Deferred entry is when you delay your university place by a year, in order to take a gap year or pause your 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 some of the pros and cons of deferred entry to help you decide if it's the right choice for you.
The pros of deferred entry
Peace of mind
If you're planning to take a gap year, but know exactly which university course you want to study afterwards, it may be worth considering deferred entry. If you apply for deferred entry and are successful, you'll have a place guaranteed once you're back from your travels. This can take away the stress of trying to apply during your gap year and you can relax and enjoy yourself knowing your place at university is waiting for you on your return.
Time to decide
You might want to apply for deferred entry if you don't yet feel ready to go to university. Deferring by a year can give you time to decide whether a course is really for you and to build up your confidence and gain some more experience.
After a year of working or travelling, you might feel more ready to go to university. Or you might decide that you want to change course, or not go to university at all.
Tip: If you're thinking of deferring because you're not sure if a course is for you, spend your gap year gaining work experience and conducting research into the course. This will help you make an informed decision, rather than waiting for the same thing to happen again.
Applying for deferred entry allows you to apply for university with the support of your school or college. While you're at school, teachers can write your reference and help with your Personal Statement. If you wait to apply during your gap year, teachers may not be able to help with your application.
The cons of deferred entry
No game plan
If you don't have a plan for your gap year, think very carefully about whether you're thinking of deferring for the right reasons. Don't defer your place because your friends are or for the sake of it. It might seem like a nice break but it can be difficult to spend so much time without a clear goal, especially if friends move away to university whilst you’re stuck at home.
Unpopular with universities
Most universities welcome deferred entry for students who show they have a good reason for wanting to take a gap year. In your Personal Statement you should justify why you want to apply for deferred entry. This should include how it will benefit your future studies and your contribution to the university. If you're requesting deferred entry after receiving an offer, you should be prepared to put forward a compelling case.
It's more difficult to take a gap year if you're applying for certain subjects or universities. This is because it can be hard to maintain a sufficient level of knowledge when you're not in full-time education. For example, courses such as Medicine, Mathematics or Natural Sciences often require a concrete reason for deferring entry. This might be a year of relevant work experience, rather than a desire to travel round South America!
For subjects where deferred entry is not often accepted, it's a good idea to contact your top five universities and ask them if they accept deferred entry before you apply. It is also important to explain why you feel deferred entry is the best option 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)