Durham University has offered many prospective students £5,000 to defer their studies until next year.
This comes after a record number of A-level students received the highest marks on this year's results day, thereby meeting their UCAS entry requirements.
As a result, many top universities like Durham were forced to offer far more places than usual.
The payment represents an attempt by the university to reduce the number of incoming students to normal levels.
Those who accepted places on the following courses have been offered the deal:
Students enrolled on joint honours courses incorporating these subjects have also received the offer.
The university has assured students that their places will be waiting for them next year.
Durham University Student Union (DUSU) has criticised the university's decision.
In a joint statement, DUSU academic officers Charlie Procter and Declan Merrington said they were "dismayed" at the "short-sighted" decision.
"We know that Universities like Durham have over recruited because of government policy decisions that were outside their control. However, how they have responded is a matter of choice," they said.
Declan Merrington - DUSU academic officer
Many students have already decided to accept the offer, ITV Tyne Tees understands, while others seriously considered doing so.
“That’s about six months' work for someone on a gap year," said 19-year-old geography enrolee Henry Gwilliam.
A fellow geography fresher, who does not want to be named, is also not accepting the offer but says she understands the university's decision.
"They don’t really have much choice with all the grade inflation," she said. "I did think about it but I have already taken a gap year [...] so I didn't think it was viable to take another one.
"[...] The offer does sound good, but compared to amounts that other unis are giving out, it's not as good."
Students accepted on selected oversubscribed courses elsewhere - including in the University of Nottingham, the University of Exeter and the University of Leeds - have reportedly been offered £10,000 to defer.
2021 A-level grade inflation in numbers
A spokesperson for Durham University said:
"Due to the popularity of studying at Durham and the unprecedented success of students in this year’s A-levels and other level 3 qualifications, we are inviting new undergraduate students in some departments to consider whether they would like to defer starting their studies with us by one year.
“Students who successfully apply to defer will receive a payment of £5,000, along with the offer of support and advice on how to spend the year before starting their studies. We have written to all students eligible to apply for this scheme.
“Whether students choose to begin their studies with us this year or next, they can look forward to a world-class academic and wider student experience.
"The number of deferrals will be dictated by the interest shown by students and by our commitment to ensure the quality of the learning and wider student experience."