Whether you already have a child or are about to become a parent, a wealth of services are available to support you in Oxford - from the University and Oxford University Student Union to the County Council.
University parental leave policy
To support students seeking to take parental leave, the University’s Student Maternity, Paternity and Adoption Leave Policy [pdf] provides details of the arrangements for students who are about to have or adopt a child. The policy outlines how much leave students are entitled to, access to University facilities, graduate accommodation and childcare services and the provision for a flexible return to full-time study.
Graduate research students should note the requirements for applying for maternity leave, including the forms required and timings, for notifying their college, supervisor and director of graduate study.
Oxford University Student Union
The Oxford University Student Union (OUSU) provides a number of resources for student parents, such as a comprehensive Student Parent Handbook with information about childcare throughout the University, colleges, city and holiday play schemes, as well as information about childcare for children with disabilities and funding for student parents.
OUSU has a mailing list that disseminates information about family-friendly events, funding opportunities and wanted items for parents. There are also OUSU student parent socials where parents and children can come, have tea and biscuits, and meet other student parents. Contact OUSU Parents and Carers for information.
Colleges and the central University can help students with childcare needs through a comprehensive range of childcare services, including nurseries, play schemes and help with the cost of childcare.
The Childcare Services website provides information to students about all aspects of childcare to enable parents to make informed decisions that best suits their needs.
Oxfordshire County Council
Oxfordshire County Council provides information for parents on childcare provision in Oxford including day nurseries, childminders, schools and after-school childcare provision. Telephone 08452 262636.
Frequently asked questions
What is the impact of maternity leave on my student visa?
If you suspend your studies the Home Office expects you to return to your home country and your visa would be cancelled. You would then need to obtain a new visa before coming back to resume your studies. If you are going to suspend for a short period, are unable to return home, or have any further questions please contact Tier4compliance@admin.ox.ac.uk for advice.
How will maternity leave affect my funding?
Undergraduate students can apply for remission of any additional year’s University fees which will be considered by the Fees Panel on a case-by-case basis. You should contact your funding body for advice about funding matters during maternity leave, including the potential for additional loans.
Graduate students should obtain approval from their funding body for any period of leave. Where permission has been granted you will be charged fees at the part-time rate. This is particularly relevant in the case of one-year master’s courses, where fee liability extends for six terms.
The University provides a limited period of funded maternity leave for holders of all studentships funded or co-funded by the University; currently this provision is available to all holders of Clarendon Awards and of studentships funded under the Oxford Graduate Scholarships Matched Fund and you can contact your funding provider for more information.
What will happen if I am on a one year taught graduate course and wish to take maternity leave?
It is not feasible to study the majority of postgraduate taught courses on a part-time basis. If you return to study after the birth of a child and encounter difficulties, your faculty or department should consider what alternative measures of support they might agree to help you eg. agreed extensions to submission deadlines.
However, in some cases the faculty or department may consider that it would be feasible for you to complete the outstanding elements of a taught course – such as the dissertation – on a part-time basis. If your college endorses this proposal, they may make an application to Education Committee on your behalf to request dispensation from the relevant examination regulations. Dispensation from the regulations to transfer from full-time to part-time status for the limited period involved will be considered provided your faculty or department supports the request and can demonstrate that your educational and pastoral needs will be met appropriately.
Tier 4 visa holders cannot study part-time so you must seek further advice from Tier4compliance@admin.ox.ac.uk before considering this proposal.
Can I suspend after maternity leave?
Graduate research students who give birth during their period of registration for the degree are automatically entitled to suspend their studies for up to three terms (one year) of maternity leave. This period of leave is considered separately from the six terms of suspension that your faculty or departmental board may allow, and no special application to Education Committee is required.
The terms of maternity leave must be taken consecutively and any unused terms may not be taken at a later date. If you have been granted six terms’ suspension of study by the department board and you have taken additional maternity leave you are not be prohibited from seeking dispensation from Education Committee for further suspension of study. Such requests will be considered on their individual merits.
Undergraduate and graduate taught students who give birth during their course may choose to suspend their status, normally for no less than one year, before recommencing their studies. Where possible your leave period should be timed to take account of the academic requirements of the course (eg project work), and should commence at the end of, rather than partway through, a term. Maternity leave can be taken under current college arrangements for suspension of study. Graduate students should also submit an application for suspension of status.
Suspensions of study are recorded as commencing at the start of the relevant term and concluding at the end of the subsequent vacation. As far as possible, you should try to align your maternity leave with the tripartite structure of university terms. If you are obliged to suspend mid-term (eg for medical reasons), the date of suspension will usually be backdated to the start of term. A short period of exceptional suspension may be considered (as a dispensation from the regulations relating to suspension of study) where the expected date of childbirth falls during the Long Vacation and there are concerns about the impact on your submission date. This might be the case where you wish to take a short period of maternity leave over the summer then return to study in Michaelmas term.
If you hold a Research Council or other sponsoring body award you should align the period of University and funding body leave. Where there is a conflict of interest between the two policies, the sponsoring body’s policy will be followed in relation to the area(s) of conflict.
Can I extend the period of time away due to ill health?
If ill-health prevents you from returning to studies after completing your maximum period of maternity leave, this should be treated as sickness absence and notified accordingly ie to the funding body. You may be required to extend their period of suspension. If you are unable to resume your studies because your child is unwell you should seek further suspension of study, if necessary by application to the Education Committee.
What are the arrangements for paternity leave?
Student fathers/partners are permitted to take two weeks’ (10 working days) leave either at the time or within three months of the birth. This will not entail dispensation to miss examinations. You will also be eligible for a longer period of suspension, in line with the arrangements made for student mothers. This will normally last one full year so that you may recommence your studies at the same point at which you suspend. The possibility of additional fee liability should be taken into account.
How is adoption leave calculated?
The arrangements for adoption leave are parallel to those made for maternity and paternity leave, in that the main carer takes ‘maternity leave’, regardless of gender, and the carer’s partner takes ‘paternity’ leave.