Can I Defer My Place at University Due to Coronavirus?

During a time when travelling from one country to the other has become particularly simple, the coronavirus pandemic has made things a bit more difficult. In the attempts of protecting the general health of the population, travel restrictions, border controls, and social distancing measures have been put forth. Although right now, it might seem like the world has pushed the pause button, it is yet uncertain on what the impact of the pandemic will be after people return to their daily lives. 

International students have found themselves amidst many uncertainties as well. Exams have been cancelled and test centres have closed, while classes are being conducted online. It is true that the virus has impacted the plans of many potential and current international students. More specifically, a percentage of 79% of international students have affirmed that their plans have, in one way or another, been altered by the virus.

What Is a Deferred Entry? 

Deferring entry means applying for a course and then taking a gap year before going to university. Typically, you may only defer entry by one year. There are universities and colleges that do not allow deferred entry in subjects such as medicine but will consider the option when it comes to other subjects or courses.

Similarly, in some instances, for example, when it comes to conservatoire courses, applicants must contact the conservatoire directly in order to request a deferred entry. Since you will not be able to request it upon applying. Whatever the case may be, if you defer your entry, you must meet the conditions that were set on the year you applied. For example, if you received an offer in 2020 and plan on starting in 2021, your exam results must meet the conditions of your offer by the year 2020, unless stated otherwise.

Before applying for deferred entry, you should make sure that you are applying for a course that you are interested in. Also, you should make sure that the course will still be available in the next year since many universities do not offer the same courses each year. Some universities do not like their students to have a gap year before starting university. 

Can I Defer My Place Due to COVID-19? 

This is quite a common question among students, international or domestic, as a result of the coronavirus pandemic. Travelling has become a lot more difficult during the past months, as border controls have been introduced and face-to-face teaching has been cancelled. It is unclear what the effects that the pandemic might have on the higher education sector in the UK are, however, if the situation lasts longer than anticipated, students might be required to proceed with online classes until things start to get better.

The possibility of deferring your entry if you’re set to begin on September 2020 exists. However, each university has its own policies and regulations as to whether or not they can allow their students to defer their entry. As previously mentioned, there are universities and colleges that do not allow entry deferment for particular subjects such as medicine and there are universities who do not offer the same programmes each year. Therefore, while the possibility of deferring entry exists, approval is not guaranteed. It would be best if you contact your chosen university or college to discuss the issue in detail, and they will let you know whether you can defer your place or not.

Why Do Students Choose to Defer Their Place at University? 

On what seem to be ‘normal’ circumstances in comparison to the current coronavirus situation, students choose to defer their entry for a variety of reasons. Some might feel like they are not ready to begin their studies yet, while others might want to travel or earn money to finance their studies. Unfortunately, students at the time of COVID-19 see the option of deferring entry as a way of starting their degree programme when the circumstances are ideal and the pandemic is over. 

There are a few things that should be kept in mind in case your university does allow you to begin your studies in the following year. Find some of them below: 

  • You should be certain about the course you’re about to defer since once you secure a place, you have a commitment towards it. Applying elsewhere while you’re still holding that place is not possible, and you will only be able to be released from the course if the course provider agrees.
  • Think about how you’re going to spend the gap year before starting your studies. At the moment, it is important to keep safe from the pandemic, so that should be a priority. However, with a lot of free time at hand, make sure your plans for the year enhance your application and relate to the subject you plan on studying. 
  • Once you defer your entry, you will not be able to return to your original year of entry, so a lot of thought must initially go into the decision. 

What Can Universities in the UK Do for Their Students? 

The higher education sector in the UK has been working, ever since the coronavirus outbreak, to make sure that learning is disrupted as little as possible. Higher education providers are still doing the best they can to accommodate their students and facilitate classes which are currently being conducted online. While summer exams, including GCSEs, A levels, have been cancelled, exam regulator Ofqual and exam boards are cooperating to provide students with qualifications so they can progress to further or higher education when the time comes. 

In the meantime, universities are working to enhance their online learning experience and transmit knowledge as best as possible through online platforms. Among others, all universities should make sure they are keeping their students updated at all times during the pandemic. This means that students should be able to contact the university and inquire information about issues related to coronavirus, FAQs sections should be updated, and university areas should be kept clean and disinfected. 

Read our article to find more information for international students in the UK during coronavirus.

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