1. Key guiding principles

The University of Leeds believes that being or becoming pregnant, terminating a pregnancy or having a very young child (including through adoption) should not, in itself, be a barrier to a student starting, succeeding in, or completing a programme of study at the University. The University is committed to being as flexible as possible, whilst, at the same time, making sure that any accommodations made for the student do not compromise academic standards. The special arrangements which can and should be made for a student in these circumstances will vary from Faculty to Faculty and from programme to programme. However, the general approach to be taken in these circumstances is consistent across the University – as is the legal framework in which the University operates.

This policy is based on a set of important guiding principles, namely:

  • Avoiding less favourable treatment. The University and its staff shall make sure they avoid treating a student less favourably than other students on the grounds that they are pregnant [1] or has terminated a pregnancy. Whilst particular arrangements may need to be made for an individual student (for example, a student should not return to University for two weeks after giving birth for health reasons and 4 weeks in the event that they are on a factory based work placement), the University will seek to make sure that such arrangements do not place the student at a particular disadvantage compared to other students.
  • Taking a flexible approach. The University recognises its obligations under the Equality Act 2010 and its staff will take a flexible approach to facilitating the continued learning of – and maintaining a high-quality and safe student experience for – a pregnant student, a student who is the parent of a very young child or a student whose partner is in either of these positions.
  • Demonstrating a non-judgmental and sensitive approach. When supporting and working with a student on these matters, staff must take an open-minded and non-judgmental approach. Information provided by the student should be treated sensitively and only passed on to others on a need-to-know basis (for example, in order to set up appropriate adjustments for the student).
  • Enabling informed choices. Members of staff will not attempt to direct or unduly influence a student’s decisions. Their role is to provide context and advice to the student, and to explore, in consultation with the student and others, flexibility that can be applied to the student’s programme or period of study to provide appropriate support.

[1] The Equality Act 2010 prohibits organisations, including the University, from treating a person (including a student, staff member or visitor) less favourably than others on the grounds of pregnancy or maternity. Discrimination on the grounds that a student is pregnant or breastfeeding can constitute unlawful discrimination. The University also has a statutory duty to promote equality of opportunity for those with a protected characteristic. These guidelines have been drafted with these legal obligations in mind a student is pregnant or breastfeeding can constitute unlawful discrimination. The University also has a statutory duty to promote equality of opportunity for those with a protected characteristic. These guidelines have been drafted with these legal obligations in mind.