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On some occasions, you might want to take a break from uni altogether, but fully intend to go back to it at a later date. If you don’t want to drop out entirely but want to “put off” uni for a bit, deferring might be for you. Students defer for many different reasons. For example, they might want to work full-time for a semester or two, or go travelling, or they get sick, or they have other major priorities in life at that time.

Each student’s university journey is different and unique, and there’s no “right way” of “doing university”. You might just need to play it by ear, and pursue whatever feels best for you at any given time.


What is deferring, exactly?

Essentially, deferring is putting your degree on hold for a little while. This could be for one semester, for an entire year, or longer – you might want to check with your individual university about the restrictions they have in place. Deferring is not the same as dropping out. That is, you’re not exiting from your degree. You’re basically just taking some time off (so planning your degree might be important).

As we’ve mentioned above, there are countless reasons students might defer. Countless.


Wait, but – doesn’t that mean I’m extending my degree?

It sure does! Or at least, it extends the date you’re likely to graduate. In theory, you can make up this time by “overloading” (studying more units than is standard in a semester), but that aside, deferring will probably add one or more semesters onto your program.

For clarity, that doesn’t mean you’re studying more; it just means you’re studying at a later period.

Whether finishing your degree “on time” is important is really up to you. I mean, you could finish your degree as soon as possible, and maybe that’s something very important to you. It would mean you could graduate by 21, go and buy your first house, and have kids by the age of 23. BUT. Perhaps you want to take a more leisurely path, travelling the world, doing some internships, and simply finishing whenever you happen to finish.


So, what are the advantages?

With the above in mind, deferring can come with flexibility. This is especially good if you don’t want uni to be the sole priority of your life, meaning you can focus on other things, like employment, or travelling, or whatever else the case may be. Taking time off in this way can help you refresh and recuperate, getting you back on track for when you do return. For many students, deferring is the first time they’ve not been in formal education since before the start of primary school – a well-deserved rest, some would say.

Taking a step back, though, also gives you a chance to reassess where you’re at – both academically and otherwise. You might have deferred on the back of one or more semesters of very limited motivation, where you felt as though you were only just getting by. In your time away from uni, you might decide you’re better suited studying something else – or perhaps not even going to uni at all. It’s true: some people who defer, simply never return.


Okay – and the disadvantages?

And I guess you could construe that last point as a negative of deferring, too; time off can certainly interrupt academic “flow”. That is, once you stop, you might find it tricky to go back to studying. This may particularly be the case if your friends from uni who you once had classes with, have all since graduated. You will likely need to re-adjust.

Of course, these disadvantages will probably be reduced if you take just one semester off, but they shouldn’t be ignored. And there’s the added negative of potentially having to re-structure your course. For example, some units are only available in a particular semester, meaning you may have to be flexible with what you study, and when, in order to qualify for your degree.


Deferring is a genuine option, but we very much recommend speaking to your university before starting the process!