‘Deferred entry’ refers to when a student delays their university place by a year, in order to take a gap year or pause their studies. You can apply for deferred entry when you first send off your UCAS form, or request it after you have received your offers. Here are the pros and cons of deferred entry.
Pros: why you might want to apply for deferred entry
1. Peace of mind
If a student is planning to take a gap year, but knows exactly which university course they want to study afterwards, they should apply for deferred entry to try to ensure they have a place guaranteed once they get back. This can alleviate a lot of stress during the gap year, since the university application process won’t have to be considered again.
2. Time to decide
A student might want to apply for deferred entry if they do not yet feel ready to go to university. Deferring a university place by a year can offer precious time to decide whether a course is really for you.
After leaving school, working and travelling, you might decide that you want to change course or not go to university at all. If this is the case, it is possible to contact the university before attending to reject the place you’ve been offered.
If a student defers their university place because they are unsure of whether it’s really for them, encourage them to spend their gap year gaining work experience and conducting research into their course so that their decision will become clearer, rather than waiting for the same dilemma to arise the following year.
3. School support
Applying for deferred entry allows students to apply to university with the support of their school/college. While a student is at school, teachers can write their reference and assist with their personal statement. If a student waits to apply during their gap year, teachers may either be unwilling or unavailable to help with their application.
Cons: why you might want to give it a miss?
1. No game plan
It is unwise for students to take a gap year if they have no clear plan for how they will spend this time. Unless a student has a specific reason to take a year out, such as plans for work or travel, they should avoid delaying the next step in their education simply for the sake of it. It can be difficult to spend so much time without a clear goal, especially if friends move away to university whilst you’re still at home.
2. Unpopular with universities
Most universities welcome deferred entry but if a student has no reason to take a gap year it may seem suspicious on their application. In their Personal Statement students should justify their reasons for deferring entry, including explaining how it will benefit their future studies. If requesting deferred entry after receiving an offer, students should be prepared to give persuasive reasons for this change.
Certain subjects or universities are not kindly disposed to gap years. This is because it can be hard to maintain a sufficient level of knowledge if you are not in full-time education. For example, courses such as Medicine, Mathematics or Natural Sciences often require a concrete reason for deferring entry, such as a year of relevant work experience.
For subjects where deferred entry is not often accepted, it is wise to contact your top 5 universities and ask them if they accept deferred entry before applying. It is also important to convey why you feel deferred entry is necessary for you.
Here are some quotes from past pupils on applying for deferred entry
- “I’m so glad I applied for deferred entry because it meant I could totally enjoy travelling on my gap year and knew for sure what I was doing in the future.” (Sophia, 20)
- “If I hadn’t applied for deferred entry I almost definitely would have ended up doing the wrong course. After work experience on my gap year, I decided to change from Law to History which I am enjoying so much and the university was fine with the switch which was lucky!” (Jonny, 21)
- “If I’m honest I didn’t do much with my gap year and I think it would have been better for me to just continue with education” (Ellie, 20)