Deferring your university place can be a big decision and you’ll hear mixed feedback from pretty much everyone you ask! We’ve pulled together some pros and cons for you to help make your decision a little easier.
When you apply to university, you can choose to delay your application by a year to take a gap year or to take a break from your studies - this is called deferred entry. You can apply for deferred entry when you first send off your UCAS form, or request it after you have received your offers. If you want to take a year out before going to university, you don’t actually have to defer - there is no age limit on applying to university or using UCAS so you can just wait to apply until you’re ready, but bear in mind that you wont have support from your school. Students often choose to defer if they know they only want to take one year out, and if they want support from their school in making their application.
The pros of deferred entry
It gives you peace of mind
If you're planning to take a gap year to travel or work, and know exactly which university course you want to study when you’re done, deferred entry might be right for you.
If you apply for deferred entry and are successful, you'll have a guaranteed place at university to start the following academic year. This can take away the stress of trying to apply to university for the first time during your gap year, so you can get on with whatever you’re doing knowing your place at university is waiting for you on your return.
You get more time to decide
If you don't feel ready to go to university, deferring by a year can give you time to decide whether a course is really for you. You can also use this time to build up your confidence, develop your skills, and gain some more experience.
After a year of working or travelling, you might feel more ready to go to university. Equally, you might decide that you want to change course or not go to university at all, and that’s ok too.
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 researching the course. This will help you make an informed decision, and take the pressure off of starting a course you aren’t sure about.
You benefit from your school’s support
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 or later, teachers may not be able to help with your application.
The cons of deferred entry
It can be hard without a plan
You should really have a plan for your gap year so you spend it wisely. If you don't really know what you would do with all that time, make sure you’re 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 your friends move away to university or start apprenticeships whilst you’re stuck at home.
Ask your form tutor or careers adviser for some ideas for your gap year if you’d like to take one but aren’t sure what to do with it.
It’s not an ideal option for all courses
While many universities welcome deferred entry for students who show they have a good reason for wanting to take a gap year, some courses - like medicine, mathematics, or natural sciences - require a concrete reason for deferring entry, like completing a work placement. This is because it can be hard to maintain a sufficient level of knowledge or awareness of current events when you're not in full-time education.
Start off by contacting your chosen universities and checking that they accept deferred entry. Once you know that they do, make sure your Personal Statement covers:
- Why you want to apply for deferred entry
- How your time out will benefit your future studies
- How your experiences in your gap year will help you develop your skills or make you a better student
- Why you feel deferred entry is the best option for you
If you choose to request deferred entry after receiving an offer, you need to be able to put forward a compelling case. Ask your teachers or careers adviser for support.