UCL Information Services Division


Service definition for UCL GitHub gateway


The Research Software Development Team (RSDT) is supporting UCL researchers in accessing the services of GitHub, the world-leading service provider of source code management and software development collaboration tools, with a new service "Research Software Development Infrastructure: UCL GitHub Gateway". For further information see:

Service description

This is a Gateway Service: GitHub provides the service, which RSDT offers to researchers “as is”. RSDT provides local training, support, and advice, and absorbs costs for use of the service.

  • GitHub provides:

    • version control
    • issue tracking
    • code hosting
    • hosting documentation and pages about your project
  • UCL RSDT provides

    • Local support, advice, and training for users in access to and use of GitHub's services.
    • Payment of costs for private github repositories on the UCL account (private, non open-source repositories on GitHub are free only for non-profit research, but UCL will meet the costs for UCL research which doesn't qualify for free GitHub repositories.)

Public and private repositories

Public repositories:

Groups wishing to create public, open source repositories are encouraged to do so in their own organisation accounts at will. Instructions for creating a GitHub organisation account for your research group can be found here.

Such groups may contact us for training and help with using GitHub. Support is limited by our availability and is provided on a best-efforts basis.

In due course, we will be adding to the service an automated secure backup of all UCL GitHub repositories of which we are made aware.

Private repositories

Non-profit research

Researchers wishing to create private, password-protected repositories have two options.

Research groups can create organisations hosting up to twenty free private repositories for their group, following the instructions here. These are only available for non-profit research, so groups with a significant commercial element to their work have another option:

Other research

If groups do not qualify for free private repositories, or exceed their limit of 20 free private repositories, they qualify for access to the centrally funded UCL account, where private repositories are paid for by UCL. Please follow these instructions for information as to how to access this service.

Access to repositories is managed using teams of one or more members with read, write or admin access to specific repositories. These teams should have one or more maintainers with the rights to add or remove users from the team. If your existing team does not have a maintainer please mail rc-softdev@ucl.ac.uk with maintainer information. As soon as the team has a maintainer, that maintainer may promote other members of the team to maintainer level. Maintainers with admin rights are free to create new teams with more restricted access to the same repositories giving others read or write access to the repository in question. 

Users don't have the rights to create additional repositories so please mail rc-softdev@ucl.ac.uk to have additional repositories created. There is no limit as to the number of repositories each team can have on the central account, but each repository costs UCL, so please be reasonable in your requests. From time to time users may be asked to delete or merge unused repositories.

Note that users cannot give new users, not already in the UCL Github organisation, access to repositories. Please mail rc-softdev@ucl.ac.uk to have users added to the organisation. 

The UCL Organisation on Github uses the "new" Github permission model. For more detailed information about permissions see the description from Github.

All users are encouraged to subscribe to the rsd-infrastructure mailing list This is a low volume mailing list with important information about UCL Github and related infrastructure.

Inclusions and exclusions


All features of GitHub, including:

Local support and training:


While we have sourced, and recommend, this third-party product, UCL Research Software Development Team does not provide any guarantees about GitHub.

  • The relationship for use of GitHub’s services is between researchers and GitHub, not between research groups and RSDT.
  • RSDT is not liable to UCL colleagues for security or reliability issues with GitHub’s product.
  • RSDT does not offer support with legal or contractual issues associated with use of the service.
  • GitHub is a cloud-based service, and does not guarantee that code remains within any particular jurisdiction or part of the globe. Groups for whom this is a problem should get in touch: we are exploring additional solutions for this user community.
  • The service is not suitable for hosting data other than software source code and research paper textual drafts.

Conditions of use

Local organisational accounts

Users who create their own public repositories in their own accounts may do so at will, without reference to our service or support.

Private repositories

Use of the UCL-funded central account to access private repositories carries certain conditions:

UCL researchers must ensure that all collaborators and partners are happy for their code to be hosted in a third-party cloud.

Users undertake not to store any data other than software source code or textual research papers on the system. In particular, users should ensure not to store large or confidential datasets on the system. Such users should make themselves aware of UCL Research Data Services.

All liability for use of the service remains with the research group. RSDT disclaims responsibility for any breach of security allowing undesired access to users’ code.

Responsibilities of parties

RSDT is responsible for:

  • Paying for private repositories within UCL’s central account
  • Gathering and feeding back to GitHub requests from UCL users for changes or improvements to the GitHub product
  • Providing training, support, and advice on use of GitHub to UCL researchers.

Researchers are responsible for:

  • Ensuring that they are authorised to store their code in GitHub’s cloud servers
  • Preventing abuse of the service by themselves or their team members
  • Ensuring that only source code, not data, is stored in GitHub
  • The security of their means of access to GitHub.
  • Verifying that the terms, conditions, and policies of GitHub’s services and products meet their needs and obligations. See Github Terms of Service

GitHub is responsible for:

  • Provision, maintenance, and management of their products and services

For for further information and support in managing your information security requirements, please refer to the Information Security Group (isg@ucl.ac.uk)

Service users


This service is available to all UCL academic and research staff.

Research students

Use of UCL-funded private repositories by research students is at the discretion of their supervisor: requests for access to private repositories should come from the supervisor. UCL students may, of course, also create open source repositories or private repositories in local organisations.

Students on taught courses

Students on UCL taught courses can obtain free accounts from GitHub.


Lecturers wishing to use GitHub for their teaching should follow these instructions

Researchers at UCL collaborating institutions

Research consortia should follow the signup instructions for local organisation accounts.

The central funded service is also available to collaborative projects with a significant UCL involvement who do not qualify for free local accounts. Requests should come from a UCL employee in the first instance, but groups may add non-UCL staff to their team.

Staff who leave UCL may continue to use a UCL-funded central private repository for a period of one year following departure, or indefinitely if UCL researchers continue to extensively contribute to or use the software, at the discretion of RSDT.


For queries about RSDT terms, and support, and feedback on the selection of GitHub as service provider: rc-softdev@ucl.ac.uk.

For support with the GitHub product, bug reports, and problems with GitHub: via support@github.com or a web form

A mailing list, rsd-infrastructure@ucl.ac.uk, joined via a web form , will be used for announcements about the service. Users signing up for UCL-funded private repositories, or users of open source repositories who notify us, will be added to this list.