University of Glasgow front gates. Credit: Wikimedia Commons

Deferrals more than triple in three years

By Odhran Gallagher

An investigation by The Glasgow Guardian has revealed a sharp rise in the numbers of students choosing to postpone their studies.

Following a freedom of information request, The Glasgow Guardian can reveal that the number of undergraduate students choosing to defer their studies has risen to 323 for the 2022/23 academic year. This marks an increase of over 300% on the figure for 2019/20, which stood at 99. 

The figures show that the recent significant increase in the number of deferrals occurred in the 2021/22 academic year (when numbers rose to 312, having stood at 130 for the previous academic year) after the majority covid pandemic restrictions had been removed but housing issues began to affect students to a larger degree. 

The Glasgow Guardian has spoken to a number of students who have chosen to defer their studies. One student referred to the ongoing housing crisis as affecting her decision to defer. The University of Glasgow took away its guarantee of accommodation for first years and postgraduate students in March of this year and then later revealed it was planning to house students in Stirling

Ellie Dickson deferred in 2021 because the University was unable to provide her with accommodation. She was then offered £1500 to defer her place until 2022 and she decided to take this offer since “the alternative would have been to accept an offer of accommodation in Paisley”. She also noted that: “the prospect of the first year of university being online solidified my choice to defer as I had just completed most of S5 and S6 online which had a negative impact on my mental health.”

Another student said that covid restrictions had prompted their decision to defer. Current first-year student Betty Colburn told us that she applied to study at Glasgow University two years ago for deferred entry hoping that by the time her course commenced all remaining covid restrictions would have been lifted.

A University of Glasgow spokesperson said: “This data represents the number of deferral requests from undergraduate applicants received in the academic years 2019/2020 to 2022/2023 for their offer to move to the following academic year.  

“In some cases, these applicants have applied for a deferred place at the point of application, as this is a feature of the UCAS application process, and in some cases these requests have been made throughout the admissions process.  Applicants defer for a number of reasons, and their deferral requests are reviewed on an individual basis. 

“Admissions are committed to supporting our applicants to commence study at the University of Glasgow at a point in time that suits their needs and circumstances through our policies and processes.”


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