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National Service (NS) Deferment Policies for Universities: A Comprehensive Guide

11/04/20249 minute read
National Service (NS) Deferment Policies for Universities: A Comprehensive Guide

How do you navigate your university application with National Service on the horizon? What are the deferment policies available for the top universities in the world? While NS is a key milestone for many, it can pose a challenge when preparing for university. Read on to learn more about the various deferment policies available at top US and UK universities, and how you can navigate your deferment!

What is National Service?

National Service has been an essential part of Singapore’s defence force since its inception. Over the years, over a million men have embraced this duty, as it continues to be a vital rite of passage for every Singaporean and Permanent Resident male. Every individual who has gone through NS has made a meaningful contribution, helping to ensure the nation’s enduring peace and security.

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What are the different NS deferment policies?

UK Universities (UCAS)

You’re allowed to select a deferred start date for your chosen course in your UCAS application. However, it’s important to also contact the university before submitting it to ensure that they are willing to accept your deferred application. In most cases, you can only defer entry by one year in your UCAS application, and the decision lies with the university on whether it's accepted for your course. Courses like Medicine and Mathematics do not allow for 2 years of deferment so remember to check with the intended university.

Should you require two years of deferment, you’d have to leave a comment in your application or email the university to request for an additional year of deferment. Do note that while UK universities try to accommodate all deferment requests, they are subject to approval.

US Universities

Getting a deferment for US universities is slightly different from the UK, as there is no deferred entry option in your application. Instead, you’d have to submit a letter or a deferral form to the universities’ admissions office to request deferment. Again, remember to review the courses you intend to apply for as some may require students to start at certain times of the year.

Do note that in the US, deferral is also a term used for early action or early decision applications. In this instance, a deferred application means that it has been redirected to the regular applications pool for a second review. This happens when the admissions department isn’t ready to make a final decision about the candidate. As such, do review the university’s deferment policy closely to avoid getting the terms mixed up.

NS deferment policies of Top US Universities

NS Deferment Policies of Top UK Universities

How to navigate your NS deferment

Now that you have a clearer picture of the deferment policies of the different US and UK universities, here are a few considerations about your deferment.


Financial aid in the form of scholarships or grants are typically offered on a conditional basis. If you’re offered any form of financial aid, remember to check with the granting authority and/or the university to understand whether your eligibility will be affected by the deferment.

Additionally, if you’ve successfully deferred your university offer, you might also need to pay a deposit to hold your spot. This fee ranges from a few hundred to several thousand dollars, and you will not receive the deposit back should you decide to withdraw your deferral request.

Test score validity

While standardised tests like SAT or ACT are optional for many universities, a strong score can strengthen your application and scholarship chances. However, some of these tests do have a validity window and may expire after some time. This varies between different universities so remember to check their websites regularly!

Note that admissions tests like the University Clinical Aptitude Test (UCAT) or the Law National Aptitude Test (LNAT) are only valid for the year it is taken in. Remember to factor this into your consideration as you’d likely have to prepare for such tests during NS.

Expand your knowledge

Continuing your studies directly after graduating high school is indeed easier than having a deferred entry. Your skills and knowledge remain fresh which facilitates an easier transition into university life. However, this two-year period doesn’t necessarily have to put you at a disadvantage as there are several ways to maximise your time!

As mentioned previously, some admissions tests are only valid for a year which means that you should aim to regularly refresh your memory with your learning materials. Try learning new things as well! Check out the various Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs) available that offer accessible remote learning opportunities worldwide. Even universities like Harvard and MIT offer a variety of free online courses covering disciplines like Computer Science and Biology. This presents a valuable opportunity to delve deeper into a specific topic or to explore new ones!

Here’s another tip: if you have successfully deferred your university entry, you might be able to contact your future professors or explore the course page. Try to find out the course readings that will be covered in the syllabus, and read them at your own pace to strengthen your understanding.

Build your profile

In addition to expanding your academic knowledge, we suggest paying attention to your extracurricular profile as well. With weekends and public holidays off during NS, you’ll have the time to engage in volunteering activities so try to keep an eye out! Not only does this contribute to the community, it also demonstrates your overall commitment, leadership skills, and sense of civic duty.

NS is a great time to work on a capstone project or side hustle as well. Essentially, these projects are long term endeavours that build on your interests and knowledge. Whether it’s a research paper, a tech invention, or a community service project, these initiatives help set you apart from other candidates by showcasing your expertise in a particular subject and your passion and dedication. In fact, the experience that you’ll gain from these projects is invaluable for your personal development!

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Want to learn more?

Confused about NS deferment and university admissions? We've helped many students through the process. Schedule a free consultation with Crimson Education's experts to get personalised guidance.