Getting what I can from a course I dropped out of.
January 13, 2013 2:49 AM   Subscribe

Advice on contacting a university about credits from a half-completed MA (UK Higher Education filter).

I started a part-time two-year MA in 1996. The course was discontinued after a year and I was the only student on the course in the second year. I struggled and dropped out about a term into the second year. I didn't talk to my tutors about this, just vanished. The university wrote to me about a year after I left to suggest that I get in touch about converting my credits to a Diploma. I wasn't interested in the time but would now like to retrieve something if I can.

My head of department and tutor are both no longer at the university. I have looked at this question: I skipped out on my degree which seems the most similar to my situation, and see the advice to request a copy of my transcript, though that's US advice so I'm not sure if the same would apply here.

If it matters, I'm not planning to use the qualification professionally, I'd just like to get something from the work I put in and to reframe a bit of my past about which I feel bad.

My questions are:

(a) is this worth doing or is there likely to be some statute of limitations meaning that credits from fifteen years ago will no longer be valid?

(b) Whom should I write to - the current head of department, or is there someone in an administrative role or outside the department I would be better off contacting?

(c) Any suggestions about wording? I don't want to come off as entitled to anything as I realise I mucked up by vanishing.

Thanks for your help.
posted by sock of ages to Grab Bag (5 answers total)
Ring the university's registry - they deal with student records, and they should be able to tell you if they are able to help you with something from 15 years ago. Calling them with an informal enquiry seems a better start than a formal letter. They should then be able to tell you how to make the formal request.
posted by Coobeastie at 2:58 AM on January 13, 2013 [1 favorite]

Yeah, the registry should have your record and be able to tell you how many credits you have, what marks you got etc, which might impact on your grade, if they don't then ask them to check with the department. If they can't turn anything up then you might have to dig into their complaints procedure but don't worry about that for now.

Usually a UK MA will consist of 120 credits of taught material and a 60 credit dissertation. If you got to xmas in the second year then I would have expected you to have got about 90 credits, depending on whether you finished to the end of the module in the first term of year 2. However, not everywhere runs to this schedule. I would certainly expect you to have got 60 credits in the bag from your first year.

Students not completing a Masters dissertation can usually use their 120 credits of completed modules to get a PostGraduate Diploma or PGDip. I think you can get some kind of certificate for having less than 120 credits, but the value of this is marginal. The other thing you might do is to talk to Registry (or maybe get put through to admissions) to see whether you can get enough credits to get to a PgDip, or if you were so inclined to even take a dissertation and get a full Masters degree. If you university isn't up for this then the credits may be considered as potentially contributing to you working towards a degree at another institution, though this will be entirely within the purview of the new institution. The Open University would be one option for getting the extra credtis, though in my experience they can be a bit funny about partial M level study it might still be worth talking to them.

The advantage of completing a PgDip or MA with your credits would be that it would (a) be given now, so potetniually would enhance your CV (b) would have more value than the certificate, which I have to say is not generally considered to be worth a lot.

I second calling them rather than sending a letter, universities don't like formal, it makes them nervous and they get formal in return, which equals defensive, which is not what you want at this stage.
posted by biffa at 3:55 AM on January 13, 2013 [2 favorites]

Thanks for this, useful. I don't use the telephone, but will consider emailing as that may be less formal.
posted by sock of ages at 12:23 PM on January 13, 2013

I have emailed - no reply yet but I will give them another week or so and then write I guess.
posted by sock of ages at 1:56 PM on January 19, 2013

Just to let anyone who's interested know how this turned out. Took some time to unravel but in the end it transpired they don't keep records after ten years so don't have any record of my credits, or indeed that I was ever a student there.
posted by sock of ages at 7:56 AM on March 30, 2013

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