The Equality Act 2010 introduced new protection from discrimination for students during pregnancy and maternity, by extending the protection that exists for women in employment to education. This includes students who:
- are existing or prospective parents (through pregnancy, paternity, adoption or surrogacy)
- decide not to proceed with a pregnancy
- have a miscarriage or still birth
It is important that you do not assume that all students will proceed with their pregnancy. Students need to be able to make choices and be provided with information without judgement or assumptions being made.
ECU’s 2010 guidance Student pregnancy and maternity: implications for higher education institutions outlines how institutions can ensure support for students in relation to pregnancy, maternity, paternity and adoption.
In 2009 the National Union of Students reported on the experiences of student parents in further and higher education. Meet the Parents: The experiences of students with children in higher education highlighted that while student parents come from a range of backgrounds, the barriers that they experience are similar:
- limited childcare funding available
- complex student support arrangements
- inaccessible teaching practices
- little or no time to take part in wider student life
The report also makes a number of recommendations on how to support student parents.
Support for individual students
Unfortunately Advance HE is unable to provide direct advice and support to individual students, although they may find our guidance for institutions useful in discussing support. External sources of support include:
- NUS has a dedicated webpage with information for student parents.
- Your institution’s student support services
- The Equality Advisory & Support Services (EASS)
- The EHRC’s advice pages