Policy on Changes to Student Names1

Under the law in England, Wales and Northern Ireland, if you want to be known by a different name you can change your name at any time, provided you do not intend to deceive or defraud another person. There is no legal procedure to follow in order to change a name. You simply start using the new name. You can change your forename or surname, add names or rearrange your existing names.  

Like other public organisations and financial institutions in the UK, however, universities have a duty to prevent fraud and so can exercise the right to make certain requirements mandatory.

In order to reduce the risk of fraudulent applications and enrolments the University of York requires every applicant, whether applying through a clearing house or directly to the University, online or on paper, to apply using the name shown on their passport, birth certificate or marriage certificate. If the style of separate forename/given name(s) and surname/family name is not used in your culture, then you should insert your complete name on the surname line of any form.

This is the name that will be logged into the University's student records database and must be used throughout your academic career at the University of York, unless a change of name is formally requested. The recorded name will be used on any acceptance letter and visa documentation that the University issues before the completion of the enrolment process. Any discrepancy between your official documents and our correspondence to you is likely to cause delays in subsequent processes, therefore any misspelling that may have occurred, however minor, must be notified to us immediately so it can be corrected before any further correspondence is issued. You can check what is held in your record by looking at your e:Vision account.

Your formally recorded name will be that which appears on your official University record and will appear on your academic transcript and your final award parchment if you are successful. If you need to have your name changed, the University will change all of your records to reflect that new name, so your new name will replace your old name on all the University's records and will be used from that time on. Only in exceptional circumstances will a second change of name be permitted during a period of study and the award certificate presented on successful completion of the programme will bear that name which cannot thereafter be changed.

You should also note that the University accepts no responsibility for any consequences arising from the change of name which occur outside the University; if you change your name within the University you should also notify all other relevant external bodies of the change.

A request to change your name as recorded on the University’s student records system during your academic career must be submitted in writing and accompanied by written evidence of the relevant change (see below), either in original form or as a certified true copy of the original. The official documentation issued and validated by the University during your study and after you have left shows the name under which you enrolled, studied and graduated so it is important to make sure that any corrections or changes to your name as it is held in the University's official student record are altered before an award is made.

To action a change of name you need to call into the Student Hub in Market Square, or write, email or fax to:

Student Services
University of York
Heslington
York
YO10 5DD
UK

Email: student-records@york.ac.uk

Fax: +44 (0)1904 324039

Examples of appropriate forms of evidence to support a change of name are listed below:

A marriage certificate or divorce decree absolute

If you are wishing to revert from your married name to your previous name we will need to see the above documents, together with your birth certificate and a statement from you confirming the reversion to your previous name for all purposes.

A certified copy of a birth entry

A certified copy of a birth entry will be evidence of a change of name if the new name has been recorded in the birth entry.

Public announcement

You may decide to record your name change by placing an advertisement in a local or national newspaper. This should state that you have stopped using your previous name and have assumed a new one. A copy of the advertisement can then be used as evidence that you have changed your name.

Statutory declaration

A statutory declaration is a statement recording your intention to abandon your old name and adopt a new one. For most purposes, a statutory declaration is generally accepted as evidence of your change of name. Preparing a statutory declaration can be complicated. If you want to prove your change of name by making a statutory declaration you should consult an experienced adviser, for example, one of the University’s Student Welfare Advisers, or an adviser at a Citizens Advice Bureau.

Change of name deed (previously known as a ‘deed poll’)

A change of name deed is a formal statement to prove that your name has been changed.

If you are a child or young person under 18 you can only have your change of name recorded by a change of name deed by a person who has parental responsibility for you, although if you are over 16, this can only be done with your consent.

Changing your name by change of name deed can be complicated. If you want to use this as evidence of change of name you should consult an experienced adviser such as one of the University’s Student Welfare Advisers, or an adviser at a Citizens Advice Bureau.

Police report

The University is aware that some students may choose to adopt a pseudonym for personal reasons (including personal safety) during their academic careers. If you are in this situation, the University will require a police report or solicitor’s letter as verification of the change.

Note for alumni

Once you have graduated it is not usually possible to retrospectively change the name held on your student record or produce documentation such as academic transcripts or award certificates in your new name. You cannot, for example, have your award certificate reissued in your new name if you change your name due to marriage or divorce after you have finished your studies.

Your student record can however be changed, and your documentation reissued, if your name change is due to a gender reassignment. If this applies to you, or you believe that you have other circumstances that warrant exceptional consideration, you can apply in writing with the relevant supporting documentation to the Director of Student and Academic Services, University of York, Heslington, York YO10 5DD.

Please note that all data held by the University in connection with any change of name will be treated in confidence and will never be disclosed to a third party without your permission.

Valerie Cotter
Director: Student and Academic Services

1This policy is based on that of De Montfort University, Bedford and we thank them for permission to use it.