Advanced Research Computing


Support for UCL researchers to use GitHub

How we can help UCL researchers to access the services of GitHub, the world-leading service provider of source code management and software development collaboration tools.

For step by step instruction see our user guide:

Service description

This is a Gateway Service provided by ARC: GitHub provides the service, which ARC offers to researchers “as is”. ARC 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 ARC 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

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. Read the guide "How to setup GitHub for a research project".

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.

Private repositories

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

Non-profit research

Research groups can create organisations hosting up to twenty free private repositories for their group. These are only available for non-profit research.

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 our instructions for 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 ARC.Collaborations@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.

Note that users cannot give new users who are not already in the UCL Github organisation access to the organisation. Please mail ARC.Collaborations@ucl.ac.uk to have users added to the organisation. Access to private repositories for non-UCL members can be granted by adding them as collaborators to the repository.

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

Inclusions and exclusions


All features of GitHub, including:

Local support and training:


While we have sourced, and recommend, this third-party product, UCL ARC 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 ARC.
  • ARC is not liable to UCL colleagues for security or reliability issues with GitHub’s product.
  • ARC 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 the Research Data Storage Service.
  • All liability for use of the service remains with the research group. ARC disclaims responsibility for any breach of security allowing undesired access to users’ code.

Responsibilities of parties

ARC is responsible for:

  • Offering 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.

Service users


This service is available to all UCL academic, research and professional services 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 the instructions in our how-to guide.

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 ARC.


For queries about ARC support, and feedback on the selection of GitHub as service provider: ARC.Collaborations@ucl.ac.uk.

For support with the GitHub product, bug reports, and problems with GitHub, contact them via their web form.