At Durham, if you don’t choose a college, you usually get defaulted into Ustinov if you are a postgrad. (However, a handful of new MA students were spread out to other colleges this year.) I didn’t have any idea about which college to choose, so that happened to me. When I came to Durham, someone recommended that I switch colleges to St. John’s because of my situation (see here on my Why St. John’s, which also has an intro to the college system) so I wanted to change colleges. I initiated the change in March and was allowed; however, another student tried to change in September and was denied. So if you want to change, you’ve got to do it well before the school year starts.
Here is how the process worked for me:
Contacted the graduate admissions office and let them know you want to change. I was told that I need to be accepted by the new college and that the old college has to ‘release’ you. She recommended that I get the new college to accept me before getting released.
Contacted the new college admissions secretary to let them know my interest, and they requested an academic CV.
Got the ok from John’s, and they said that I would have to request that my admissions file sent to John’s.
I then notified Ustinov that I wanted to be released, and they confirmed that it was possible as long as it was ‘before studies commence.’ [I know someone who asked to be switched in early September. It was denied by the ‘new’ college because it wasn’t considered (politically) appropriate at that point in time, apparently since money as already budgeted by the old college.]
The process was relatively painless, but at a couple of points I had to send a couple emails asking for confirmation that the appropriate files had been sent since they didn’t always follow up with me.