have to pay back the cost of every term you spent in university. 

Can I rejoin my degree after dropping out? 

This depends on the university. A lot of universities do allow students to rejoin where they left off after dropping out. 

Does dropping out hurt your career?

Generally, students who drop out of university will earn lesser wages than those who choose to remain. However, this doesn’t have to be the rule: if you drop out and you have a concrete career plan then leaving university might not be a bad decision for you.