Health and the NHS

Health and the NHS

The National Health Service (NHS) is the publicly funded healthcare system for England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland.

The Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office pays the Immigration Health Surcharge on your behalf as part of your Student visa application and this allows you to access the National Health Service in the UK for free. The NHS provides emergency treatment to all.

Not all treatments are free of charge, for instance you will have to pay for some dental and optical treatment, plus prescription charges if you live in England (currently £9.15 per item). We don’t provide any additional funds for this and you’re expected to use your monthly stipend to cover these costs.

If you live in England check the NHS website: www.nhs.uk for further information.

NHS regulations vary slightly in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland so you should check the relevant website depending on where you live:

One of the first things you should do at your place of study is to register with a doctor, known as a General Practitioner (GP). Please do not wait until you are ill to register. Ensure you choose an NHS doctor. At many universities there is a student health service on campus. You may need to show proof of your student status and address, along with your Immigration Health Surcharge number. Your immigration health surcharge number would have been sent to you by email when you made your Tier 4/Student visa application.

The NHS runs a 24-hour non-emergency helpline that you can call for free on 111 if you have questions or concerns about your health.

You can also go into any pharmacy in the UK for advice about common ailments such as coughs and colds, and you can read more here.

There’s more information about health and healthcare in the UK on the UKCISA website.

We recommend that all scholars purchase their own insurance (which includes medical insurance) to cover their time in the UK even if you can access the NHS free of charge. Waiting lists for NHS treatment can be quite long and if you have insurance that allows you access to private medical care, you may be able to get treatment more quickly.


Covid 19 vaccination advice

NHS England published an FAQ document for students in England about the COVID 19 – vaccine. Please note that this is only applicable to students living in England. The devolved administrations in Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland are managing the role out of the vaccine in those areas. Further guidance can be found on their respective government health websites:

The NHS England document has an extract which is applicable to international students and can be found below:

International students FAQs

Are international students eligible for the vaccination?

Anybody aged 18 or over in the UK is eligible for the COVID-19 vaccination for free, regardless of their nationality or immigration status.

Do international students need to pay for the vaccine?

Nobody in England has to pay for the COVID-19 vaccination. The COVID-19 vaccination is free of charge and does not count as the kind of care that requires payment. International students or anyone seeing requests for payment should report this activity to their university institution and to Action Fraud. More information on COVID-19 vaccine scams is on the Action Fraud website here.

Do international students need to be registered with a GP to get a vaccination?

While registration with a GP is encouraged to access the vaccine, individuals can request to book COVID-19 vaccination appointments as an unregistered patient through a local GP practice.

How does an international student get an NHS number?

International students can approach their local GP practice, saying they would like to register for the purposes of receiving the vaccine.

Are any dependents of international students also eligible for the COVID-19 vaccination?

Anyone in England is eligible for the vaccine if they fall within the current eligibility criteria set out by the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation and should come forward once it is their turn.

How does an international student get a vaccine?

International students should be encouraged to register with a GP and get an NHS number. An NHS number can be found on any letter the NHS has sent you, on a prescription, or by logging in to a GP practice online service. You can also find an NHS number using this tool. It is possible to request to book COVID-19 vaccination appointments as an unregistered patient by approaching a local GP practice. While registration with a GP is encouraged to access the vaccine, individuals can request to book COVID-19 vaccination appointments as an unregistered patient through a local GP practice. Students can be directed to find out more about GP registration on the NHS website.

If an international student is not registered with a GP, will they still be invited for their vaccination?

Students who are not registered with a GP will not be proactively contacted by a local NHS service. We encourage all students to register with a GP on the NHS website and they can be directed to for more information. However, international students can book their vaccination appointments via the National Booking Service with their NHS number if they have previously received NHS treatment. You can also find an NHS number using this tool.

What should an international student do if they’ve received their first dose of a COVID-19 vaccination abroad, and it is not a vaccine that is being offered in England?

If a person has received a first dose of COVID-19 vaccine overseas that is also available in the UK, they should receive the same vaccine for their second dose. If the vaccine they received for their first dose is not available in the UK, the most similar alternative should be offered as per the advice here (see sections on vaccine interchangeability guidance). The student should contact a GP to ensure they receive an appropriate vaccine for their second dose.

Where can students find more information?

Students should be directed to NHS Covid vaccination website for more information about the Covid-19 vaccine. Students should be directed to www.gov.uk for information on COVID restrictions.