Pregnancy and adoption

If you or your partner is pregnant, or you are in the process of adopting, UCL can provide a range of support and facilities to help you manage your studies at this time.

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UCL's guiding principles

Our approach is informed by the Equality Act (2010) and by the guidelines produced by the Equality Challenge Unit. We will always treat information about your pregnancy sensitively. This information will only be passed on to the relevant members of staff on a need to know basis and with your consent.

Informed decisions

UCL members of staff will provide you with relevant information to enable you to make informed decisions. Staff will not attempt to unduly influence your decisions with regard to your pregnancy or studies.

If you choose not to inform UCL of your pregnancy, but we have genuine concerns about your health and safety, we may need to approach you to discuss matters related to your pregnancy.

Support from UCL

As well as the usual student support we offer, UCL also offers specific support for pregnant students. We want to offer you the best help we can. You are under no obligation to inform us of your pregnancy, but do bear in mind that we cannot assist you with your learning, access and assessment arrangements if we do not know. As early as possible, we encourage you to inform your: 

  • Personal Tutor
  • Department Tutor 
  • Programme Tutor
  • Principal Supervisor (research degree students)
Pregnancy support plan

We can work with you to develop and deliver a pregnancy support plan. This will help to ensure that reasonable adjustments are made and your needs are met during your pregnancy, following the birth and when you return to study.

The plan might include identifying any relevant risks associated with your study programme, and managing these risks to suit you best. The main risks are associated with physical activity or exposure to some chemicals, radiation and biological agents. Therefore, we will complete a risk assessment with you. 

Support plans will need to be reviewed prior to assessments or examinations, field trips, an industrial placement or study abroad period and prior to your return to study.

If you wish, further meetings will be arranged at relevant points throughout your pregnancy to ensure that your support is sufficient and that problems can be dealt with safely and effectively. You can also arrange an informal meeting with UCL Student Support and Wellbeing and a member of staff from your academic department to:

  • Receive advice on the support available to you
  • Learn more about your study options
  • Review your pregnancy support plan

Contact UCL Student Support and Wellbeing

UCL-allocated accommodation

Subject to availability, you can apply for family accommodation at UCL. However, should you interrupt your studies for reasons relating to pregnancy or maternity whilst you are in UCL-allocated accommodation, your accommodation contract will end when you begin your interruption of studies.

You will not incur any additional costs for leaving your accommodation early. We recommend that you contact the UCL Accommodation team for further information.

Access to UCL systems and facilities 

Your registration status at UCL will remain unchanged during the time of your maternity leave. This means you will still be able to access:

  • UCL support services
  • Physical and electronic resources from UCL libraries
  • Your UCL ID card
  • Your department
  • Your UCL email account (please remember to update your password when prompted to avoid expiry)

Assessments and examinations

If you wish, you may continue working towards your assessment deadlines or sit examinations, even if these are near or at the time when you are due to give birth. We are able to put specific examination adjustments in place for you, such as:

  • Special examination facilities
  • Rest breaks
  • Comfortable and supportive chair

To ensure adjustments are arranged on time, please email your request at least 6 weeks before your examinations are due to take place.

Approaching your concerns

During your pregnancy at university, you may experience: 

- Concerns about examinations or meeting assessment deadlines
- A pregnancy-related health condition that is exacerbated by stress
Significant pregnancy-related problems

If this is the case, you are required to seek advice from your midwife or doctor. Should your midwife or doctor advise against you sitting exams or working to meet assessment deadlines, please get in touch with your department. They will be able to offer support and help you consider possible alternatives. 

Overseas (non-EU/EEA/Swiss) students

Maternity benefits

If you are an international student, it is unlikely that you will be entitled to maternity benefits, and UCL recommends that you return home unless you have sufficient funds to remain in the UK. If you have financial sponsors, you need to inform them of your circumstances and agree an appropriate plan of action. Also remember that, though airlines have different policies, many do not allow pregnant women to travel beyond 36 weeks (or 32 weeks in the case of a complicated pregnancy).

Immigration and visas

If you require a visa to study in the UK, you will not be able to extend your visa for reasons relating to pregnancy and maternity. We strongly recommend that you contact the UCL Student Immigration Advice team to discuss your immigration status in more detail.

Students on a placement or studying abroad

Pregnancy whilst abroad

If you find that you are pregnant while you are on an industrial placement or studying abroad, you should contact your placement tutor or the Study Abroad team in the first instance. UCL staff will assist you to access advice and support that allows you to make informed choices about your studies in light of your pregnancy, even while you are away from UCL. We will work with you and your host organisation or institution to ensure that reasonable adjustments are made where necessary.

If you are on a student visa, you will need to consider how this could be affected by your pregnancy. You may need to extend your stay abroad or curtail it early and return at a later date.

You will be covered by the UCL Travel Insurance Policy. However, the usual restrictions for travelling against medical advice apply. Please read the Travel Insurance Policy wording carefully.

Pregnancy before departure

If you find that you are pregnant in the lead-up to departure for your placement abroad, please contact your Study Abroad Tutor or the Study Abroad team as soon as possible. Arrangements can be made to support you.

Maternity-related absence

Starting maternity leave

When you begin your maternity leave is up to you. You can study up to your due date if you wish, though you should agree this with your department in advance. You are required to inform your Personal Tutor, Departmental Tutor, Programme Tutor or Principal Supervisor of the date on which you intend to start your maternity-related absence at least 15 weeks before your baby is due.

Length of absence

The length of your absence is also up to you to decide. UCL recommends that you take at least six months to a year’s interruption to focus on your health and your new baby. At the very least, you will be required to take two weeks’ compulsory maternity-related absence from study, or at least four weeks if you are on a placement away from UCL. This is to ensure your own health and safety following the birth.

If we are concerned about your proposed return date, we may ask you to provide evidence from your GP or health worker that you are ready and fit to return to study. Read here to learn more about the UCL interruption of study process

Students whose partner is pregnant

We are also keen to support you if your partner is expecting a child. You are encouraged to notify your Personal Tutor, Departmental Tutor, Programme Tutor or Principal Supervisor as early as you can. Where possible, they will work to: 

  • Allow you to attend antenatal appointments with your partner
  • Support you if your partner develops any complications with their pregnancy
  • Support you if your partner has a maternity-related illness
Parental absence

If you wish to take parental absence, you need to notify UCL in writing at least 15 weeks prior to your partner’s due date. However, early notification is always preferable, particularly if the period of leave coincides with any planned assessment or key stage of your research.

You can discuss the start date and length of your parental absence with your department. Absences of longer than two weeks will require you to interrupt your studies.


Similar to our support for pregnant students, if you (or you and your partner) are matched for adoption, you are encouraged to notify your Personal Tutor, Departmental Tutor, Programme Tutor or Principal Supervisor as early as possible.

If you are the primary adopter, your department will work with you as best they can to agree a support plan, including required absences. If your partner is the primary adopter, support will be provided in line with the advice for partners of pregnant students above.