Why you should consider a January start at university

Not ready to start uni in September? You've got other options...

Everyone assumes you start university in September and if you miss the boat for whatever reason, then that’s it until the following year. But actually, it is possible to start in January doing a course you love and graduating just the same as anyone else.

Whether you didn’t get a place in September, you took a mini gap year or have already started a course you’re not happy on and want to transfer, then a January start could be the perfect opportunity.

Many universities will take students in the new year but the University of Buckingham specialises in a split year intake with 50% of the students starting in January and has done so ever since it was formed in the seventies. Buckingham also ranks top 10 for teaching quality, student experience and staff/student ratio from the Sunday Times and top for student satisfaction in the 2018 National Student Survey.

James Seymour, head of admissions and recruitment, reveals why starting in January could be the best thing you ever did.

Two year fast-track degrees

There are so many reasons why you might miss out on a place in September – didn’t get the right grades, couldn’t find a place through clearing, weren’t sure about your course choice and so on. But it doesn’t mean you have to wait another year before you can apply again.

Most of the courses at Buckingham accept January applicants and you can either apply through UCAS or directly with the university. Applying direct means you avoid the UCAS fee. 

Some of these courses last just two years, and indeed Buckingham is the only uni to offer a two-year psychology degree, for example. It means you can still come out with a degree of your choice but more quickly, saving you time and money.

James says: “You can come to university even a year later than your college friends and still graduate at the same time.”

You’ll be looked after

Just because you start in January doesn’t mean you miss out on all the traditions of university. At Buckingham you are guaranteed a place in the uni’s halls of residence and there is a second Freshers’ week to welcome the new intake.

James says: “We have a first year accommodation guarantee so students can live alongside their fellow first years when they arrive in January. We also have two Freshers’ weeks so no one misses out.

“We are genuinely here to help and make sure you settle in as easily as possible.”

I wanted to take a mini gap year but don’t want to wait until next year to start uni

Gap years are always a popular option but sometimes a year is a long time. If you only take out a few months volunteering or travelling or you run out of money what do you do when you get back and the new uni year is still months away?

Starting in January gives you the option of having that time and gaining that important life experience but without having to wait for ages to apply to uni.

I don’t like my current uni, can I change?

Starting uni in September doesn’t always work out the way you planned. You might find the uni you thought would be brilliant isn’t quite what you are hoping for. 

If you have already started a degree elsewhere but find the university just isn’t for you, a January intake allows you to transfer and continue your degree somewhere you do feel happier with no delay until the next September.

James says: “Students sometimes start uni and don’t settle, for example, because it was too large, too impersonal or accepted an unconditional offer from another university in haste. We are very experienced at welcoming students who want to transfer and restart with us.

“You can end up with smaller class sizes, smaller tutorial groups and more focus on teaching, helping students to really engage with their subjects.”