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How to Apply to University After a Gap Year 2023

How to Apply to University After a Gap Year 2023

by Caroline Hardaker

Whether you want some breathing room after your A Levels or a chance to see the world,  there are many reasons to take a year out before studying a degree. Find out what you need to do when you're ready to apply below.

Taking a different route to most students can leave you feeling a little out at sea with your university application. There is so much information out there about the 'typical' application process, but what about if you want to take a gap year after school? Or what if you've already taken a gap year already and you've now decided to go to university, but you don't have the guidance of teachers? 

The good news is you can enjoy a gap year without hurting your university prospects.

Below, we have collated instructions for anyone considering or returning from a gap year. In this blog post you will find:

As well as answers to:

The different options available to gap year students at a glance

If you're thinking of taking, or have taken, a gap year, you have roughly four options.

  • If you're still doing your A Levels and don't have an offer yet, you can apply with everyone else but you will need to select your deferred entry start date when adding a choice on your UCAS application
  • If you have completed your A Levels and received an offer, you can request deferment from the university, which means you will be considered for an offer for the following year 
  • If you have completed your A Levels but don't have an offer, you can apply in the following application cycle
  • If you have completed your A Levels and finished your gap year but missed the following application deadline, you can apply through Clearing


I'm still studying my A Levels, don't have an offer yet, and now I want to take a gap year. What should I do? 

If you're still completing your A Levels and you don't have a university offer, but would like to take a gap year, it's recommended that you finish the usual application process with your peers

However, unlike your peers, you will need to defer your start date by a year when you add your university choices to your UCAS application. Remember to acknowledge your deferral in your personal statement by explaining your plans for your gap year, and why this time will be valuable to you.

Your application will go through the same process as everyone else's, and you will even be able to track the progress of your application at the same time as your peers!

The reason why this is recommended is that it gives you the luxury of enjoying your gap year without having to worry about getting a place at university once it's over. This is particularly handy for those planning on spending their gap year abroad, because completing a university application in a different country can be difficult (though not impossible!)


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I have completed my A Levels and have an offer from my chosen university, but I want to take a gap year. What should I do? 

So you have your results and even an offer from your chosen university, but you've realised going to university this year isn't for you. Whatever your reasons for having a change of heart, don't panic. Once you have received your offer, simply get in touch with your chosen university directly. 

Once you're through to your chosen university, it's normal to be asked why you're deferring at this stage in the application process, so be sure to prepare your answer before you speak to the university.

Your request will be carefully considered, though there is no guarantee that you will be accepted for the following year. In which case, it's not the end of the world. You will need to simply reapply when you're ready to do so.


I have completed my A Levels but don't have an offer. What do I do? 

First of all, don't worry. Once you have finished your gap year, you can simply apply to university via self submission.

Countless students submit their own applications without the support or guidance of college or teachers every year. However, you will have to pay a small fee. This process is very nearly identical to the steps you would have taken at school or college, and UCAS offers plenty of information and downloadable guides on how to submit your own university application.


I have completed my A Levels and finished my gap year, but I've missed the application deadline, what should I do?

So, your gap year is coming to an end and you're now feeling ready to apply to university, only to realise you've missed the UCAS deadline!

The application deadline for 2023 entry is 25 January 2023. If you've missed this deadline, or you'd like more information, read our guide on when to apply to university. 

If you have missed the UCAS application deadlines, then Clearing may be for you. 

If you already have your results, you might even be able to apply early. However, Clearing usually kicks off on A Level Results Day in August. For more information on the Clearing process, why not read our Clearing blogs? From how long do Clearing choices take to what courses are most commonly in Clearing, you will find answers to all of your burning questions on our blog. 

Do universities accept gap years?

Yes, universities do accept prospective students who have undertaken a gap year.

The majority of universities welcome those who have deferred entry. During your time off, you will have matured, have had time to think about what you really want to do, and will bring additional experience to your university of choice.

However, do remember that a lot of how your university interprets your time off will be based on how you frame it in your application. So, really showcase how you used your time off productively and what your gap year did for you in terms of personal development in your personal statement. 

We hope you have found this blog post useful. For more support with your application, why not download our guide to writing a personal statement below? 

download your guide to writing a personal statement