The coronavirus pandemic has wreaked havoc across the globe and has put many lives on hold for a significant amount of time, as entire countries have had to go into lockdown.
All universities will offer advice specific to their institutions about the Covid-19 crisis – for example this information page from the University of Leeds – so make sure you read any information provided thoroughly while researching postgraduate courses. This will enable you to make the right decision as to whether to opt for a January start date instead. Here are some points to consider.
Some universities won’t give you a choice
Around half of the UK's Russell Group universities are considering delaying their postgraduate courses to begin in January of 2021. This might mean that you may wish to start in September, but you have no choice but to begin in January 2021. Others, such as the University of Sheffield and Cardiff University, are planning for postgraduate students to start in October to allow international students enough time to gain student visas.
How will the course be delivered?
For universities that have always traditionally offered online or distance learning, then the academic year of 2020-2021 will continue as previous years have done. Many universities are offering online options for the first semester of the PG program then returning to on-campus learning. If you are considering an on-campus course, then waiting to find out how it will be delivered will give you the information you need to make the right decision.
You’re not alone
Approximately 20% of undergraduate students are considering deferring their entry by a year and plenty of postgraduate students will be thinking along the same lines. If the academic year goes as planned, then many universities in the UK plan to be operating a full compliment of postgraduate courses with on-campus face-to-face teaching, and by deferring to January you will be able to take full advantage of this.
Give yourself time
Many potential postgraduate students have had their plans changed by the Covid-19 crisis. If you are completing an undergraduate degree, then you will have found there have been profound changes to your course and how your work is assessed. This means that you might want to access your options and decide what is right for you now, rather than what you planned. The extra few months will allow you to consider other universities or institutions and gain a little extra experience.
Time away from work
Explaining that you are taking a year out from your career is never easy, but the January start date can be more convenient for many industries and businesses as this is the quieter time. This will allow the time for the person who is covering your temporary absence to train in your role before it gets busy. January 2021 will also be after many of the UK Government and other countries support schemes for employees will have ended, so you will have a good idea about your future career options by then too.
Postgraduate courses delaying until 2021
Here are some UK postgraduate programs that are now offering start dates at the beginning of 2021.