Do Backlogs matter for Study Abroad?

10 mins read2.5L Views 215 Comments
Piyush Kohli
Study Abroad Expert
Updated on Apr 5, 2023 22:38 IST

Do Backlogs Matter?

A common question we often come across by the study abroad aspirants is whether or not backlogs matter. To answer this, it entirely depends upon the region one aspires to study in. Backlogs can have repercussions such as delayed graduation date or taking up extra courses in order to compensate for the failed or missed courses. Students are therefore advised to stay in touch with their academic advisors so that they can recognise and deal with any backlog issues as soon as possible. This way they will be able to stay on the track and meet the requirements for graduation. Get knowledge regarding How to Apply to Universities Abroad before moving ahead with your application.

Before we move on to discuss which regions accept backlogs and which do not, it is important to understand what backlogs exactly are and how they are counted.

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What is a Backlog?

Do all of us understand the backlog meaning? A backlog is an exam that you could not clear in the first attempt. It can also happen when one drops a course or does not take a needed programme in a particular semester. Please note that it is mandatory to appear for the exam the next time under any circumstances in order to avail your degree from the institution of study.

Absenteeism: In an ideal situation, absenteeism should not be counted as a backlog. For instance, you did not appear for the exam due to sickness, accident, or any other genuine reason. However, in the case of absenteeism, you should always confirm from your academic institution whether they mark an 'Absent' or write 'Zero' in the score column against the exam subject that you could not appear for.

Note: It is essential to confirm this from the institute because 'a zero in the score column' would refer to Backlog, not Absent. If you have already received your academic transcript, then you should check in your mark sheet whether yours is marked as a Backlog or an Absenteeism.

Check: What are Academic Transcripts and How to get it?

How are Backlogs Counted?

No backlog certificate is the document you receive if you do not have any backlogs. Some countries count the number of subjects as the number of backlogs, while some count the number of attempts you took to clear those backlogs. These are as follows:

In most of the countries, Number of Attempts ≠ Number of Backlogs!

In the rest of the world, the number of times you have appeared to clear a subject has got nothing to do with the number of your backlogs. For example, if you had to appear 5 times to clear a backlog in 1 subject, you would still have only 1 backlog (not 5). However, if you had to clear 5 subjects and you did that in 1 attempt each, you would have 5 backlogs. You cannot have 20 subjects and more than 20 backlogs, even if you failed in all of them 10 times each.

In Australia and Germany, Number of Attempts = Number of Backlogs

The universities in Australia and Germany count the number of attemps as the number of backlogs. These countries pay special emphasis to the attempts in order to judge a student's sincerity towards examination. In other words, if you cleared 1 subject in 3 attempts, the number of backlogs would be ‘3’. Similarly, if you had backlogs in 2 subjects, 1 of which you cleared 2 attempts and the other in 3 attempts, then the total number of backlogs would be counted at (2 3=5). Likewise, if you had backlogs in 3 subjects, for which you took 1 attempt each, then it would be counted as 3 backlogs.

Note: It is necessary to understand that if the backlog subject was not a major one, then some universities may accept your application.

What is a backlog certificate?

A backlog certificate is a sheet issued by your academic institution that has details about your backlogs. In case you had no backlogs, your institute would not provide you with any such certificate. Whether you have or do not have backlogs, universities abroad may ask you to submit a backlog certificate to certify your academic records along with academic transcripts. Sepcially, if you are applying to Australian Universities, you would need to ask your academic institution to provide you with a 'zero backlog' certificate for clearance.

Check out all the details on backlog certificate:

Can you study abroad with backlogs?

The answer to this question is 'Yes'. Backlogs are accepted in almost every country. Nevertheless, there is always a limited number of backlogs that are accepted in every region. Every college, national or international, wants to select the best candidates for sure. What students need to understand in this regard is what makes their profile strong. There are many good universities across the globe that select average profile if they find them suitable for the kind of courses they have to offer. Also, its an important question that does backlog affect placement? And the answer is that as long as you have cleared your backlogs before the placements, it will not affect the placement. 

Note: You cannot apply to universities abroad with Active Backlogs!

How many backlogs are allowed to study abroad?

The minimum and maximum number of backlogs accepted by abroad universities varies with study destination. It would be ideal to say that every country accepts backlogs to an extent. There are both lenient and strict regions in the world that may or may not accept high number of backlogs respectively. The strict regions give high importance to the academic profiles of international students and consider their overall percentage strictly refusing to accept more than a limited number of backlogs.

Check: European Countries Accepting Backlogs

To what extent are backlogs accepted?

Colleges that accept average candidates from across the world have some or the other selection criteria for their profile evaluation. Some colleges focus on your clear academic records where there is no scope for backlogs, while some select you on the basis of your recent scores in the standardised exams such as GMAT, GRE, IELTS, TOEFL, and PTE. Also, as dicussed above, the subject in which you had a backlog also matters while applying to universities abroad. Other criteria for getting selected by these colleges are your curricular and non-curricular achievements. Let us discuss the countries and explore universities that accept backlogs.

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Which countries are strict towards backlogs?

To categorise the global universities region-wise, it would be ideal to say that backlogs play a huge role in your profile evaluation American, Canadian, or Australian Universities. Considering the fact that these are the most popular and cherishable regions for studying abroad, the universities in these countries demand the best profiles from across the globe.

Is it possible to study in USA with backlogs? How many backlogs are allowed in the USA?

As most of us know, the US universities give preference to candidates with zero backlogs, there is always a scope for students who can be selected with a maximum of 5 backlogs by some universities. In case of 7-8 backlogs, the loophole is to score well in the GRE exam (somewhere form 315–325) to get selected by a few reputed US universities. For students who want to study in USA with more than 8 backlogs, it is suggested to take some external help for finding some of the fine institutes before making an application to save their time, efforts and money.

Check out the List of USA Universities that accept Backlogs.

Are Canadian Universities strict towards accepting backlogs? How many backlogs are allowed in Canada?

The Canadian universities accept a maximum of 5 backlogs in your under-graduation but only if you have a minimum score of 70%. Though there are always exceptions, for applicants with 7-8 backlogs, there are some universities that require you to have a minimum of 65% undergraduate score. For the PG aspirants with 10-12 backlogs, options are available in PG Diploma courses, not the Degree ones. These Canadian universities also include the SPP Colleges of Canada. To receive Canada visa with 40 backlogs is not possible. However, there are dead backlogs as well. Dead backlog meaning is that you have cleared the subject in which you once had a backlog.

Check out the Canadian Universities Accepting Backlogs.

Do Australian Universities have tough criteria for selecting students with backlogs? How many backlogs are allowed in Australia?

The private colleges of Australia do not consider students with more than 7-8 backlogs, while the leading colleges or the Go8 Universities accept at most 3 backlogs. If you have 8 or more backlogs, chances of being selected are higher in the non-private colleges of Australia.

Note: Australian universities count the number of attempts you have made to clear one exam/subject. For more information, read Australian Universities accepting backlogs

Do backlogs matter in Germany?

German universities pertain to strict guidelines while accepting applications from students with backlogs, with renowned ones not accepting backlogs at all.

Note: Some of the lenient universities accept up to 5 backlogs, but likewise Australia, they count the number of attempts you had to make to clear a single backlog/subject.

Do Universities in Ireland give importance to backlogs?

Some colleges in Ireland may consider candidates with 4-5 backlogs, while some renowned institutions would still reject the applicants with 2-3 backlogs. For more details, read Irish Universities Accepting Backlogs.

Learn about the importance of Credential Evaluation. You might also want to check the relevance of College Rankings.

Which countries accept maximum backlogs?

Everything has loopholes. Luckily, there are some lenient regions abroad that do not give much importance to backlogs. They can rather be impressed with students’ overall personalities and extracurricular profiles. Some of the popular study abroad destinations, that is the UK and New Zealand, do not have such difficult selection criteria for a profile evaluation. Universities do not give much consideration to the college backlogs.

Does United Kingdom accept backlogs?

The best part of the UK universities is that students can easily try out their luck even if they have 15 backlogs, however, they are required to have a minimum IELTS score of 6.0 along with a good GRE score. Find out which universities accept 5-10 backlogs and which universities accept more than 15 backlogs here: UK Universities accepting backlogs

Note: The influential UK universities do not have any scope for applicants with backlogs, even if they have an outstanding IELTS or GRE score.

Is it true that New Zealand Universities offer flexibility in accepting students with backlogs?

The universities in New Zealand may accept up to 4 backlogs, but colleges and institutes would consider your application even with 15 backlogs. In both cases, your score in IELTS and a list of extracurricular activities along with research projects would play a vital role. Read: New Zealand universities accepting backlogs

Check out more European Countries Accepting Backlogs.

Irrespective of the region it falls in, each university has its own selecting procedure the candidates with backlogs, it is hence suggested to check the university prospectus to learn about their selection norms.

An interesting fact about the selection norms in some colleges is that there are numerous colleges that do not give much consideration to your previous academic failures but focus on your overall personality. They give consideration to your active participation in the extracurricular activities and non-academic achievements such as sports recognitions, presentational or leadership records, etc. Things like research projects, work experience or internships, training certifications, etc. also recompense for your backlogs.

All this can be well-explained through the supporting documents that you require during the application procedure, such as SOPs, Admission Essays, LORs, CVs, etc. which also prove helpful while applying for scholarships.

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As everything good comes with some challenges, it is essential to remember that these universities charge high fees from the candidates with backlog history. Check out everything you need to know about affording the college expenses through educational loans and visa application.

Learn how the admission committee evaluates your profile.

Although, universities abroad do prefer students with high academic score and clear acacdemic profile, they still accept applications with a history of backlogs. Hence,the disadvantages of supplementary exams are not very much if you have used it to clear your backlogs. It is certain that we cannot go back in our past to clear out our records. Had we received this opportunity, our first priority would have been to not let that backlog happen. Unfortunately, this is not the case, and our academic transcripts say it all. Yet there is nothing to get disheartened about this fact. Our next step should be searching for what’s best for us.

If you require professional assistance in this regard, it is recommended that you connect with the study abroad experts, who are qualified and certified to help you with what you desire. You might want to read how Shiksha counsellors rate student chances of getting into a college abroad?

All the best!

About the Author
Piyush Kohli
Study Abroad Expert

With a plethora of knowledge of the education domain, Piyush Kohli has been involved with study abroad for over 5 years and counting. He comes with prior experience on the complexities of the study abroad applicatio... Read Full Bio





a month ago

I have completed M.Sc in biotechnology with two backlogs. Which is completed. Can I apply for full scholarship abroad for PhD in biotechnology?

Reply to Archana


Jawad Ahmed

5 months ago

I have completed by Bsc I had backlogs in 3 subjects and it took me 8 attempts to pass them. My Cgpa is 3.37 Can I study in tier-1 universities of Canada,Uk,France,Turkey or Malaysia with this profile?

Reply to Jawad Ahmed


Benathy Andrews

6 months ago

I have 10 backlogs (failed papers) and 30 attempts in i have cleared it with 5 years do I have any chance to get admitted in abroad university (esp~ newzeland)

Reply to Benathy Andrews


Gurpreet Singh

8 months ago

I have 16 backlogs in my 4 year mechanical. I have cleared all in time. Study Visa chances of Australia?

Reply to Gurpreet Singh

Hello Gurpreet! You can definitely apply for admission to Australian Universities. You can check which Australian Universities accept how many backlogs at - once you get admitted at the university, you will



Umama Azhar

11 months ago

will it be problematic if a student has got grace in one subject in only first year ??

Reply to Umama Azhar


Aprant Agarwal

11 months ago

Can you please elaborate your query? If you have completed your course and are in possession of all the marksheets, then you can apply. However the selection criteria and academic requirements will vary from university to university.

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