Childbirth Accommodation Policy for Students

The OIST Graduate University promotes diversity and supports balance in work and family life. The University recognizes the need to accommodate the demands on students associated with pregnancy and childbirth, and the care of a newborn child. The policy also recognizes the demands on partners who take significant responsibility in parenting, and supports those who become a parent by adopting, fostering, and delivery by surrogacy. This Childbirth Accommodation Policy for Students comprises a set of financial and academic measures designed to accommodate these needs, supporting family life during graduate studies.

The Childbirth Accommodation Policy establishes minimum standards for accommodation needed for a graduate student who becomes a parent of a newborn child. Careful consultation should be undertaken to ensure that the implications for academic progress, financial support, and visa status of international students have been thoroughly investigated. It is expected that faculty and the Graduate School administration will work with sensitivity and imagination to provide more than this minimum, to accommodate new family needs. It is the intention of this policy to reinforce the importance of that cooperation, and to provide support where needed to make that accommodation possible.

1 Eligibility 

i) A full-time, registered OIST PhD student who is going to give birth or has recently given birth (“birth parent”)

ii) A full-time, registered OIST PhD student with significant responsibility for the care of the newborn child; for example, the partner of the person giving birth; father of the newborn; or those who become a parent by adopting, fostering, or delivery by surrogacy (“non-birth parents”)

2 Summary of Childbirth Accommodation (incorporating Childbirth Leave)

The Childbirth Accommodation Policy comprises a set of financial and academic measures, as follows. They are designed to make it possible for a parent of a newborn to maintain a full-time, registered student status before and after childbirth, facilitate their return to full participation in class work and research in a seamless manner, and to ensure student parents are not disadvantaged in regard to graduation. 

i) Academic accommodation of up to eight (8) consecutive months, known as the Childbirth Accommodation Period (CAP), around the time of the birth during which the student may request postponement of course assignments, examinations, and adjust other academic requirements;

ii) Continuation of full-time registration as a graduate student during CAP;

iii) Full financial support through CAP;

iv) Up to six (6) months of extension of enrollment and financial support;

v) Childbirth leave from regular duties during CAP, such as those stated in the research assistantship agreement, as follows;

Childbirth leave for birth parents

Prenatal leave: 6 weeks (14 weeks for multiple pregnancies) before the expected delivery date on request of a birth parent. When the actual delivery is after the expected delivery date, the additional days are included as part of prenatal leave.

Postpartum leave: 8 weeks after giving birth. In this period, the University can not require birth parents to be engaged in their coursework and research. However, on their request, birth parents may return to their study 6 weeks after childbirth if approved by a doctor.

Childbirth leave for non-birth parents Up to 8 consecutive weeks of leave around the childbirth 


3 Residency Requirements during the Childbirth Accommodation Period

It is expected that students will be in residence in Okinawa and, assuming good health of the new parent and the infant, will remain engaged in class work and research, even if at a reduced level.

A student may choose to take leave from the academic program for a period of time. In such a case, a period of non-study leave may be granted in accordance with the non-study leave regulations.


4 Planning and Application for the Childbirth Accommodation Period

It is students’ responsibility to make arrangements with faculty and with Graduate School administrators for course completion and for continuation of educational, research and professional development activities toward graduation. Faculty members may not discontinue thesis supervision on the basis of a student’s decision to have a child.

i) Planning
Students should initiate discussions with their mentor, thesis committee, lab rotation supervisor(s), course instructor(s), the PCD coordinator, and the Graduate School at least four (4) months prior to the expected childbirth.

ii) Application
The student should apply to the Graduate School for Childbirth Accommodation Period at least four (4) months prior to the expected childbirth. The application must include a graduation plan endorsed by the mentor or the thesis committee.
iii) Acknowledgement  
The Graduate School will notify the student, the student’s academic mentor, and relevant University administration that the Childbirth Accommodation Period has been approved, along with the dates for the accommodation period. If childbirth occurs prior to filing the application, the accommodation period begins on the birth date.

iv) Further considerations

  • Extension of enrolment and financial support
    ​Students may request an extension of enrolment and financial support for up to 6 months per childbirth accommodation period taken during the OIST PhD program.
  • Access to the Child Development Center
    ​Students are strongly advised to register, at the earliest possible time, for the waiting list of the Child Development Center for access to on-campus nursery care and early childhood education.
  • Considerations for birth parents
    ​Birth parents whose research involves working with toxic chemicals or fieldwork may need accommodation during the entire pregnancy and during lactation. They are strongly advised to consult with a doctor and discuss research plans with faculty if they need to refrain from using certain chemicals or engaging in fieldwork.
  • Medical conditions during pregnancy and after childbirth
    If medical issues arise in association with pregnancy or childbirth, students must inform the Graduate School with a doctor’s recommendation on accommodation suitable for the student’s condition(s). The Graduate School shall discuss and facilitate reasonable accommodation for the student in consideration of the individual circumstances.


5 During and after the Childbirth Accommodation Period

i) Coursework and Research Activities during CAP

Any academic milestones affected by the above may be shifted through the submission of a formal extension request.

Students are expected to keep lines of communication open and demonstrate to their supervisor and instructors that they are academically engaged.  

ii) Funding during CAP

The full amount of financial support is provided during CAP.

Students who are supported by external fellowships must adhere to the rules of the granting agency with respect to absences from study and research. If the granting agency requires suspension of fellowship benefits, the student will be eligible for substitute payment from OIST.

iii) Coursework and Research Activities after CAP

The student, academic mentor, and thesis supervisor (if applicable) should recognize that it may not be feasible to return to a regular research assistant assignment immediately after the accommodation period. In these cases, arrangements should be made to assign limited on-site duties. Issues should be negotiated sensitively with the student’s needs in mind. Students should work with the academic mentor, thesis supervisor, and the Graduate School to make arrangements for ongoing support beyond the accommodation period if unable to return immediately to normal duties.



Supplementary Provisions

This Childbirth Accommodation Policy for Students shall come into force from September 1, 2020.

Supplementary Provisions

This revised Childbirth Accommodation Policy for Students shall come into force from May 1, 2021.