This article covers the different issues which may be on your mind if you find yourself pregnant while you’re studying.
Early options and medical support
Whether starting a family was planned or unplanned, you may find you feel confused or anxious about your situation. It is very important that you seek medical advice as soon as possible to discuss your options and seek maternity health care. Any contact with healthcare professionals will be strictly confidential.
If you are registered with the King’s NHS Health Centre you can arrange to see a doctor there, otherwise you can attend your local GP surgery or visit an NHS walk-in centre.
If you wish to discuss your situation, you may also consider contacting the Counselling & Mental Health Support Service.
If you are pregnant and concerned about access to support during the coronavirus pandemic and lockdown, you may wish to find out more about various healthcare support on offer in London and online; you may find our information on Pregnancy & women’s health helpful.
Contacting your department and taking time out from study
If you are comfortable doing so, you should contact your department as soon as possible to discuss your options. This will allow you to make plans for future study and to ensure any special measures are taken to safeguard your welfare.
Whatever choice you make regarding your pregnancy, you are likely to require some time out of your studies. This should be discussed with your department in the first instance to look at how best to work this around your programme but you should also seek advice from the Advice & Guidance Team as an interruption may impact your finances, housing and for students on Tier 4 visas, your immigration status. For more information on interrupting please read our article How can I take a break from my course?
Immigration issues: studying on a visa
Becoming pregnant is not a breach of your Student or Tier 4 Visa but as an international student becoming pregnant and taking time out of your studies can affect your immigration status.
We therefore strongly recommend that you make an appointment with the Advice & Guidance Team as soon as possible to discuss your options.
You will probably need to take time out of your studies in order to have your baby. The university will need to record this absence and may need to report it to the UK Border Agency resulting in your visa being curtailed. You would not be in any trouble because of this, but you would need to leave the UK. You would need to apply for a new visa when you are ready to come back and resume your studies.
Important to know: It is important that you plan ahead when preparing to leave the UK, as some airlines will not allow you to fly towards the end of your pregnancy.
If you have your baby in the UK
If you do have your baby in the UK, it will not be deemed to be a British Citizen (unless one parent is British or has settled status in the UK). The baby will have the same nationality as its parents and you should check with your embassy what you need to do to register the baby’s birth.
You are not required by law to obtain a visa for your baby as your baby can remain in the UK with you as your dependant. However, if you choose to leave the UK and wish to return, you will need to obtain a dependant’s visa for your baby. You can obtain this from your home country or apply before you leave the UK.
Bringing your dependents back to the UK
If you want to bring your baby back to the UK, you will need to apply for a visa so that s/he can come in as your dependant. There are strict rules surrounding who can bring dependants, so we recommend you read UKCISA's guide for families carefully. The UKVI is very strict about who can bring dependants to the UK.
Important to know: In order to bring dependant children to the UK, both parents need to be resident here, except in exceptional circumstances.
You may also find our information on living with dependents alongside studies useful.
We understand that pregnancy can be stressful. If there are any practical issues you would like to discuss, then you can make an appointment to chat to an adviser.
Funding for UK and EU students
For students in receipt of maintenance loans and grants through Student Finance England or regional funder - it is important that you contact them and notify them of your change in circumstances. Your student loan can continue for up to 60 days from the beginning of an interruption of study.
PhD students who are in receipt of scholarships should contact the relevant funder as your award may be suspended during the time you are interrupted.
For more detail about the impact on funding during an interruption, please read the relevant article:
- Interrupting as an undergraduate: what will happen with my fees and funding?
- Interrupting as a postgraduate: what will happen with my fees and funding?
Once the baby has been born, you may be eligible for some financial help through benefits or the university if you are struggling financially.
Depending on your circumstances, as a student with dependants you may be able to claim:
- Welfare benefits
- Child Benefit (some income restrictions apply)
- Universal Credit; this can include help with housing costs and allowances for dependants
- Student funding
- Dependants Grant
- Parent Learning Allowance
- Childcare Grant
- NHS Learning Support Fund; has additional elements for student parents on NHS-funded courses
Check with your funding body for more details of what you can claim when are on a break and what you can apply for when you return to the course.
If you are a student from the EEA, you will need to meet certain residency tests to claim benefits in the UK. These can be very complicated, so we recommend that you arrange an appointment to contact the Advice & Guidance team to check your eligibility if you have any questions.
Important to know: If you are an international student living in the UK, you are not usually permitted to claim welfare benefits. However, there may be some options if you have been working. If you would like to find out more or you are experiencing financial difficulties as a result of having your child/children, contact the Advice & Guidance team.
For some students becoming pregnant may have an impact on their studies and this may need to be addressed in the form of a risk assessment competed by your faculty.
This is likely to affect you if you are PhD student who intends to undertake fieldwork as part of your research, and/or if you are on a health-related course. You should also take into consideration travel with regards to research fieldwork and check with your doctor/midwife if you are required to travel long distances or take flights as part of your studies.
If you are or planning to be on campus during your pregnancy, please also read our article Coronavirus & individual student risk assessments.