Thinking about taking a year out? Here’s how.

We’re here to help you understand what deferring means, whether it’s right for you, and what the process is. 

What is deferred entry?

Deferring simply means delaying. A deferred entry means applying for a course and then taking a year out before starting it. This might be pre-planned, for example if you want to go on a gap year, or you might change your mind during the application. 

You can select a ‘deferred’ start date for your chosen course when you apply, but it’s important to contact the uni or college before submitting your application to make sure they are happy to accept a deferred application.

Usually you can only defer your entry by one year, and it’s up to the university or college whether they accept it for your course. 

The conditions of your offer won’t change even though the date does. For example, if your conditional offer is based on attaining ABB in 2024 to start your deferred course in 2025, you must attain those grades in 2024 to secure your deferred place. 

If you’re applying for a conservatoire course, you’ll need to speak with the conservatoire directly to request a deferred entry. It’s not an option in the standard conservatoire application process. 

Some universities and colleges may occasionally approach students directly to ask if they would like to defer their entries. Remember that you don’t have to agree, and you are fully entitled to attend this year if you have met the terms of your offer. Think carefully about how deferring may affect your immediate and future plans. If you decide to defer it will mean graduating a year later than you normally would. But it also means that you’ll be a little older, a little more experienced, and probably have a little more cash behind you. Make sure you weigh up the pros and cons, speak to your family and friends, and make the decision based on what’s right for you. 

Why defer entry?

Many people who defer their entries are planning on taking a gap year, which gives them a chance to travel, earn money, and gain valuable experience before starting university. For others, it may be that they need to work, or that they have other commitments that year. 

If you do decide to defer your entry, you need to think about how to spend your gap year productively. Can you find work experience or volunteering opportunities that will enhance your higher education experience, and lead to better employment prospects post-uni? Will you be able to cope with watching your friends at uni on social media, and will you be able to get into the right mindset after a year off? 

Make sure you’re certain about your course because you’ll be committed to it. A lot can change in a year, but you won’t be able to apply elsewhere whilst you’re holding your deferred place, and you can only be released if the course provider agrees.  

And remember that not all universities or colleges will accept deferred entries, or that they may only accept them for certain courses. Always check before you make a decision. 

How to defer your application

If you have applied for 2024 but would now like to defer, it will be up to your university or college to approve this. Some may only accept deferrals for certain courses. You should call them to check, but be ready to explain your reasons. 

If you have been offered a place for 2024 but would now like to defer, it will again be up to the university or college. As this is considered a late deferral, you may be asked to reapply. Make sure you’re confident of your choice, if you defer at this point it will become a final decision. 

If you defer your place then change your mind, you will need to contact the university or college. This process is not straightforward, and will depend on whether there are places available on the course. 

If you are applying through Clearing, you can only apply for the current year. However, if you are holding a deferred place and want to apply for a place this year through Clearing, you can use the ‘Decline my place’ button in your application, complete a new application, and follow the Clearing process. You should let the university or college know that you won’t be keeping your deferred place. 

You have right up until your start date to decide whether to defer or not, but accepting your decision is completely at the discretion of your university or college. The earlier you speak to them, the higher the chance that they will help you out, and the lower the chance you lose your place. 

If you have any questions about your deferral decision, please give us a call and we can explain everything in simple and straightforward terms over the phone. Don’t panic, there’s plenty of time left. 

If you accept a deferred entry place for 2025 you cannot then reapply in the next application cycle while holding this place. You would need to completely withdraw your application before you reapply. If you want to do this, please contact us for advice.