If you’re unsure whether kicking off your university journey as planned in 2020/21 is the right call, that’s ok. Allow yourself time to consider the options you have in front of you, weighing up the pros and cons of either decision. For some, keeping on track to begin university this year will be the right decision. For others, choosing to defer will be the decision that’s right for them.
Here, we shed some light on what deferring would look like, to help inform your decision. We’ve also chatted to Ethan, a final-year Classical Studies student at the University of Lincoln, about why he has decided to defer his final year.
How Do You Defer A Place?
Deferring uni entry can be done in a couple of different ways. Firstly, despite any recent changes to university entry, you can still make an application as a deferred student. What this will mean is that, if you make an application in 2020, you will apply as though you are doing so for the year 2021. This will require you to meet the conditions and entry requirements for the application of that year. You will be given the option to apply as a deferred student and if accepted, will begin in 2022. Bear in mind that when applying, you will need to include your reason for deferral within your personal statement.
Your other option? Simply wait until the following year. If you are unsure of what you want to study -or where - you will be afforded more opportunity to decide. You can spend the time until applications open the following year to
do further research, get work experience and talk to friends already at uni in order to help gain clarity. Waiting will also give you the option to join Clearing, so that if you do change your mind and wish to study in the upcoming year, you can do so.
Can I Defer if I Have Already Applied For A Course?
It’s normal to change your mind - especially with the current state of affairs. If you do decide to defer, but have already sent in your application, you must reach out to whichever institution you have applied to. Simply let them know of the change, and they will often ask you to provide a reason.
Can I Defer After Getting My Results?
With GCSE, A-Level, BTEC and Scottish Highers students being at the mercy of final grades calculated by teachers, the results you end up with may come as a surprise. If upon receiving these results you wish to defer your place, reach out to the university who you have applied to. Provide your reason for doing so, and given you have received an offer, you should be able to defer your place.
Alternatively, if you have intended to defer, but decide you want to study this year instead after subsequently getting your results, you will have to apply through Clearing.
For How Many Years Can You Defer Your Place?
In most cases, you will be able to defer university for a year. However, this will depend on the institution you’re applying to, and the availability of the course that following year. If you do wish to defer your place, contact your institution directly, as they will be able to detail for how long you can defer on a particular course.
When is the Deadline For Deferring?
When applying as a deferred student, you will have the same deadlines for the year in which you are applying. For example, if you are applying in 2020 for the 2021 university year, but wish to defer entry until 2022, your deadline for applying as a deferred student will be the same as for non-deferring students.
However, many students change their mind, and choose to defer after they have already made an application. In this case, you will need to be in contact with whichever institution you have applied to, and provide a reason for deferral. Be absolutely sure you wish to defer. Once you have done so, you won’t be able to go back and change your mind a second time.
Can I Still Apply for Deferral Through Clearing?
When it comes to applying through Clearing, you won’t be able to apply for a deferred place on a course that is offered in Clearing. Courses that are available to students in Clearing are reserved for students looking to begin their study that same year, but either missed out on a place in their original course, or have changed their mind.
However, if you have applied to be a deferred student, but have now decided to study this year, you will be able to apply for a place through Clearing. Firstly, be in touch with the institution with whom you held a deferred place. Let them know you no longer wish to hold this deferred place, and complete a new application for the course you wish to study through the Clearing process.
If you’ve applied through UCAS you will also need to go on UCAS Track, and click ‘Decline My Place’. Be aware that, as you are applying through Clearing, the course with which you initially held a deferred place may have no spaces available for the current year.
Should You Defer because of Coronavirus?
Upon reading all of this, you may be tossing up whether to defer university entry. To do so is a big decision, as it will determine how the next year or so of your life will play out. But, like any decision you have had to make since the Coronavirus pandemic began, there will be pros and cons.
You may wish to defer entry for a year in order to see how the pandemic will continue to affect the upcoming year. Many universities are heavily considering having teaching be online come the start of the new university year. However, this won’t suit everybody. As Ethan, a current student deferring his final year at the University of Lincoln, explains, “Personally, online learning is not the best way for me to learn. I prefer being able to walk to campus, see my tutor face-to-face and interact with my classmates.” If that’s the case for you too, deferring entry will give you the time to wait for teaching to resume in a more personal, face-to-face manner.
If you’re also concerned that not starting on campus will affect your university experience, you can defer a year to when things will more likely be back to normal. As Ethan further shared, “I want to experience that properly for the final time.” Not being on-campus would mean that you won’t get to have your usual freshers week, be a part of any clubs or go to any social events - all of which will be more likely to go ahead the following year. It’s also worth noting that a year off could give you a chance to gain work experience or, when travel restrictions are eased, the opportunity to explore the world.
On the other hand, deferring entry may leave you a year behind all of your friends. Although university is a great chance to meet new people, going through the journey with some of your closest friends will be an unforgettable experience. If you’re considering
taking a gap year abroad, take into account the travel restrictions that may be in place. Many students choose to defer in order to spend a year abroad, however the availability to do this is now much more limited. Additionally, if you do intend to defer, check that the course you wish to apply for will accept deferred entry. Contact the university to which you intend to apply, in order to be sure that you can defer entry.
So, what should you do? This one’s up to you. Choosing to defer entry is a personal choice, and one which only you yourself can make. We encourage you to chat to friends, family, and reach out to any institutions you're interested in applying to. This way, you’ll be as informed as you can prior to making any final decisions.
University Applications 2020: COVID-19 Changes to Uni Entry
Coronavirus Student Survey: How Study Plans Are Changing