Will backlogs affect your dream to study abroad?


8 July 2020 • 6 min read

“I have backlogs; this is a huge black mark in my academic profile, my dreams of studying abroad are over!”  

Are you kept up at night with such terrifying thoughts? You can sleep peacefully today because we are here to assure you, you can still study abroad despite backlogs. 

Before we get into the nitty-gritty details of the universities accepting backlogs, let us first understand what we mean by backlogs.

What are backlogs?

There seems to be a lot of confusion and speculation when it comes to the term backlogs. These are the subjects that you did not pass during your undergraduate program. Semester exams are a big part of finding out how well you learned a particular subject in your course. So, backlogs are a list of,

  • Exam that you attempted and failed (arrears) 
  • Exams that you could not take (absent). 

It is important to note that different countries have their own ways of counting backlogs. We know it is confusing, why can’t all the study abroad destinations come to one single understanding in this area?! To make things clear, we have separated the countries into two groups

  1. The number of failed subjects is the number of backlogs.

Most of the countries including the USA and the UK just consider the failed subjects as backlogs. They do not take into account the number of attempts you took to pass them. To understand this better, let’s look at two hypothetical students Jenny and Jimmy. 

Jenny failed in 3 subjects in her first semester. She attempted these exams again in her second semester and cleared them. Now Jenny has a record of 3 backlogs in her academic profile. 

Jimmy failed in 3 subjects in his first semester. He attempted these exams again in his second semester and failed all three again. He attempted them yet another time in his third semester and cleared them. Jimmy also has only three backlogs in his academic profile. His extra attempts are not counted. Only the failed subjects are counted

  1. The number of attempts to pass each subject is the number of backlogs.

Some countries like Australia and Germany consider the number of attempts as well. If we look at our hypothetical students yet again, in such countries, Jenny will have three backlogs and Jimmy will have six. 

These countries pay attention to the number of attempts to judge the dedication of students towards education.

Note: You can apply to various universities when you have active backlogs. If accepted, these universities will give you a conditional admission. You will have to clear all your backlogs before going to pursue your postgraduate course abroad. 

Top Study Destinations accepting Backlogs

As we mentioned in the beginning, you can go abroad to study even if you have backlogs. But, the number of backlogs accepted and the attitude towards backlogs varies from country to country. Let’s look at this one by one.

  • The United Kingdom

The UK is an accepting country. Universities in the UK do not primarily judge a student based on their academic profile alone. There is a long list of UK universities accepting students with backlogs every year. You can apply even if you have over 15 backlogs as long as you can show that you will be a sincere student going forward through your application and SOP. Most universities also expect you to have a strong IELTS score.

  • Canada

Canada is a little stricter, but there are Canadian colleges that accept backlogs. Most Canadian universities may consider you as a potential candidate even if you have up to 5 backlogs in your undergraduate. You should also make sure that you keep up a good overall percentage. Prominent universities expect a minimum of 65%. If you have a lower percentage or a higher number of backlogs, there is always the option of taking up a PG diploma before pursuing the course of your dream.

  • Australia

The attitude towards backlogs varies for private and non-private universities in Australia. Non-private universities only consider students with at most three backlogs. Private universities are a little more lenient, considering students with as much as eight backlogs.

  • Germany

Germany is a country that is very strict when it comes to backlogs. Most top universities do not accept students with any backlogs in their undergraduate degree. All hope is not lost, as some universities allow students with up to 5 backlogs. Another important detail, the number of attempts as discussed before are also counted as backlogs in Germany.

  • Ireland

Ireland is yet another country that is quite strict with backlogs. Some universities consider students with 4-5 backlogs. An overall good academic profile and strong SOP can strengthen your application to the universities of Ireland. You can develop a strong student profile by increasing your overall score and highlighting your co-curricular and extra-curricular activities.

  • New Zealand

Many universities in New Zealand accept students with over 15 backlogs! Though they are a bit lenient on the backlog front, you need to make up for it in your overall student profile. The universities will look into areas like extra-curricular activities and research projects during the admission process.   

  • The United States of America

The Universities of the USA do give more preference to students without any backlogs. Despite this, you can still get admission with even up to 8 backlogs. You need to choose your university correctly and you have to develop a strong student profile, along with good scores in aptitude and language tests like GRE and TOEFL.

Tip: Not all universities solely select their candidates based on their academic performance. There are various other selection criteria like student profile, performance in study abroad tests and the SOP. Make sure that you, 

  1. Build a strong and genuine student profile, 
  2. Highlight your passion and try to honestly explain your shortcomings with your backlogs through your SOP (statement of purpose),
  3. Prepare and perform well in your language and aptitude tests.

Will backlogs affect your Visa processing?

In general, backlogs will not affect the Visa processing and the visa interview for any country. As long your university accepts you and gives you a confirmed admission you will not have any problems with a Visa. If any questions about your backlogs are brought up during the interview, be confident and honest with your answer. 

Understandably, applying to go abroad with backlogs can be confusing. Many things like the right university, the right course, the right country for the number of backlogs need to be considered. This is an area in which our experienced education advisors can guide you. Feel free to reach out online. 


If you're looking for more details regarding a specific course or a particular country, feel free to reach out to our experienced educational counsellors online!


Log in