How to Defer University: The Complete Guide

How to Defer University: The Complete Guide

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Going to university has benefits for many people. One of its great features is that you do not have to go immediately after finishing your A-Levels. This is known as deferring. In case you are not aware of how to defer from university, this article will explain everything you need to know about deferring university and if it is the right option for you if you feel that university is not what you may not be interested in.

This article will also the questions on your mind regarding deferral, including deferring a university place after accepting, and if you can defer a year at university after beginning it?

What Does It Mean to Defer University?

To defer from university is to delay the process. Most people do this by applying for a course and then deciding to have a gap year. Gap years allow people to think more about their application and if there is something else they would like to do before they continue their academic journey.

Ensure that you contact the university or college that you are applying for. Notify them that you are planning on deferring for a year, so that they have time to accept the application beforehand. You can only defer your university entry by one year. Any longer and the university can pull you from the course.

Certain grades need to be obtained up to a year before your degree starts. If you begin your university course in 2024, you need your grades by 2023 to be accepted. Other instances, like conservatoire courses, need to be discussed with the conservatoire directly if you want to defer your entry. You can usually find out how to apply for university using the UCAS website.

defer university gown light bulk idea

Why Is Deferring from University a Good Option?

Deferring university for a year allows people to take up a part- or full-time job, travel, or gain valuable experience before they begin studying at university. Others may have family or other commitments and need the time to focus on them before they start the course.

Before you defer, you need to plan how you will spend your gap year doing productive things. Will a particular job or volunteering offer the right experience that will benefit you? Others may feel FOMO (Fear of Missing Out) after seeing their friends on their social media having a good time at university. You may not be in the right state by the time your turn comes.

Be sure the course is right for you, and even when a year has passed, you may decide otherwise. Prioritise all these options and more, to determine whether deferring university is the right option for you.

How to Defer University for a Year

There are different ways in which you can defer university, depending on your situation. If your situation falls under one of the following scenarios, then you can follow the process for what to do.

No matter why you decide to defer university, you need to contact the appropriate authorities and always give reasons why you wish to defer. This is the same process to anyone who begins a university application, so before you are allowed to defer you need to ensure you meet your required grades first. There is no guarantee that your deferral will be accepted; certain courses such as medicine don’t accept deferrals.

Applying for university next year:

Are you looking to start studying next year? You should begin your application process and select what year you wish to start.

Remember: if you want to start next year, you will need to start your gap year THIS year.

Changing your mind:

After you have begun your deferral, if you have changed your mind regarding further study, you need to contact your university or college. Depending on the availability of the course, and the location, this process can vary.

Application Clearance:

You will only be able to apply for the current year. You will not be able to apply for university two or more years later. After obtaining a deferral, you can decline your place during your application and begin a new one, known as the Clearing process. Contact your course establishment to make them aware of this. Keep in touch with the appropriate authorities at the establishment. This will increase the likelihood that you will retain your application after the clearing process.

Accepting Deferral for Next Year:

If you already have an accepted application for deferral, you cannot apply for an additional application. Instead, you should withdraw your current one and then create a new one. You could defer a year of university after finishing your degree, and you want to learn what you want to do next after obtaining your degree.

defer university graduates

What To Do If You’re Deferring University

There are numerous reasons that you may want to defer university. Having a whole year ahead of you is something that you have never expected before, since you may have been ushered straight from GCSEs in school to A-Levels at college.

Now you are 18 or over, you have a massive opportunity to learn a new skill or experience for a whole year. Here are some ways you can make the most of your spare time when deferring university:

Traveling the world

This is one of the main options most students will choose to do during their deferral. It allows for the opportunity to see more of the world and broaden the mind. Although it is, in one way, a holiday, many people choose traveling because it allows them to be more independent. Some choose to spend time living in a certain country to learn more about culture, and even to work there.

Or maybe you have become intrigued about red brick universities, and you want to spend time in each of their cities learning more about their history. Anything you learn during your travels may benefit significantly when you begin your studies.

Learning a new language

Learning a new language is a very valuable skill to learn, especially by the time you begin university, since you are more likely to come across students from a wide range of cultures. It even opens more doors in the job markets for those who know numerous languages.

The most popular choices include Chinese, French, German, and Arabic. Maybe one of these linguistics stands out to you, and you never had the chance before to learn them. Well, during your deferral year, you can!


There are many advantages and disadvantages to the kind of work that you may partake in during your deferral. Volunteering stands out more to employers. They are more likely to employ those who have already had experience volunteering in the career that they wish to pursue.

Volunteering will give you extra motivation if you are struggling with what to do during your deferral, then volunteering is an effective use of your time and will be both practical and productive for you.

Getting in shape

Looking after yourself physically and mentally is very important and can transform how you will feel about yourself. Maintaining your physicality will help you prepare for university in advance, especially if you will struggle to balance the time you spend studying with going to the gym or have a well-balanced diet.

In addition, those who are looking to live on campus can spend their gap year learning everything they need to know about cooking, and it will save you more money than having to spend an excessive amount at campus shops or fast-food takeouts.

Spending time with loved ones

If you are going to be living on campus, you may not see your family as often. Therefore, you can use the opportunity during your deferral at university to spend more time with your family and friends, especially if you feel that you have become distanced from them. You should always make time for the people who mean the most to you, and you will feel all the better for it by making memories with them during your gap year that will last a lifetime.

Studying online

Doing A-Levels is tiring, and perhaps the idea of studying online is very off-putting for you, even if you do more at university. You do not have to spend a lot of time studying online. Perhaps you found a part-time course online that you found interesting. These can help you learn an extra skill. Even if the online seminars once a week, can expand your knowledge, and whatever you learn online will help you beyond your experience at university.

Check out our wide variety of home learning courses.

Is Deferring University Right for You?

Now that you have reached the end of this article, you can need to decide whether deferring to university is the right option for you. Hopefully, this article has painted you a clearer picture regarding university and deferring it in general. Whichever option you decide to do, you will undoubtedly learn something from the experience.


Can I Defer Uni for a Year?

You can; this is known as a gap year. This allows students to apply for university a year in advance to pursue temporary projects or other career prospects before beginning their degree.

Could You Defer a Year at University After Beginning It?

This depends on the university and the reasons you wish to defer. Contacting the student services at the establishment can offer help and information regarding this.

Can You Defer a University Place After Accepting?

You can only defer your placement by one year, and the university or college will decide if your deferral following the accepted application is allowed. The conditions of the offer won’t change.


UCAS. (n.d.). UCAS. Available at: (Accessed: 26 May 2023).

Nick Cooper
Nick is NCC's resident blog author and covers a range of subjects, including teaching and health & social care. NCC is an international learning provider with over 20 years’ experience offering learning solutions. To date, NCC has engaged with over 20,000 employers, and delivered quality training to over half a million learners.
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