Student Pregnancy, Maternity, New Parenthood and Adoption Policy
We have a policy on supporting students who are going to become parents or who have recently become parents, or whose partners are expectant or new parents. The main thing is to consider talking to us as soon as possible so that we can work with you to make as many of the arrangements you want in good time. That also means if we have any concerns about your proposed arrangements there will be time to agree a solution.
Talking to us
You are not under any obligation to disclose to us if you become pregnant, including if your pregnancy ends, you are adopting a child, or have recently gained parental responsibility for a child.
However, if you tell us in good time, then staff can work with you to:
- Identify the information which is relevant to you, including any options or restrictions, such as in relation to funding schemes, or professional body regulations
- Taking into account your preferences where possible, help you plan and make arrangements, whether this is to start / continue with your programme, defer starting / studying until a later date, or another option
- (If you are pregnant) carry out a risk assessment to ensure the safety of yourself and your child. It will be particularly important to review any risks at an early stage if your programme may include activities such as lifting heavy or awkward items or working with hazardous chemicals
Information and planning
You are very much encouraged to make appointments at askUS to review:
- (If you are an international student in the UK on a visa) The implications for your immigration status and right to remain in the country, if that is what you would like to do.
- Sponsorship / bursary / funding for tuition fees / living costs for your programme of study and how this will be affected (if at all) by your plans.
- Financial support which you may be eligible for and how this could affect your student funding, benefits etc.
- Your accommodation, especially if you are living in private rented or student-only accommodation, or if you hope to change your accommodation arrangements due to your pregnancy, maternity or new parenthood.
- Who you will need to inform of relevant changes such as extending your period of study, taking time out from study, etc.
1. Understanding the impact on your course
Once you have gained a good understanding of the issues mentioned above and are starting to form a view of what you may want to do in relation to your programme of study, and if you have decided to disclose, then:
- (If you are an applicant) please inform your Admissions Tutor or Programme Leader
- (If you are a current student) please inform your Programme Leader
- (If you are a postgraduate research student) please inform your Supervisor
- (If you are currently on placement) please inform your Placement Tutor
- If you are unable to inform the person in the role listed above or are unsure who to contact or how to contact them, you can ask at your School Office or askUS.
Important: if you are pregnant then you are advised to contact your Programme Leader / Supervisor / Placement Tutor immediately for a risk assessment to be carried out. You can meet again to review other arrangements at a later date.
2. Initial meeting
You will then be invited to an initial meeting with your Programme Leader or Supervisor or Placement Tutor as appropriate. The purpose of this meeting is:
- To make arrangements to meet your needs during pregnancy, following birth, as a new parent, a Primary Adopter or supporting parent, and when you return to your studies, and if breastfeeding,
- To give due regard to your safety and that of your child in context of the nature and requirements of your programme of study
3. Evidence of pregnancy/adoption
You will need to bring some evidence that you are pregnant, a new parent or anticipating becoming a parent to the meeting. If you are pregnant, please bring in a copy of your Maternity Certificate (Form MAT B1) which is issued to you by your midwife or GP. If you are adopting, please bring a matching certificate or relevant official notification.
A copy of this supporting evidence will be placed with your Pregnancy, Maternity, New Parenthood & Adoption Support Plan and any Risk Assessments.
4. Completion of plans and assessments
When you meet, your Programme Leader will complete, as appropriate:
- Pregnancy, Maternity, New Parenthood & Adoption Support Plan
The purpose of this plan is to ensure that your needs are met during the pregnancy, following birth / adoption and when you return to your studies. It will detail any special arrangements required during the pregnancy and maternity or adoption process. Your plans around Maternity / Parental / Adoption Leave and return to study can be incorporated into the plan, either as part of this meeting or as you develop them.
- Pregnancy Risk Assessment
The purpose of this assessment is to identify any risks to you or your baby which may be present, or which may occur during your pregnancy, and to detail the steps that need to be put in place to alleviate or minimise these risks. This may be particularly relevant in certain Schools (e.g. where you might be exposed to harmful chemicals or radiation, or be expected to lift heavy objects or undertake other strenuous activity). Activities such as placements will need to be reviewed as part of the risk assessment, although placement providers will need to undertake their own risk assessment also.
- New Mother’s Risk Assessment
The purpose of this assessment is to ensure that you can return to your studies safely and that your needs are met, including if you are breastfeeding.
5. Sharing documents
Once these documents have been completed, your Programme Leader will request your permission to share it with your Personal Tutor. After this point your Personal Tutor will be your primary point of contact for any questions, issues or changes which may arise. If you are pregnant, your Personal Tutor will schedule meetings for you to meet in week 20 and week 30 of your pregnancy to ensure the arrangements continue to meet your needs.
6. Further meetings
If you are pregnant you are advised to schedule a meeting with your Programme Leader between 15 and 6 weeks before your expected delivery date to make arrangements for your Maternity Leave. Depending on the nature of your programme, your Programme leader will outline options relating to matters such as:
- The proposed start and end date for your Maternity Leave
- Any outstanding assessments (including those relating to placements) or reassessments you may have
- How to minimise the impact of Maternity Leave on your progression on the programme
- How you can keep yourself up to date regarding the teaching & learning on your programme
- Understanding that some things may change on your return such as being allocated to a new group or Personal Tutor
- Support and preparation for your return to study
You are also encouraged to talk to your Midwife or GP to ensure this leave is appropriate for your circumstances; especially if you are thinking of coming back after two weeks.
Additional guidance and support
Staying in touch while pregnant
When your pregnancy reaches 20 weeks, and again at 30 weeks, you should meet with your Personal Tutor. At this meeting you will review and update your ‘Pregnant Mothers Risk Assessment’ and Pregnancy, Maternity, New Parenthood and Adoption Support Plan to ensure they remain current.
During your pregnancy, if you experience issues which are related to, or which may affect, your pregnancy it will be appropriate for you to review your arrangements and risk assessment with your Personal Tutor. If you are in the last four weeks before your Expected Due Date and you have a pregnancy-related illness, it is likely that you will be asked to provide a letter from your midwife or GP confirming that you are fit to continue on your programme (if you are).
Time off for antenatal and medical appointments
Where possible you should try and arrange appointments around your classes, personal study time or days off from placement. If absence for antenatal or medical appointments impinges on your assessment submission there may be an untoward effect on your progression. The Personal Mitigating Circumstances (PMC) process is not normally appropriate for planned medical appointments.
If you suffer a miscarriage the University recognises that you may need time off for tests and to recover. You can request an Authorised Absence from your Programme Leader. If you have assessments during this period you may wish to submit a Personal Mitigating Circumstances form.
If you need some additional support at this time you can contact Wellbeing and Counselling.
Termination of pregnancy
If you decide not to continue with your pregnancy you do not have to tell the University.
After a termination, we recognise that you may need time off to recover. You can request an Authorised Absence from your Programme Leader. If you have assessments during this time, you may wish to submit a Personal Mitigating Circumstances form.
If you need some additional support at this time you can contact Wellbeing and Counselling. The charity Antenatal Results and Choices (www.arc-uk.org) provides specific advice to students considering a termination for reasons relating to antenatal test results.
You are legally required to take at least two weeks’ Maternity Leave after giving birth including if your baby is stillborn after more than 24 weeks of development. This two weeks’ leave can be recorded as ‘Authorised Absence’ so you will still have access to the University’s facilities; i.e. Blackboard, email, library facilities, so that you can keep yourself up to date with your programme requirements.
Registered students who have given birth are entitled to take up to 52 weeks’ Statutory Maternity Leave. However, you will need to take relevant advice about the implications of time out in relation to your programme because of e.g. student funding, visa and professional body regulations, and whether any financial support is available to you.
If you are taking more than two weeks’ of Maternity Leave, then you will likely need to register an interruption from your programme via the student portal. The week prior to the interruption date access the student portal and input your information. Choose the ‘maternity, parental support leave and adoption leave’ option.
Adoption leave for ‘Primary Adopters’
If you are adopting with a partner and you are both students, you will be asked to nominate which of you is the ‘Primary Adopter’ for the purposes of Adoption leave. The other partner can request Parental Support Leave upon formal adoption of your child.
Registered students who are nominated as the Primary Adopter are entitled to take up to 52 weeks’ Statutory Adoption Leave. However, you will need to take relevant advice about the implications of time out in relation to your programme because of e.g. student funding, visa and professional body regulations, and whether any financial support is available to you.
Parental support leave (for partners of pregnant people or primary adopters)
This section applies to students who will have parental responsibility for the child their partner is giving birth to or will be the ‘Primary Adopter’ for. You will need to provide evidence of this.
- If your partner is pregnant, you may want to attend their antenatal appointments. Where possible you should try and arrange appointments around your classes, personal study time or days off from placement. If absence for medical appointments impinges on your assessment submission this may affect your progression. The Personal Mitigating Circumstances (PMC) process is not normally appropriate for planned medical appointments.
- If your partner has complications with their pregnancy or a serious pregnancy-related illness then you may need to take time off. If this time is during an assessment and examinations period, you may wish to submit a Personal Mitigating Circumstances form; you will need to provide supporting evidence.
- If you are adopting with a partner, and you are both students, you will be asked to nominate which of you is the ‘Primary Adopter’ for the purposes of Adoption leave. The other partner can request Parental Support Leave upon formal adoption of your child.
You can take up to four consecutive weeks Parental Support Leave within 56 days of your partner giving birth, or if you adopt a child but are not the nominated ‘Primary Adopter’. However, you will need to take relevant advice about the implications of time out in relation to your programme because of e.g. student funding, visa and professional body regulations, and whether any financial support is available to you.
You are advised to discuss your request for Parental Support Leave with your Programme Leader at least 15 weeks prior to your partner’s expected due date / the expected adoption date.
Resuming your studies after leave
You are encouraged to contact your Programme Leader a reasonable time before you plan to return so that you can discuss your return to your programme (4 weeks is advised in the case of a longer absence).
Breastfeeding on campus
You can speak to your School Office ahead of your return to study, who will arrange a safe place for you to breastfeed your baby and to express and store milk.