The government has put together a package of support for students who had planned to study this year but are deferring their place. The support runs alongside a £10 million package for which universities can bid to support their capital plans to increase intakes in the coming academic year.

The package is primarily targeted at those who had not planned to defer their university place. Some of the options, such as the skills toolbox, will be open to those who had already planned to defer their place. Where there is space on any of the other initiatives all students deferring will be eligible.

Students will be able to apply directly to skills provider, scheme or workplace offering these opportunities. The Universities and Colleges Admissions Service (UCAS) will be directly communicating to students who have had to defer their place this year to advise them of the range of opportunities available to them and how to access them. 

The policy aims to provide opportunities to gain new skills, undertake work placements in the public, private and voluntary sectors, undertake additional learning and support their career development.

Within the public sector, the offerings include:

  • Healthcare support workers and the Department for Health and Social Care will be encouraging students who need to defer their studies to consider applying for roles. This opportunity will also be opened up to non-medical students, so a wide range of students could benefit.
  • Individuals with prior experience of working in schools may be eligible to apply for paid tutoring roles with some National Tutoring Programme Partners
  • The National Careers Service has introduced a range of new initiatives designed to offer accessible careers guidance and activities for students and anyone else whose career path has been impacted by Coronavirus.
  • The Department for Education (DfE) is promoting The Skills Toolkit which will enable deferring students to access free courses to build practical skills which will help them develop a well-rounded CV and prepare for university and their future careers. 
  • The Ministry of Defence is making available up to 1,000 additional places as University Officer Cadets as part of either a University Royal Navy Unit, a University Officer Training Corps or a University Air Squadron, for those who have had to defer their university place. 
  • Network Rail will be offering work experience placements in engineering or operations management. 
  • The Ministry of Justice is exploring the potential of expanding the current offer of placements in Her Majesty’s Courts and Tribunals Service (HMCTS) and would be looking for opportunities that extend beyond three months to enable students to acquire the necessary skills and support the recovery plan.
  • The Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) is developing a dedicated seminar programme, enabling industry leaders to share their experiences and insights with students who did not originally plan to defer. Further details will be released shortly.
  • The Home Office has identified the essential role deferring students could play by volunteering as special constables.

Within the private sector, the opportunities listed are:

  • Supporting the effort against COVID-19. The Lighthouse Laboratories have been established across the UK to create capacity for Coronavirus diagnostic testing. The Lighthouse Laboratories are encouraging students who have had to defer their university place to apply for several hundred opportunities available in COVID-19 testing centres across the country. 
  • Bombardier Transportation is supporting students that have had their university place deferred, by offering a number of work placements at their train manufacturing facility in Derby and at their train service depots across the UK.

The scheme also includes opportunities within the voluntary sector:

  • Volunteering Matters is able to broker volunteering opportunities.
  • The Prince’s Trust is encouraging students who have to defer to apply for a 12-week placement on the Team programme.
  • The National Citizen Service (NCS) will connect these students to the 130 NCS delivery partners across England looking for paid or volunteer staff between September and December. 

External links

Package of support for students who have to defer their studies

Universities and Colleges Admissions Service