Don't believe the Daily Mail's 'death of the gap year' - working holidays are still alive and kicking!

August 2011 saw the highest ever number of working
holiday visa packages processed by Visa Bureau.

A recent Daily Mail article by Kate Loveys made for curious reading recently. The article gives the impression that the gap year is set to become a thing of the past due to thousands of young Brits forsaking a gap year abroad, in favour of starting university and avoiding the hike in tuition fees. However, in our experience as a working holiday visa package providers to travellers planning a gap year to destinations like Australia and New Zealand, we've seen quite the opposite!

While the rise in tuition fees is certainly a cause of concern for thousands of British teenagers, we haven't seen any less demand for either the Australian working holiday visa or New Zealand working holiday visa.

In fact, last month was our biggest ever in terms of the number of applications for Australian working holiday visa packages we processed and compared to August, 2010, there was a 15% rise in the number of applications processed. We also saw a similar rise in demand for the New Zealand working holiday visa package, as our figures revealed an almost 20% rise in applications processed in August, 2011 compared to August, 2010.

While we can't speak for the gap year market as a whole, this certainly seems indicative that the idea of a year abroad is still very appealing to the youth of the UK.

The Daily Mail cites a stat from the Universities and Colleges Admissions Service (UCAS) that says only 6,000 18-year-olds have deferred a firm offer of a place on a university course for this year, compared to 20,000 last year, indicating that young people are keener to secure their university place than do anything else (like take a gap year).

However, while this might indicate that 18 year olds are choosing to start university sooner rather than later, it still seems unlikely that this will influence an individual's eventual decision to take a gap year. Increasingly, we've found that many young travellers choose to take a year out after they've completed their studies, rather than before.

The Australian and New Zealand working holiday visa programmes are built for this, in that it allows people aged between 18 and 30 to apply to live and work in Australia for up to a year. As a result, there's no urgency for teenagers fresh from college to apply for the visa, and they can choose instead to travel after finishing university (where they can gain some valuable life experience before entering the job market).

Applying for an Australian Working Holiday Visa

To be eligible for an Australian Working Holiday Visa, the application must be made overseas and the applicant must:

  • Be aged between 18 and 30 years (inclusive) of age and unaccompanied by dependent children;
  • Be an eligible passport holder with at least 1 year until renewal on their passport;
  • Be able to show sufficient funds for a return or onward fare and an adequate amount of funds for the first part of their stay; and
  • Be of good character and meet the health criteria.

Think you might be eligible? Fill in the online Australian working holiday visa application and find out!

Applying for a New Zealand Working Holiday Visa

To be eligible for the New Zealand Working Holiday Visa, applicants must:

  • Hold a valid passport from the country whose scheme they are applying under;
  • Be aged no less than 18 years of age and no more than 30 years of age
  • Not be accompanied by children;
  • Have a return ticket, or sufficient funds to purchase such a ticket;
  • Meet health and character requirements;
  • Be the holder of a valid temporary permit if applying from within New Zealand; and
  • Not previously have been approved a visa or permit under a Working Holiday Scheme.

Interested in living and working in New Zealand? Complete the online New Zealand working holiday visa application and see for yourself!

- Tom Blackett is Marketing Manager for the Visa Bureau.