The Characteristics of ‘Gap-Year’ Students and Their Tertiary Academic Outcomes


  • The authors wish to acknowledge the assistance of the University of Western Australia with data provision and the financial support provided by the Australian Research Council and the Department of Education, Science and Training. Helpful comments from the Editor (Harry Bloch), two anonymous referees, Jon Stubbs, and participants at the 2006 Quantitative Analysis of Teaching and Learning in Higher Education in Business, Economics and Commerce Forum are gratefully acknowledged. Opinions expressed in this paper are those of the authors and should not be attributed to the University of Western Australia or the sponsoring agencies.

: Paul W. Miller, Business School, Mail Bag M251, University of Western Australia, 35 Stirling Highway, Crawley, WA 6009, Australia. Email:


This study examines the determinants of taking a ‘gap-year’ (the decision to take a year off study between completing high school and commencing university) and the subsequent impact of this decision on marks at university. It finds that the main factors influencing students’ decisions on university deferment are their previous academic achievements, age and location. Students who defer university are found to have higher marks than students who commence university directly after completing high school. This mark advantage is more pronounced among low-performing students, particularly male students, who are in the lower-half of the university marks distribution.