Going to university is an exciting thing – you are entering the next stage of both your education and your life, full of new opportunities, both social and academic. Most university courses last between 3 – 5 years, but obviously students aren’t constantly at university for this whole time. The holidays for university students greatly differ from those at primary and secondary school, but this is because of the different content students are studying and where they are studying it. Many students find the changes in term dates and time off hard to adjust to, but hopefully this article will make the information easier to understand and grasp. So, do universities have half term?
The short answer is no. Universities do not have half term like primary and secondary schools, mostly because terms are much shorter for university students, and short breaks for 1-2 weeks would not be useful to students, especially if they have to travel a long way to and from university. There do not tend to be breaks in the middle of term at university, but the terms are a lot shorter than those at primary and secondary schools. Some universities have ‘reading weeks’ which may be the same length of time as the half terms you are used to, but students remain at university for this time, to study.
If you would like to learn more about university terms and their breaks then continue reading for more detailed answers to any other relevant questions you might have.
When are Students at University?
University students’ time at school differs from students in primary and secondary. Overall, there tends to be three periods of time in the university year (semesters) in which students are staying in their accommodation, and these last an average of 12 weeks each. Depending on the university you attend, you will likely study 6 modules over an entire year. These can be studied all at the same time throughout the year or some universities split the modules and do 3 modules in the first half of the year and the last 3 in the second half of the year. Portions of each module will be dedicated to going over content which you have previously covered. The time you are given for study leave and reading weeks also depends on the course you are taking – some courses may need more revision time than others, whereas some may not allow reading weeks at all.
Most universities choose to have the same term dates as others, but there are exceptions, so it’s a good idea to check on your university’s website about term dates. For more information on dates in the academic year, check out When Do Universities Start? and How Long Are University Semesters?
When Do University Students Get Time Off?
Unlike primary and secondary schools which have mostly the same term dates every year depending on their learning trust, university holiday dates tend to differ from year to year. Time off for students also depends on which courses they are taking, and which university they are going to. One thing is constant – there are breaks for students in Spring, Summer and Winter.
Students usually also have the opportunity to take study leave before important exams for a few days every term. However, this cannot be classed as a ‘holiday’ for students as they are meant to be spent preparing for the upcoming exams. Despite this, study leave can also be used as a time to step back from lectures at university and to go at your own pace, study-wise.
Another thing to note is that most university courses offer ‘reading weeks’, in which students are given time to get on top of work they may need to catch up on. In reading weeks, there are no lectures for students to go to, giving them opportunities to recap their work and prepare for upcoming assessments and deadlines.
How Long Are University Holidays?
Holidays for university students tend to be much longer than the average break for younger students. Time off can range from 3-12 weeks at a time, depending on the time of year or course you are studying. The reason holidays are much longer for university students is because they are much more useful that way – students who have to travel far to get to and from university would not find a one week break useful as they would probably spend most of it travelling. This applies to many international students and those up and down the country.
Longer breaks give students well-deserved time to rest and study for their next term at university without having to worry about losing time due to travel. At university, there are three terms per academic year. Between each of these terms is a break. The average length of these breaks tend to be 3-4 weeks in the Winter (Christmas), 4 weeks in the Spring (Easter) and 3 months in the Summer.
How to Spend Your Breaks from University
Once you start university, the workload can be a bit jarring – maybe you’re not used to how much work you get given, how many assessments you take, or the content which you are learning. This is why, during your breaks from your education, you must relax! Of course, it’s always a good idea to study to keep the content in your course fresh in your mind, but it is also important that you use your breaks to do exactly as the name says – have a break.
There are many ways to spend your breaks productively and in a way that will make you feel ready to return to university – going for a walk in your local area, catching up with your family and friends and pursuing your hobbies are just a few of the things you can do. Of course, during the COVID pandemic, some of these options may not be available to you, so you may want to do some research about fun ways to spend your days while staying safe. You may even want to get a small job to earn money for the future. It is important that you must not overwork yourself, as it is bad for both your physical and mental health.
For more ideas about how to spend your break in a way which will benefit your physical and mental health, check out 40 Productive Things To Do In The Holidays.
If you know that you have an exam coming up after a break, then it is a good idea to organise when in your holiday you would like to study for it. Perhaps you would like to create a study timetable or try out a new revision technique? Your longer breaks are a great time to try out new study methods and see how they work for you, especially your summer break. By the time you are at university, you probably know what the best way to study is for you, as you have already taken your GCSEs and A-Levels, but there is no harm in trying something new.
As stated before, no matter what is going on in your studies, overworking yourself with studying is a very bad idea. This goes for students at any level – GCSE, A-Level and any year of university. Overworking can lead to you burning out, which will have the opposite effect on your performance level in your exams. So, remember to give yourself a break when you are given the time to do so!
There we have it! It may seem a lot to take in – university is a big change from secondary school and sixth form college – but remember that there are millions of young people just like you adjusting to the changes you are facing. Ask any university student you know, and they will tell you that it is easy to adjust to your new term dates and the time you spend studying.