The application process explained

Deferring entry and Gap Years

If a learner wants to have a break from education after taking their level 3 qualifications deferring for a year is an option. Learners will usually choose one or a combination of things to do during their time out (often referred to as a Gap Year) including working to earn money for their future studies, traveling, volunteering to gain work experience in their chosen field, and re takes to gain better grades.

If you have a learner who wishes to defer their entry to higher education then they have 3 options available to them:

  1. Apply through UCAS for a deferred entry
  2. Apply normally through UCAS then defer entry
  3. Delay applying to UCAS until the following year

Applying to UCAS for a deferred entry

  • Learners complete their personal statement at the same time as everyone else at your college but when they are asked on the form what start date they would like they select the following year. 
  • This way the learner still has the support from their college and a tutor can still do a reference for them.
  • In their personal statement they will have to mention why they have decided to defer their application and what they hope to get out of their gap year.
  •  Applications for a deferred entry are dealt with in the normal way and learners are expected to meet the terms of their offer.

Applying normally through UCAS then deferring entry

  • This may be an option for a learner who doesn’t know at the application stage whether they want to defer or not. They apply as normal within the normal time frame but when they receive offers back they can ask their chosen HEI if they will consider deferring their entry to the following year.  
  • This means they do not need to write on their personal statement that they are taking a gap year as at this stage their plans will not be confirmed. However when they receive offers and then ask to defer the HEI is within their rights to say that the place is only on offer for the year they have applied to and not the following year.

Delay in applying to UCAS until the following year while they take their gap year

  • Learners can apply to UCAS once they have their level 3 results so they will be applying to UCAS during their gap year.
  • This way the learner will already have their grades and HEIs can make a firm decision based on these grades.
  • However they will have to complete the form while on their gap year, contact the college once they have left for a reference and potentially attend interviews and open days – this is an extra consideration if the learner is planning to spend their gap year traveling abroad.

Personal statement writing - tops tips for a gap year

It’s really important to make sure learners think how they will benefit from taking a gap year and how they can explain this on their personal statement if they are applying for a deferred entry from the start.

Most HEIs look favourably on applicants who decide to defer their entry as long as they can justify why they have taken this decision. They need to demonstrate that they have a clear plan for their gap year and that they can explain how this year out will help develop them as a personal and as a result enhance their ability to succeed when they go onto HE.

Ultimately it needs to be the decision of the learner as to whether or not they take a gap year but for many this may be a good alternative to going straight onto HE and definitely a choice that should be fully researched.