Student distraught after university suspends her for taking baby boy

A university student claims she was left in “shock” after her institution suspended her for bringing her baby son to lectures. Leah Foster, 35, was only halfway through her psychology degree when she was handed a warning from the University of Derby. Her tutor had previously agreed to her taking her son, Emmett, into class on a short-term basis.

But the agreement was overruled, and the university suspended her for taking her baby boy onto campus. The young mum said she was “blindsided” in a meeting where she learned of the school’s decision.

She said: “I felt shocked and disbelief. It felt so unfair that I am being discriminated against because I have a baby but am trying to continue my studies.

“I understand that other people are paying to do their degree and the last thing they want is a crying baby in class.

“I would never, ever let him sit and cry or make noise or make it difficult to hear what the lecturer is saying.”

The school’s decision has sparked a backlash, with Leah Foster’s local MP calling on the university to reconsider.

Toby Perkins, MP for Chesterfield, said: “I think to say to someone like Leah ‘You have to step away for a year, we can’t accommodate you in any way’ – despite how far she has gone out of her way to make sure she wasn’t disruptive.

“I think it sends the wrong message and I am really disappointed that Derby University has taken this approach.”

The young mum, who is studying psychology and hopes to work supporting the mental health of new mothers, said she felt she had no option but to breastfeed her crying baby boy on campus.

In response, the university advised her to postpone her studies for a year, but Mrs. Foster argued that doing so would prevent her from finding employment and possibly delaying the birth of another child.

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The mum, from Chesterfield, was told that if she continued to bring her son to class, she would be expelled from the university and must put her studies on hold.

The University of Derby defended its decision, saying it would never exclude a student because they wish to continue studying while breastfeeding. However, the school rules state babies and children are not allowed into teaching sessions as they may distract other students.

The University of Derby spokesperson said: “Babies and children cannot be brought into teaching sessions due to the potential risk of disruption to other students and to protect the health and safety of the parent, child and others.”

A few weeks after taking Emmett onto campus, her tutor sent Ms Foster an email asking for a meeting with the director of student services. She expected the university would provide help to bring Emmett into class.

When she attended the meeting, she reportedly said she “felt a bit blindsided by some of the things they were saying because I was expecting to have an actual supportive chat but it wasn’t supportive whatever.

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