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Pregnancy, maternity period, adoption and fostering

We recognise that becoming pregnant or taking on caregiving responsibilities is a very exciting time in your life. It’s also important to consider how this will affect your studies and vice versa.

Here you'll find the information you need on how we can support you during this time, and also what’s expected of you.

Impact of COVID-19

The COVID-19 situation has led to many changes and adjustments for students. Keep up to date with the University’s response to COVID-19 for the latest information.

If you are concerned about your health when returning to campus, you can carry out the self risk-assessment as well as adhering to COVID-secure behaviours at all times.

For more information to ask any COVID-19 related questions, please email our team.

  • Pregnancy

Informing the University

We encourage you to inform the University of your pregnancy so that you can be best supported. You can choose to disclose your pregnancy to whichever member of staff you feel most comfortable with, however your Programme Leader will be need to be informed.

Your Programme Leader will complete a risk assessment with you to ensure that you, and your baby, are kept safe. They will also run through the support plan template with you to ensure you're aware of the support available and so an appropriate plan can be put in place regarding your studies and maternity leave.

Unplanned pregnancy

If you did not plan your pregnancy and would like to find out about your options, please read our information about sexual health and pregnancy.

  • Implications for your studies

    Depending on when your baby is due, you may need to interrupt or defer your studies. You can discuss this with your Programme Leader and advice can be sought from the Progression and Support Team, especially if you wish to make use of the Extenuating Circumstances processes.

    If you are studying with Student route (formerly tier 4) visa sponsorship, changes to your study may have visa implications. Your Programme Leader will put you in touch with the International Student Advice Team.

  • Time off for medical appointments

    You may need time off for medical appointments. This may also be the case if you are going through fertility treatment and trying to become pregnant.

    You should try to schedule any medical appointments outside of your University hours, but where this is not possible, you will give as much notice as possible to your academic tutors who will support you to remain up to date.

Your placements

If you are pregnant, you must notify your work placement provider so that they can carry out a risk assessment as required by law. You should also ensure that your Placement Administrator is notified and receives a copy of this risk assessment, along with your Programme Leader.

If your Programme Leader, Placement Administrator or you yourself have any concerns about the placement risk assessment outcomes, the University’s Health & Safety Unit may be asked to review the risk assessment (and any reasonable adjustments) to confirm they are suitable and sufficient to keep you and your baby safe.

Generally, work placements can continue during pregnancy although some reasonable adjustments may be required depending on the work activities, location, and any health conditions or disabilities which you may be experiencing.

You should check your placement or course handbooks to see if these contain further, course-specific guidance. In the majority of cases, you will be able to continue on your placement.

Maternity leave

You are required to inform your Programme Leader of the date when you plan to start your maternity leave at least 15 weeks before the baby is due, where possible. Some programmes will have specific guidance in place for return to study and processes to ensure that you, and your baby’s health, is prioritised. This may especially be the case for programmes with placement elements, and you should refer to the individual guidance for these programmes.

Maternity leave as an apprentice

If you are an apprentice, a break in learning will be recorded. Together with your employer, you should revise the date in the apprenticeship agreement on which you were expected to have completed to account for the duration of the break. The duration of the apprenticeship and the amount of off-the-job training needs to meet the 20% requirement.

How much time you can take

While the length of maternity-related absence you may prefer to take will vary, as a minimum you are required to take two weeks compulsory maternity-related absence, or four weeks if you are on placement in a factory. This is in line with employment law, and is to ensure your health and safety following birth.

Depending on factors including the nature of the study / placement, the type of birth you experience and whether lighter duties can be identified in a placement setting, you may need a longer period of maternity-related absence. If you have had a Caesarean section, it is usually recommended that you take 6 weeks off. There may also be need for an updated risk assessment.

You must inform your Programme Leader when you are ready to return to study.

International students

If you have a sponsor, you should contact them and agree a plan of action (such as deferring study / when to resume study etc.) when you become pregnant.

If you are not entitled to maternity benefits in the UK, you may prefer to return home for the duration of your maternity period and possible implications for study, visas and funding will need to be considered.

It should be noted that most airlines will not carry passengers who are 37 weeks pregnant or more, or beyond 32 weeks pregnant if pregnant with twins or more babies, so this should be taken into account when planning.

Your visa

As your Student route (formerly tier 4) visa sponsor, Middlesex University has a legal obligation to inform the Home Office of any change in Student Status if you interrupt or withdraw from study and your visa will be cancelled.

It is important that you discuss your circumstances with the International Student Advice Team. The Student Visa Compliance Team may contact you if attendance monitoring has not been informed of approved absences.

  • After birth care and support

Babies and children on campus

You may bring your baby/child onto campus but you must ensure that you sign in at Campus Reception in the Quad and complete the Children on Campus Log.

Children must also be reported to Sheppard Library if you would like to access library facilities. Children must be properly supervised at all times and will remain the direct responsibility, under the care and supervision of the parent/carer at all times

Middlesex nursery provides early years education and full day-care for children aged six weeks to five years and you can apply for a place online.

Baby change facilities

We have baby change facilities in the Grove and Hatchcroft buildings at the following locations.

Grove building: GB21, GG47, GG97, G103, G308, G404

Hatchcroft: HG08

Download a campus map

Breastfeeding on campus

We support a Mother/Birth Parent’s choice in deciding whether to breastfeed or not and are committed to securing a designated space for breastfeeding and/or expressing milk.

Breastfeeding during an exam

If you need to breastfeed during an exam, you have two options:

  1. Take the exam in a separate room with an invigilator and a friend or family member caring for the baby nearby. You can stop the clock and breastfeed when needed (supervised), up to a maximum of 1 hour total (taken in whatever format you and baby requires).

  2. We recognise that Option one might not be suitable for you or your baby and you may therefore choose to interrupt your studies for a period of time, or in exceptional circumstances, may be eligible for a deferral. You should speak to a member of the Progression and Support Team to talk through any potential impact on your academic studies.
  • Adoption and fostering

If you are adopting, fostering or if your partner is pregnant

We recognise that any kind of parental responsibility, whether biological birth, adoption or fostering, will have an impact not only on the Mother/Birth Parent but also the partner (where applicable).

The possible impact on study will be different however, if a student and their partner (if applicable) are fostering a child on a temporary basis versus giving birth to a child and/or adopting a child.

In either case, we strongly encourage the Mother/Birth Parent and their partner (if applicable) to let their academic school know about their circumstances by speaking with their Programme Leader. Partners who are Middlesex students can access many of the same University support services as the Mother/Birth Parent.

In some cases, partners may also need to access Extenuating Circumstances process to allow for their situation to be considered during examination and assessment marking processes. This may be the case where caring responsibilities or an emotional concern have impacted on academic performance.

We will also try to support those students who need time off to accompany their partners at medical, adoption or fostering appointments (although it is preferred that these are arranged outside study hours wherever possible). These appointments will be discussed with the academic department concerned.

Taking parental absence

If partners wish to take paternity-related or parental absence they should notify their Programme Leader in writing at least 15 weeks prior to their partner’s due date, fostering or adoption date.

If they are on a Student route (formerly tier 4) visa, they will need to discuss any absences with their Programme Leader and with the International Student Advice Team.

The start date and length of paternity-related or parental absence will be agreed in discussion with the student’s department. Flexibility will be shown where possible, although this will possibly be more limited in some programmes than others.

We will endeavour to accommodate and support partners in taking paternity leave (including shared parental leave and adoption leave) that is in line with the entitlements of employees under current employment law.

For example, under UK employment law, partners are entitled to up to 10 days paid Ordinary Paternity Leave and we will, wherever possible, allow partners to take the equivalent paternity support absence from their studies.

For students receiving research funding, it may be possible for a period of maternity support leave to be allowed, and students will contact their sponsor or provider prior to arranging leave.

  • Additional support

Charities, trusts and organisations

Family and Childcare Trust

National childcare campaign

Website: http://www.familyandchildcaretrust.org
Email: info@familyandchildcaretrust.org
Tel: 020 7940 7510


Provide advice, practical support and campaign for single parents

Website: www.gingerbread.org.uk
Tel: 0800 018 5026

Family Lives

National family support charity providing help and support in all aspects of family life

Website: www.familylives.org.uk
Tel: 0808 800 2222

Working Families

National charity helping working parents and carers achieve work-life balance

Website: www.workingfamilies.org.uk
Email: advice@workingfamilies.org.uk
Tel: 0300 012 01312

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