How to help tertiary learners change their course

Tertiary student changing course

Tertiary learners need the right advice when they want to change courses.

Tertiary learners may want to change courses for a variety of reasons. Forty percent of people doing Bachelor’s degrees in New Zealand change their qualifications before they complete them.

When you talk to someone who wants to change their course, ask them a lot of questions to find out why. Then you can help them decide what their best options are.

Here are some tips on talking to tertiary learners about course changes.

Find out why the learner wants to change their course

Learners change courses for all sorts of reasons. It’s important to find out exactly why they want to change.

  • Is their course too easy or too hard?
  • Have their interests changed?
  • Is there a personal reason that is unrelated to the course itself?

Find out what steps the learner has taken

A learner has already taken the first step if they’ve asked for your help. Now find out what other steps they’ve taken.

  • Have they sought tutoring support if their course is too hard?
  • Do they know what course they’d like to change to and why?
  • Have they told Studylink and checked their equivalent full-time student (EFTS) measurement?

Pros and cons of staying or changing

Discuss all the good and bad points of the learner finishing their course instead of changing it. Make sure they have thought about all the possibilities.

  • What could be the consequences or benefits if they change their course?
  • Can they transfer credits to their new course?
  • How would their career path be affected by changing their course?

Help the learner plan their career

Ask the learner what they hope to do after they graduate.

  • Where do they want to work after graduating?
  • Do they know about all the courses available in their field?
  • Are they better off finishing their current course or changing?

Find out more


  • Studytime NZ, ‘What I wish I knew before going to uni’, 28 September 2018, (
  • Tims, A, ‘What if you have chosen the wrong degree?’, 20 November 2010, (

Updated 3 Oct 2019