Coronavirus: information and updates

Deferring or postponing university during coronavirus

Universities and colleges are adapting many things to keep students and staff safe during coronavirus. This may include:

  • a different start date for the academic year
  • virtual open days
  • online lectures, tutoring and supervision
  • smaller groups for lessons in person
  • changes to modules and topics
  • more homework
  • different accommodation options
  • changes on campus to follow social distancing and safety guidelines

Course start dates

Most universities and colleges have published course start dates on their websites. Do not rely on prospectuses and guides if they were produced before coronavirus.

Contact the admissions team or office if you cannot find the date on their website.

Choosing to defer studies

Many students are worried about how coronavirus will affect their university or college experience and education. You could have the option to defer.

When you defer, you apply for a course and take a year out before going to university. This may not be possible for some courses like medicine.

If you’ve already started your course, you could have the option to take a study break. This is sometimes called suspending studies. You should be able to speak with your personal tutor about this.

Finding out about changes before you decide

Before confirming your place or choosing to defer or take a break, you could check things like:

  • what safety measures there are for people who have been shielding
  • changes you can expect on your course, like how they’ll organise lectures and seminars, how you’ll submit your work and any changes to deadlines
  • what will happen with practical learning, work experience and placements
  • if you will need to redo a year if you take a break
  • what reasonable adjustments they can make to support you
  • help with applying for Disabled Students’ Allowances (DSAs). DSAs give you support, equipment and adjustments to study, like help with note-taking
  • how remote learning can be made accessible
  • changes to campus life and access to facilities like the library and student union
  • accommodation options 
  • if any finances, such as a bursary, will be affected

Changes and adjustments will depend on how your university or college is operating. Look for a coronavirus section on their website for information.

Contact the disability support team

Contact the disability support team to discuss your concerns. They should be able to advise you on your options and help you work out if you’ll have the right support for your needs. This team may have a different name at your university.

How to defer your application (UCAS)

If you’re returning to university

If you're a returning student, it's likely that your university or college is operating differently from last year.

Speak with the disability advice team to find out how they can continue to support you and meet your needs. Ask if there's an option for a study break or to defer if you're not happy with the changes to your studies or student experience.

Support for deferring students

The government has created a support package for students being asked to defer because there’s not enough spaces on their course. Some of these resources will also be available to all students who are deferring. The package includes things like:

Support package for students who have to defer their studies (GOV.UK)

Last reviewed by Scope on: 08/01/2021

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