Student Pregnancy, Maternity, Paternity and Adoption Policy

Policy Statement

The University aims to provide an environment where students are supported and treated fairly and with dignity and respect, including during pregnancy, maternity, paternity, the process of adoption and while breastfeeding. The University of York believes that becoming pregnant or having a young child should not, in itself, be a barrier to study and aims to balance flexibility with provision of consistent, non-judgemental, accurate and high quality information, guidance and support.

This policy was approved by the University of York Equality, Diversity and Inclusion Committee in 2014.

Scope of the Policy

This policy covers any applicant who is pregnant, registered students who become pregnant during their studies and registered students whose partners are pregnant. In addition any registered student who becomes a parent, for example, through adoption is also covered by this policy.


The Equality Act 2010 introduced a new protection from discrimination for students during pregnancy and maternity. From 1 October 2010, a student who is pregnant, or has given birth within the last 26 weeks, is now explicitly protected from unfavourable treatment.

The policy has been developed by the Equality and Diversity Office using the Equality Challenge Unit guidance; “Student pregnancy and maternity: implications for higher education institutions” and reviewing similar policies at other Higher Education Institutions. A working group that included members of staff in academic and support departments and students was convened to oversee the development of the policy.


If any student is not satisfied with their treatment under this policy they should raise it in the first instance, with their department and also read the Procedure for dealing with complaints from students and student applicants.

Disclosing a pregnancy

Following a consultation with their General Practitioner (GP) and/or other appropriate services, applicants and students are encouraged to notify the University about their pregnancy through their Academic Supervisor or other member of departmental staff. If a student is uneasy about discussing their pregnancy with the department, they could seek advice and support from; the Student Advisers in the Student Hub, University of York Students’ Union or the Graduate Student Association.

It is important that the University is notified about a pregnancy if there are elements of the programme that may present a risk to the health and safety of the student and/or the child.  

If a student decides not to notify the University about their pregnancy it will not be possible to put special arrangements in place for health related absences, examinations, leave of absence, risk assessments, reasonable adjustments, return to study or adaptations to clinical practice uniforms.

If an overseas student requires a Student Visa to remain in the UK during their period of study, UKVI regulations must be taken into consideration. Students should contact the Immigration Advisers at the Student Hub for advice about visa regulations.

When a student has disclosed a pregnancy, it is recommended that they meet with their academic supervisor/member of staff in the department and start completing a copy of the Pregnancy and Maternity Support Plan and if necessary the risk assessment form.  The support plan should be held in the department on a Google Drive and also shared with the student.  

Maternity Leave

University policy, in line with Equality Challenge Unit guidance is to recommend that students take a minimum of two weeks maternity leave after the birth subject to medical advice/individual medical circumstances. (See page 11 of the ECU Guidance - Student Pregnancy and Maternity: implications for higher education institutions).

Paternity Leave

University policy, in line with Equality Challenge Unit guidance is to allow students to take paternity-related absence. (Definition of paternity follows the University's Policy on Paternity Leave for staff).

Any student whose partner is pregnant or has been matched for adoption should discuss absences related to medical appointments, the birth of a child or meetings related to adoption with their Academic Supervisor.


Students who have been matched for adoption should discuss arrangement for Adoption Leave with their Academic Supervisor.

Student Pregnancy and Maternity Support Plan

The Support Plan aims to guide discussions with students during pregnancy and maternity. It should be completed and agreed by the Academic Supervisor or other member of departmental staff and the student.

Resolving disagreements between students and departments

If a disagreement arises between a student or partner and their department on how the pregnancy, maternity, paternity or adoption leave should be managed, the Academic Registrar may be asked to make the final decision. A student or partner is entitled to take a representative, for example, the YUSU Academic and Welfare Co-ordinator, to meetings with their department.

Created by the Equality and Diversity Office 2014 and reviewed in 2021.


Contact us

Equality and Diversity Office
+44 (0)1904 324680

Contact us

Equality and Diversity Office
+44 (0)1904 324680