Nearly 30,000 students have deferred their places at UK universities this year

That’s enough to fill Newcastle University alone

28,880 students have deferred their places at university this year – enough students students to fill Newcastle University alone.

This marks a 12 per cent increase in deferrals when compared to the previous year, with school-leavers being the most likely to defer.

There has been a 21 per cent increase in the number of 18-year-olds opting for deferrals, according to Ucas.

As A-Levels were cancelled for the second year in a row, teachers assessed their students’ grades sparking grade inflation and meaning there were more eligible students than university places available.

To combat this, several universities like Exeter, Leeds and Bristol offered financial incentives to defer their places.

Leeds student Millie leaped at the offer of £10,000 and a full year of paid accommodation. “I think the deferral package and its benefits was just too good turn down,” she told The Tab. “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.”

Director of the Higher Education Policy Institute Nick Hillman believes that incoming students may have seen how this year’s cohort have struggled with a lack of face-to-face teaching, and tactically opted to wait a year until they hope in-person teaching will fully resume.

He also suggested that unis may be putting pressure on students to take a year out. “Universities are not letting people in who have narrowly missed grades — for some it may be that they are retaking or reassessing, if they missed out on their first choice,” Hillman told The Times.

Related articles recommended by this writer:

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

• Edinburgh Uni rejects high achievers after grade inflation leaves a shortage of places

• Unis not doing in-person teaching shouldn’t charge full fees, says Gavin Williamson