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My son wants to drop out of his college degree. Can he switch course?

Rules can differ across individual colleges when it comes to transferring from one course to another

My son who is in first year of college is struggling with the language part of his business degree. He would like to switch courses, but his college told him that it does not facilitate internal transfers. As a result, he’d now like to move to UCD and study his first choice of commerce. However, he missed out by just two points during the last CAO offers. What would you advise him to do?

There is no national template for how colleges deal with students who lose interest in their course or want a change. What is clear, however, is that if a college has an internal-transfer mechanism, it must have a formally adopted and published policy in place to govern this process.

During September and October each year, while the CAO is still processing offers and acceptances, any place previously allocated which become available due to a student leaving the course must be offered to the next eligible CAO applicant. Even if someone who is studying another course in that college may now want that place, the next person on the CAO list takes precedence.

It is only in the case where the CAO has completed its offers to that year’s applicants that a place which becomes available on a course may be made available to a student. Again, this assumes the college has an adopted and published policy for internal transfers.


In your son’s case, however, the college in question does not seem to facilitate internal transfers so that route is closed to him.

There are now a few options. He could continue with the first year of his existing business/language degree for the remainder of the current academic year and hope to overcome his difficulties.

If on the other hand he decides to exit his current programme, he can reapply to the CAO for 2024 entry listing commerce in UCD as his first choice, followed by other mainstream business degrees.

As you know the cut-off for commerce at UCD earlier this year was 545 points, it is possible that CAO points requirements in 2024 could drop by two or more, which would result in your son securing his first-choice course.

If that does not transpire, he will more than likely secure a second or third choice business degree programme on lower points elsewhere.

If he enters year one of a degree programme in September 2024, he may be eligible for a number of exemptions from modules.

For example, in UCD, he can view stage one content for the Bachelor of Commerce (DN650) online, and compare it to his current course content. Advice can also be sought from the relevant college/school office but they may not be in a position to give detailed advice before an application is submitted.