‘Too good to turn down’: Meet the freshers getting up to £10k to defer their uni places

‘It was a no-brainer really’

With A-Level results being higher than ever this year and record numbers of students achieving the top grades, competition for university places has become tougher and tougher.

This means some universities have been left with the most popular courses such as law and medicine being oversubscribed leaving them unable to offer places to students who met or exceeded the grade requirements.

Universities such as Leeds and Bristol have been offering up to £10k and free accommodation to students defer their place for a year.

The Tab spoke to these students who are being offered up to £10,000 to defer their place for the year:

Millie, law at University of Leeds

Millie, who applied to the University of Leeds to study law, was offered free accommodation for her first year of uni and £10,000, half of which she would receive this September and half next September.

Millie decided to take the offer to defer and will be attending The University of Leeds next September. She said: “I think the deferral package and its benefits was just too good turn down.”

She continued, suggesting she is sad not to be attending university this year but will use her year out to achieve other things such as her driving license: “Ideally I did want to go to uni this year but I think a year out will give me the opportunity to do things like pass my driving test and get work experience, all these things which lockdown delayed for me.

“I feel like we essentially lost a productive year of our lives in lockdown so I’ll be able to catch up on what I’ve missed.”

Anisha, medicine at University of Birmingham

Anisha originally applied for medicine at Birmingham in 2019 with deferred entry as she wanted to travel and had jaw surgery booked for January 2021. But due to the pandemic, her plans were canceled and she didn’t have her gap year as originally planned.

“I worked for nine months as a healthcare assistant through the pandemic, working with elderly people in a nursing home. Some of whom we lost to coronavirus which was hard.”

Anisha managed to travel around Spain and Portugal this summer but after meeting new people and having new experiences she decided she wanted more so toyed with the idea of deferring a second time: “So whilst lying in the hammock in a Portuguese forest I emailed admissions to see if deferring a second time was even possible.”

“Then results day came around, and I’m in a group chat with other medics going to start Birmingham this September. One of them sent a screenshot of their email about the opportunity to defer their place for a £10K bursary. It just felt like it was meant to be and a sign that I should take a second gap year. £10K can help so much over five years towards living costs, my parents would have struggled to pay the high uni accommodation rents so it’ll allow me to really focus on medicine and not worry about part-time jobs so much at uni.”

Although hesitant, having already deferred once and not received the offer herself, Anisha rang the university to see if she was eligible. “I left it in the hands of the bursary gods and as it turned out I was eligible. So I made my decision that day and have deferred again.” Anisha was offered a £10,000 bursary and will start medicine at Birmingham next September.

“Hopefully this year I can work some more to save up some extra traveling money, I have some left from working through the pandemic last year. Then the bursary can be saved for helping with uni living costs. I need to start planning my year, I’m thinking of some volunteer placements abroad within the medical field so I can get even more experience and help others. I want to broaden my mind, ready to be a doctor.”

Cammei, business management at University of Leeds

Cammei, who also applied to The University of Leeds was offered free accommodation, £10,000 and online learning support to defer her place on the business management course.

She decided to accept the offer as she said the deferral meant a lot more financial support towards moving to Leeds, both for accommodation and living costs.

She said: “Having that extra money would make the burden much lighter since I have other siblings in university and it means that I could potentially not work as many hours as I intended to when finding a part time job in Leeds. I could instead focus more time on studying. Plus I kind of wanted to defer before the offer came up because there was a lot I wanted to get done this year but the timing didn’t work out and now it has. I think it was meant to be.”

Ben, medicine at University of Exeter

Ben was offered free accommodation and a £10,000 bursary to defer his place studying medicine at Exeter. He took the offer and will spend the year gaining relevant work experience that will aid him in the practical side of his course. He said: “It was a no-brainer really. I don’t want to have to rely on my parents to get me through uni and I won’t have time for a part-time job so this was a blessing in disguise. Hopefully things will be fully back to normal with the pandemic next year too. Besides in the grand scheme of things, an extra year won’t matter when I’m spending so long at uni anyway.”

Caitlin, business management with marketing at University of Leeds

However, for some, going to uni is more important than the money. Similar to offer holders on the same course, Caitlin was also offered £10,000 and free first-year accommodation by the business management department at Leeds – but she decided not to accept this offer.

Caitlin said: “I’ve decided against it because I’m so ready to go to uni this year, and had they not offered me the money I would have gone, so the money hasn’t made much of a difference to my decision.”

She went on to say: “There are people who will really really benefit from the money, and I’m fortunate enough to have a healthy trust fund to help me through uni, so I’d rather the money go to someone who it will really make a difference to. Plus if I took a gap year I would really want to travel and that’s not too feasible right now!”

Alaina, business management at University of Leeds

Alaina was offered £10,000 plus free accommodation or compensation for up to £6,500 first-year accommodation to defer her place on the business management course at Leeds. She however has decided to decline the offer due to wanting to start university this year.

She said: “I haven’t accepted the offer as I’d been looking forward to going this year, and I really didn’t like the idea of spending another year at home, especially after several lockdowns. Also my family is lowkey toxic and have been damaging to my mental health this last year.”

Alaina continued, saying her mental health is more important than any money they could offer: “I can’t wait to have a fresh start away from home and to try new things.”

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