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Getting advice if you are pregnant or adopting while studying

How we can advise and support you if you or your partner is expecting a baby or adopting.

Discovering you or your partner is pregnant may have left you feeling a mix of emotions, you may be excited but also overwhelmed about the changes to come. You may have planned this parenthood, or the new situation may be unexpected, either way this will be a time of many changes, and you will need to consider what will work for you and how you may continue your studies under these circumstances.

The University is committed to ensuring that becoming pregnant or having a very young child should not be a barrier to applying for, starting, and succeeding in a programme of study here. University staff will help you understand any implications for continuing your studies and take reasonable actions to support you. Our approach is informed by the Equality Act (2010) and by the guidelines produced by the Equality Challenge Unit. We are here to support you no matter what decision you make.

We strongly advise you to disclose if you’re pregnant to your academic department in order that they can facilitate the support and planning process, to enable you to manage the pregnancy and maternity alongside your studies, and to ensure consideration is given to matters of health and safety. It is your right to keep the pregnancy private if you so wish.

The exception to the right to non-disclosure applies to programmes of study/research with higher health & safety risks such as using hazardous materials or harmful substances/chemicals (e.g. Chemistry), or as part of professionally accredited programmes. In these cases, there can be a legal requirement upon the student to disclose in line with the Health & Safety Executive.

If you are already a parent/guardian, you can find useful information here: Student Parents

Initial support

You should talk to your doctor or GP about your pregnancy. You can also get professional advice and support from:

  • Student Support

  • Students' Union Advice

  • External organisations like Brook Advisory Centres or the Family Planning Association

We recommend informing your Director of Studies or Doctoral Supervisor as soon as practically possible, even if you are still considering your options. It is advisable that you inform the University as early as possible, even in the first 12 weeks, so that a risk assessment can be carried out to mitigate any environmental risks. If you are unsure whether you are going to proceed with the pregnancy, it is still beneficial to carry out a risk assessment, for your own health and safety.

Student Support can confidentially advise you about discussing your pregnancy with your department. Similar to our support for pregnant students, if you (or you and your partner) are matched for adoption, you are encouraged to notify your Director of Studies or Supervisor as early as possible.

Getting support from your department

It is important to talk to your department about the support available. Once you inform your Director of Studies or Lead Supervisor of your pregnancy, they should offer you an initial meeting within five days. They will complete a health and safety risk assessment with you and may start to discuss your options for continuing your course and how the University can support you (if you feel ready to do this). When you are ready, you should complete a support plan with your department which will enable you to discuss possible adjustments while still at university. Additional support can include:

  • a Health and Safety risk assessment
  • informing other staff or students, according to your wishes
  • adjustment to laboratory or class attendance
  • adjustment to placement/fieldwork/SYA arrangements
  • reasonable allowance for antenatal/adoption appointments
  • assessment adjustments, IMCs, extensions, or suspension of studies (taught students)
  • period of absence if required (doctoral students)
  • funding/accommodation/visa advice
  • return to study arrangements
  • childcare information

If you are a doctoral student there is a University policy for maternity, paternity and adoption leave giving more information on parental leave and its impact on stipends/funding.

Once you have agreed with your department on how to continue your studies, this will be included in the support plan. This will include specific, agreed adjustments, which your department will only communicate to relevant staff and boards (e.g. IMC panels) where necessary.

Regular review

You should regularly meet with your departmental contact to review the support plan and adjustments and make any required changes to arrangements. They may also need to update the risk assessment at key points, e.g., due to health changes during pregnancy, or once you have returned.
Request further meetings with the School or Department members if needed throughout the pregnancy or adoption process.

Suspending your studies

If altering the study conditions is not reasonably possible, or would not avoid any identified risks, you may wish to suspend your studies. Additional guidance is available:

The University will make every effort to ensure you are able to complete your programme of study. Ensure you contact your department ahead of your planned Return to Study to review the support plan and any changes to adjustments that could be required.

Options if you are unsure about continuing with the pregnancy

I'm unsure about continuing with the pregnancy, who can I seek advice from?

Whilst only students themselves can make the decision as to whether or not to continue with their pregnancy, a range of services across the University and Students’ Union can assist by providing confidential support and information about the options available, and, in some cases, other practical assistance. These services include:

  • Student Support
  • Students' Union Advice

Students also have access to external organisations for information, advice or support. These include their GP, Brook Advisory Centres, and the Family Planning Association.

What support is available if I have an abortion/termination?

You are not under any obligation to inform the University if you choose not to continue the pregnancy. It is important for you to access appropriate support during this time, if needed. Student Support can provide information, advice and guidance and signpost students to external support services. Student Support also offer free therapeutic services to students. External support organisations include:

Support to study

I’m away from Bath on placement, study year abroad, or undertaking research. Who should I contact?

We strongly recommend you let your placement provider/study abroad institution know, as well as your academic department in Bath. In some circumstances this might be required by Health & Safety legislation due to the nature of the placement, e.g. contact with hazardous materials. The HR department at your placement can advise you further. Letting them know will enable them to ensure a risk assessment is undertaken and discuss support options with you. Depending on your circumstances, you may need to discuss your options and whether you can continue on the placement/SYA.

I need to attend appointments (e.g., antenatal or pre-adoption) which means missing parts of my course. What should I do?

If you are pregnant or if you need to attend pre-adoption appointments, you are entitled to reasonable time off to attend appointments. Wherever possible, appointments should be arranged outside of teaching or at the start or the end of the placement working day. We appreciate that this may not always be possible. If your course is accredited by professional, statutory or regulatory bodies you should discuss the implications of missed time in practice with your Director of Studies/ Personal Tutor / Supervisor to ensure this does not have a negative impact on your studies.

My partner is pregnant or adopting. Am I entitled to any support or adjustments?

We will also support you if your partner is expecting a child or adopting. You are encouraged to notify your Director of Studies/ Doctoral Supervisor as early as you can. Where possible, they will work to:

  • Allow you to attend antenatal or pre-adoption appointments with your partner

  • Support you if your partner develops any complications with their pregnancy or if your partner has a maternity-related illness

  • If your assessments or exams are impacted by the adoption date or your partner’s due date or complications associated with the pregnancy, you may wish to consider making an application for a coursework extensionor Individual Mitigating Circumstances.

If your course is accredited by professional, statutory or regulatory bodies you should discuss the implications of missed time in practice with your Director of Studies / Supervisor to ensure this does not have a negative impact on your studies.

What can I do if my assessments or exams are impacted by pregnancy or parental/adoption leave?

If your assessments or exams are impacted by ill-health or complications associated with your pregnancy, or parental/adoption leave, you may wish to consider making an application for a coursework extensionor Individual Mitigating Circumstances.

Support with family life

I am an international student on a visa. What should I do?

If you are studying at Bath on a visa, you should arrange an appointment with a Student Immigration Adviser to discuss how changes in your studies may affect your visa. If you start a family while you are studying in the UK, you may need to get further advice about your child’s visa requirements: UKCISA - international student advice and guidance - Dependants

How will having a baby affect my student funding? Am I entitled to any additional support from the government?

You should meet with a Student Money Adviser to talk about the financial implications of becoming a parent. They can help you work out if you are entitled to any additional financial support or funding.

Is there childcare available at the University campus or locally?

It is important to start planning childcare as early as possible. Westwood Nursery is on campus and has places for children aged between six months and school age. However, please be aware that demand for places is typically very high and there will be a waiting list. You may wish to explore alternative childcare options in the area. You could also look at the and Childcare UK websites for information on finding childcare.

Can I breastfeed/express milk on the University campus?

The University campus is baby-feeding friendly and there are no restrictions on bottle or breastfeeding at the University except in the laboratories.

We also recognise that sometimes parents may prefer a quieter space to feed and express. Discuss any possible quiet or private spaces you could use with your department.

If you require time out of your course or placement to breastfeed or express milk, please discuss and amend your support plan with your Director of Studies/Supervisor.

It is important to note that exposure to harmful substances, e.g. chemical and biological agents, can cause harm to new mothers and can also be passed on to the child during breastfeeding. If you think this might apply to your course or research (e.g. Chemistry) then discuss with your Director of Studies/Supervisor before returning.

Can I bring my baby to the University campus and into lectures/seminars?

Yes, babies and young children can come on to university premises as long as they are supervised at all times and any health and safety risks identified can be resolved and – provided their presence does not disrupt other students’ learning – into seminars and lectures. Babies and young children are not permitted in certain areas, e.g., laboratories, where risks cannot be mitigated.

The University encourages student parents to arrange childcare while they are attending teaching or research activities on campus. However, we recognise that students who may be breastfeeding, or have last-minute childcare issues, may need to bring their baby or young child with them. Discuss this with your department contact and amend your support plan with the agreed approach.

Bereavement and other difficulties

What support is available if I lose my baby?

In the unfortunate event that you lose your baby during pregnancy, birth or shortly after (whether through miscarriage, stillbirth, neonatal death, or termination for medical reasons), it is important for you and your partner to access appropriate support during this difficult time. You can contact Student Support who can help establish what support is available to you both within and outside of the University. External support organisations include:

What can I do if I am bullied, harassed, or discriminated against due to my pregnancy?

The University is committed to creating a culture where everyone can study, live and work free from any form of harassment. All students can report discrimination, misconduct, harassment or bullying by using the Support & Report tool. You can report anonymously or get support from an adviser: Support and Report If you have experienced harassment, bullying or hate crime there is support available, both within the University and externally. You can have control over the type of support you receive, and we will never pressure someone to make a formal report.

What can I do if I do not agree with the options/support my department and the University offers?

The Students’ Union Advice team can provide independent advice and support you in discussing this with your department. If these issues cannot be resolved, you can make a complaint: Student Complaints Policy and Procedure

Student Pregnancy and Maternity Support Form

Complete a Student Pregnancy and Maternity Support Form

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