Students taking a gap year

Whatever your reasons for taking a break from study, this information will assist you to make an informed decision about delaying your tertiary study. 

Planning ahead

If you are considering taking time off after Year 13 before enrolling at university, whether you are planning to travel overseas, or perhaps you want to work for a while, it helps to plan ahead so that you are ready to enter university when you want to.

Check you meet the entry requirements

If you are planning to take a break after you have completed Year 13, you should check that you are going to meet the requirements to enrol at UC before taking a gap year.

If you do not have University Entrance, you have the following options open to you:

Background requirements

Some courses in Engineering Intermediate and Science have specific background requirements.  It is still possible for you to study these courses if you do not meet these requirements, however you will need to pass introductory courses first, which may mean it will take you longer to complete your studies.

If you are planning to undertake one of these programmes when you return to study, you are best to seek advice from the Liaison Office before finalising plans for your time away.

Preparatory courses

If you need to refresh your study skills or revise the core science subjects, you should consider one of the pre-degree Headstart programmes. 

Headstart: Subject-related courses are catch-up courses designed for students who need a background in a particular Science subject before starting at university. They cover essential pre-university material. This is particularly useful if you intend to study Engineering, Forestry, or any of the core Science subjects. 

Headstart: Academic Skills course is useful no matter what your area of study. It covers such key skills as writing effective essays or lab reports, how to take good lecture notes and how to prepare for university-level tests and exam.

Your choice of study


UC has two semesters each year – semester one runs from February to June and semester two runs from July to November. It is possible to begin university studies in semester two. However, some degrees and subjects need to be started in semester one. 

If you are interested in studying any of the following subjects you should carefully consider the timing of your return to university study:

It is not a good idea to miss the beginning of any UC course, even by a few days. Starting late could hinder your chance of a successful outcome to your study and may incur additional fees.

While some degree-level courses are offered during the summer break, due to their intensive nature, summer degree-level courses are not recommended if you are new to university study.

Application dates

Certain UC degrees require an Application for Programme Entry in addition to an Application to Enrol at university.

Bachelor of Fine Arts

To apply for a Bachelor of Fine Arts you will need to submit an application and portfolio of your work by 15 November. You are not permitted to delay (defer) your place. This means you will need to apply just prior to your intended start date.

If you are going overseas, it would be advisable to have your work ready for submission prior to departing in case you are not back with sufficient time to prepare this before it is due.

Bachelor of Music and Performance music courses

If you’re interested in any of the Performance  courses, you will be required to attend an audition. You need to apply and audition in the year prior to your intended start. 

If you are interested in Song Writing or Notated Composition you must submit a portfolio of original work.

Teacher Education and Sport Coaching

Students wishing to apply to study initial teacher education in Early Childhood, Primary, Physical Education, or Sport Coaching will need to apply for programme entry. Applications are open by July each year.

If you are planning to submit your application from overseas, you will need to make arrangements for the required documents and referees’ reports to be supplied to UC. For some initial teacher education programmes an interview may be required.

Application to Enrol

If you are planning to enrol while overseas, we strongly recommend you do this early. Enrolment opens in early October and applications are due before the second Monday in December for study in the following year.   

Most first-year students need to submit a verified copy of their birth certificate or passport before an offer is made. If you are going overseas, it is sensible to leave this documentation with someone who can send it to UC on your behalf. 

Course advice

If you take a gap year, you will not be able to take advantage of our course planning visits to schools. There are, however, still several ways for you to get advice on the courses you should study in your first year:


If you are planning to pay your tuition fees by Student Loan and are going overseas, you should check with StudyLink what documentation they require before you leave New Zealand. 

We recommend that you apply for a Student Loan as early as possible as any delay in the payment of your fees will delay completing your enrolment. 


Each year the University invites all new students and their families for a relaxing, fun and informative day of welcoming celebrations at UC Orientation Day. This gives new students an opportunity to find their way around campus, make new friends and to get prepared for their first day of tertiary education. 

There is also an opportunity for parents to find out more about the University with a range of special orientation events designed specifically for them. Orientation Day


Some first-year scholarships require you to apply in advance of any gap period taken. If you are successful, you may be permitted to delay (defer) the scholarship until you start your studies. Other scholarships require you to apply during the gap period.

Scholarships details, including value, may change from year to year and are related to the year that the you want to begin your studies. In some cases, scholarships are restricted to school leavers moving directly on to university study. This means gap students are ineligible.

If you are planning to take a gap period, before you go, you should check the applications forms of first-year scholarships for their terms and conditions and if in doubt, seek advice from the Scholarships Office.

Most first-year scholarships close for applications during Term 3 each year. 


We recommend viewing UC’s Student Accommodation before taking a break. This will give you a good idea which hall you think would suit you best and help you choose your preference for your application form. Tours of the UC Campus and Student Accommodation can be booked online.  ‌

There are two parts to the accommodation application process, an online application form which you complete and a common confidential reference form to be completed by your school.

Applications must be made in the year prior to taking up residence and cannot be deferred. You can request that your school complete the common confidential reference form which we will hold until you submit your application. You need to make sure that this form is clearly marked with the year in which you are applying for residence.

Find out how to Apply for a hall

University Student Exchange Programme

You don't have to take a gap year to enjoy overseas travel - you could do an overseas exchange WHILE you study at UC!

UC has student exchanges with over 50 partner universities worldwide where you can spend a year or a semester studying towards your UC degree on exchange. You remain enrolled at UC for the duration of your exchange and pay UC tuition fees only.

Most students go on exchange in the second or third year of their degree, but it’s a good idea to start planning early. Find out more information about international exchanges

Stay In Touch

Complete our online form and we'll ensure you're kept up to date on key dates and important information for students on a gap year.

Gap year student profiles

The following profiles feature students who took a gap year before starting study at UC.

Download our Gap Year Info Sheet