Getting a place at a university or other higher education provider does not guarantee that the student will finish the course and gain the qualification.
Keeping control of the size of the debt
Though the amount becomes the student’s debt, the SLC pays the tuition fee directly to the provider of the course.
This means it is important for a student who withdraws from a course to notify the course-provider at once, so that the amount of tuition fee paid by the SLC to the provider does not continue to grow and accrue interest, increasing the student’s debt.
Unless the date of leaving is clear, the student will normally have to pay back the tuition fee loan for the period when he or she remains formally registered.
The course-provider should have a clear easy-to-find procedure to be followed if a student withdraws from a course.
Discuss the options and consequences fully with the provider. Most will offer advice and guidance for students who are not sure whether to continue.
Returning to the course may be possible or it may be possible to transfer to another course with another provider.
In Matin v University College London  EWHC 2474 (Admin) (05 September 2012), a medical student had kept changing his mind about whether or not he had withdrawn.
What is the result for providers if students do not complete the course?
A recent article spells out some of the financial costs to the providers:
Les Ebdon, director of the Office for Fair Access, said the research “starkly” illustrates the costs of taking on students from a widening participation background because of the “significant loss of money” to an institution when a student drops out.
This has been partly offset by the Higher Education Funding Council for England’s student opportunity allocation, but that may not continue or may be reduced.
‘Poorer students present financial risk’, Times Higher Education, 9 January, 2013
‘How should we measure Higher Education? A fundamental review of the Performance Indicators’ (Note 1), was commissioned by the
UK Performance Indicators Steering Group (UKPISG).
There is some evidence that providers with notable success in widening participation may also experience higher rates of non-completion by their students.
Statistics are publicly available if applicants want to check. HESA statistics on non-continuation rates from first to second year and Module completion rates (for part-time students) may be found at: