Advice to students who become pregnant during their course of study
The purpose of this document is to ensure that if you become pregnant while you are a
student at UCL you know where to seek advice about your own health, the health of
your child, the management of your course of study and any benefits and services
available to you.
It is important to obtain sound advice as soon as you know you are pregnant. Delay
can cause problems later on, particularly if you are considering a termination of the
pregnancy. If you believe you are pregnant because of missed periods or because you
have used an ‘over the counter’ pregnancy test, you should have your pregnancy
confirmed, or otherwise, by a doctor as soon as possible.
You can obtain confidential advice from the UCL Student Health Centre at Gower
Place, even if you are not registered with one of the doctors there, or you can consult
your own GP. If you prefer to go outside UCL for advice, there are a number of
agencies that you can visit, including the Marie Stopes Foundation.
Your future plans and action
If your pregnancy is to be terminated, there is no need for any staff or students at UCL
to know about this but if you are away from classes you should let your Departmental
Tutor, Programme Tutor or Supervisor know that you will be away for ‘medical
reasons’. A note from a doctor should be provided to justify your absence but this
does not have to specify the exact reason.
If your pregnancy is to continue, your doctor will arrange for you to be registered for
ante-natal care. It is very important that you let your Departmental Tutor, Programme
Tutor or Supervisor know as soon as possible. The reasons for doing this are to make
the best plans for your course of study and examinations and also to ensure any
special measures needed for your safety and the safety of your child. Remember, the
greatest risk to an unborn child from exposure to chemicals and radiations occurs in
the first 13 weeks of the pregnancy. Should you feel uneasy about telling your
Department, seek advice from the Dean of Students, one of the Advisors to Women
Students or the Rights and Advice Office of UCL Union.
Once you have informed your Department, they will complete a Risk Assessment
with you to identify any relevant risks associated with your study programme and to
manage these risks for your protection. The main risks are associated with physical
activity or exposure to some chemicals, radiation and biological agents. The
Department may consult the UCL Safety Advisory Units when completing the Risk
You will also need to plan with your Department the impact of your pregnancy on
your course of study. You are entitled to interrupt your course of study because of
pregnancy and it is important to make a plan to take account both of the academic
requirements of your study programme and your needs as a pregnant mother. You will
be expected not to attend UCL during the four weeks immediately preceding birth and
for one month after birth. Normally, the maximum period of interruption allowed is
two years. You should also arrange with your Department any absences needed for
attendance at ante-natal clinics. Students whose partners are pregnant may similarly
apply to their Departments for interruptions to cover the birth of their partner’s child
and also to make any arrangements for attendance at ante-natal clinics with their
Your student loan can continue for up to 60 days from the beginning of any
interruption of study. You will need to inform the Student Loan Company of your
circumstances. You will also need to apply for maternity benefit and information
about this can be obtained through your ante-natal clinic or from the Rights and
Advice Office at UCL Union, who will also help you with your approach to the
Student Loan Company. Graduate students in receipt of Research Council or other
awards should contact the sponsor and make arrangements for the suspension of the
award during the period of interruption.
Overseas students are unlikely to be entitled to maternity benefit and UCL
recommends that they should return home unless they have sufficient funds to remain
in the UK. Overseas students who have financial sponsors must inform the sponsors
of their circumstances and agree an appropriate plan of action. Overseas students who
return home for the birth of the child should note that most airlines will not carry
pregnant passengers after 7 months of pregnancy have elapsed. Also, overseas
students returning home should arrange for continuing ante-natal care in their home
country and take with them details of any care they have received in the UK.
If you plan to take part in field work whilst pregnant, this must be specifically
addressed in the Risk Assessment completed by the Department as there may be
special risks associated with the field work. You will not be permitted to take part in
field work after 7 months of pregnancy have elapsed.
Students who become pregnant whilst on a year abroad must contact the Study
Abroad Office at UCL to make appropriate plans to ensure that their health is
safeguarded and their academic progress is properly managed.
If you are unwell during your pregnancy you should let your Department know and
provide notes from your doctor as evidence of this.
Returning to UCL
Let your Department know when you are ready to return and plan with your Tutor or
Supervisor the optimum timetable for your re-integration into your programme of
study, including the examination schedule.
Inform the Student Loan Company or financial sponsor of your plans to return to
study once these have been agreed with your Department.
This will need advance planning. It is advisable to begin to make arrangements at the
beginning of your pregnancy. UCL operates a Day Nursery, with special rates for
students, but places are very limited. A website address is provided below for other
sources of child care.
There are no specific facilities for breast feeding at UCL but your department will
endeavour to identify an appropriate location and you should approach your personal
tutor in the first instance.
Sources of advice
Rights and Advice Office, UCL Union, first floor, Bloomsbury Theatre building.
[020 7679 4130]
Dean of Students and Advisors to Women Students, 4 Taviton Street, London WC1
[020 7679 4545]
UCL Student Health, Gower Place, London WC1
[020 7679 7057]
UCL Student Counselling Service, 3 Taviton Street, London WC1
[020 7679 1487]
UCL Day Nursery
Marie Stopes Foundation
[020 7574 7400 or www.mariestopes.org.uk].