Sorry for this second post, but I've been thinking about this and just wondering what all my options are.
If I consider changing universities because of a change in my research area, would it be frowned upon in terms of PhD commitment etc (from either institution)? Do you think I would be looking at having to just apply again from scratch (i.e. go back into 1st year)? Not sure how these sorts of situations are viewed in the field of academia!!:-(
If you are fully funded I believe it is difficult to change institutions. I know the ESRC says that you need very strong reasons to transfer an award (i'm guessing this means a change in someones circumstances which is outside of their control).
I would expect your current institution and supervisor to be less than impressed if you tell them you are considering transferring due to a change of research focus and the whole process of changing institution for this reason would be very drawn out and difficult.
I would imagine the only way this really happens is when an entire research group moves between different institutions which does happen, otherwise I have never heard of a student transferring between uni's in this manner. The research group I was in moved from one uni to the other and had a PhD student at the time who effectively had to start his PhD again
Being self funded makes things a lot easier.
If you are determined to change institutions then you might as well attempt the transfer as you have nothing to lose by trying it. Contact the institution you want to move to and discuss moving there as a 'transfer student', if they won't accept you as this they should take you as a new PhD student starting all over again (although this will mean that all of the work you have done on your PhD so far is wasted).
The only difficult thing will be telling your current supervisor that you are leaving as they will not want you to go (and the university won't want to lose your fees!).
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