Tuesday 12 December 2017

Everything you wanted to know about deferrals

The Leaving Certificate year is an exhausting period for many students and many of them feel like taking a break from study.

Although most applicants go straight into college, the concept of a year out, or a gap year, between school and college is attractive to some.

There may be many reasons, other than post-Leaving Certificate fatigue, why students would like a break between school and college.

These could include wanting to spend a year abroad or needing to work to save some money towards the cost of going to college.

The benefits of a year out can be enormous. The practice is common among British applicants to UCAS each year, with about 7pc of those accepting places seeking deferrals until the following year.

While equivalent figures are not readily available for CAO, many Irish universities and other third-level institutions will allow students to defer accepting a place they have been offered, and the college will hold the place for them until the following year, regardless of whether or not the points go up.

CAO applicants will find all details on page five of the CAO’s handbook of a common deferral procedure which is used by those colleges which permit deferral.

Permission is not guaranteed, and is totally at the discretion of the higher education institution in question.

All Higher Education Institutes (HEI) will consider applications for deferred entry.

Dun Laoghaire Institute of Art, Design and Technology (IADT) will only grant permission under exceptional circumstances for deferred entry to any of its courses.

University College Cork (UCC) will only consider applications for deferral under exceptional circumstances in respect of its medical (both undergraduate and graduate courses), as well as dental courses (CK701,CK702, CK791), while the University of Limerick (UL) will only consider applications for deferral under exceptional circumstances to LM101 (Medicine – Graduate Entry)

Students wishing to defer accepting a place are instructed on page five of the handbook as follows:



1 Do not accept the offer in the manner shown on the Offer Notice.

2 Write immediately to the Admissions Office of the appropriate higher education institution (HEI) setting out the reason(s) for the request. Mark ‘DEFERRED ENTRY’clearly on the envelope.

3 The appropriate part of the Offer Notice must be attached to the letter, ie that part of the notice which shows the offer you wish to be deferred.

4 The letter must arrive in the Admissions Office at least two days before the ‘Reply Date’ shown on the offer notice.

The HEI will communicate the decision to the applicant. If the deferral is not granted, you may still accept the offer for the current year.

All communications about deferrals must go to Admissions Offices and not to CAO.

In order to take up the deferred place, the applicant must reapply through the CAO in the succeeding year, paying the appropriate application fee, and placing the deferred course as the only preference on the application form.

When reapplying the following year you must fully complete an application.

In other words, you must include again any documentation, if any were needed, which you provided with the original application.

This is an extremely important point, and failure to comply with it has got deferring applicants into difficulty in previous years.

If students apply for and are given permission to defer accepting a place, they will still be offered any higher preference courses to which they are entitled in any later round this year.

They will be free to accept any higher preference offer, or to seek permission to defer accepting that offer, if they want to.

If you accept a later offer, the deferred place lapses, just as any later round acceptance cancels and supersedes an earlier acceptance.

It is not possible to accept one offer and to seek permission to defer another place on another course just in case you do not like the course you are on.

A deferral is a postponed acceptance so, generally speaking, a college will not allow students to defer a place in one college, and take up another college place in the same year.

Some colleges are not sympathetic to deferral if the applicant plans to repeat the Leaving Certificate.

There is usually no problem, however, with taking a place on a Post Leaving Certificate course (PLC) during a deferral year because a PLC course is not allocated through the CAO system, and is regarded as further education rather than as higher education.

Remember the points you gain in any year are like a currency which remains valuable into the future. A student may apply to college for years to come on the basis of the points they gained in the year of their Leaving Certificate.

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