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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; it will only be passed on on a need to know basis and with your consent. UCL members of staff will provide you with relevant information to enable you to make informed decisions and will not attempt to unduly influence your decisions with regard to your pregnancy or studies.

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

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

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. In light of this, you are encouraged to inform your Personal Tutor, Departmental Tutor, Programme Tutor, or in the case of research degree students, Principal Supervisor of your pregnancy as early as you can. You are under no obligation to do so, but do bear in mind that we cannot assist you with your learning, access and assessment arrangements if we do not know.

If you wish, further meetings will be arranged at relevant points throughout your pregnancy to ensure that the support in place is sufficient and that any problems that arise can be dealt with safely and effectively. 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.

You can also arrange a meeting with UCL Student Support and Wellbeing to discuss your pregnancy and receive advice on the support which is available to you. This will be an informal meeting and you may like to include a member of staff from your academic department who can provide information about your studies and the options available to you there.

Contact UCL Student Support and Wellbeing to arrange a meeting.

Overseas (non-EU/EEA/Swiss) students

If you are an international student, it is unlikely that you will be entitled to maternity benefit, 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).

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 Student Immigration Advice team to discuss your immigration status in more detail.

Contact the UCL Student Immigration Advice team.

UCL-allocated accommodation

We are able to offer some family accommodation, which you can apply for. This will be offered to you subject to availability.

However, if you decide to interrupt your studies for reasons relating to pregnancy or maternity, and 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.

Contact UCL Accommodation for more information.

Maternity-related absence

When you begin your maternity leave is up to you to decide. If you wish, you can study up to your due date, if this is possible, though you should discuss and 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.

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 in order to allow you 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, to help 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 more about the interruption of study process.

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 both physical and electronic resources from UCL libraries.

Similarly, your UCL ID card will remain valid to ensure you have access to your department. You will also be able to continue using your UCL email account and need to remember to update your password when prompted so that it doesn't expire.

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, or a more comfortable and supportive chair. To ensure this is arranged on time, please email your request at least 6 weeks before your examinations are due to take place.

If you are concerned about sitting examinations or meeting assessed work deadlines, or if you have a pregnancy-related health condition that is exacerbated by stress, you are required to seek advice from your midwife or doctor. If your midwife or doctor advises against you sitting an examination or trying to meet the assessed work deadline, please discuss this with your Personal Tutor, Departmental Tutor, Programme Tutor or Principal Supervisor as soon as possible. They will be able to discuss your options with you, and offer possible alternatives.

If you happen to be experiencing significant pregnancy-related problems during the examination period or up to a deadline for assessed work, please raise the matter with your department. Staff there will be able to support and help you consider your options.

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 with you to allow you to attend antenatal appointments with your partner. If your partner develops any complications with their pregnancy, or any maternity-related illness, you should notify UCL so that we can help to support you.

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.

Read more about the interruption of study process.

Students on a placement or studying abroad

If you become pregnant while 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.

If you become pregnant before you are due to depart

If you find that you are pregnant in the lead-up to departure for your placement abroad, you should discuss this with your Study Abroad Tutor or the Study Abroad team as soon as possible so that arrangements can be made to support you, as outlined above.

Adoption

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, in line with the advice above for students who are pregnant. If your partner is the primary adopter, support will be provided in line with the advice for partners of pregnant students above.

Further Support

Which? Birth Choice

Which? Birth Choice offers a range of information on helping you to decide where to give birth. There's also free advice on pregnancy and childbirth itself, including pain relief, breastfeeding, life with a baby and more.

Visit Which? Birth Choice.