Health and welfare
With one of the most advanced healthcare systems in the world, as an international student in the UK you will be looked after.
The health and wellbeing of international students, both mental and physical, is number one priority and UK universities work hard to ensure that you are safe and supported during your studies.
The UK’s NHS (National Health Service) is one of the world’s best healthcare systems in the world, offering first-class, safe, and modern treatment and support.
If you need a visa to study in the UK, as part of your application you will pay an Immigration Health Surcharge (IHS) to gain access to the NHS. The usual fee is £624. However, there is a 25 per cent discount for student visa holders - so you should expect to pay £470 per year.
The IHS will allow you, if you need it, to consult a doctor on any physical or mental health issue, accident and emergency services, the diagnosis of any sexually transmitted diseases and access to the Covid-19 vaccine. It also offers reduced-price dental care if provided through an NHS dentist.
As you have access to the NHS in the UK, you do not need private medical insurance during your studies unless you are studying a course that lasts less than six months and therefore, you do not have a student visa.
Shortly after you arrive in the UK, we recommend that you register with a GP (general practitioner), a doctor who deals with most general health problems, so that if you do end up needing medical assistance you will be able to access it easily. Most GP surgeries accommodate patients’ requests to see a doctor of a specific gender, if it makes you feel more comfortable.
European students: if you have a European Health Insurance Card (EHIC), you may be able to apply for a refund for the cost of the Immigration Health Surcharge. Check the GOV.UK website to find out if you are eligible to do so. Also note, if you decide to do paid part-time work in the UK, this could impact your eligibility for a refund, so make sure you consider this in advance of starting your studies.
To find out more visit the NHS website.
UK universities and colleges take student welfare seriously. If you feel stressed or have any problems, the best thing to do is to share it. You can talk to:
- your tutor, especially if you have concerns about your course or exams
- the student welfare officer or, if there is one, international student officer
- someone at your students’ union, which can provide general welfare support and often has officers who can help with disability, sexuality or gender-related issues. Find out more about students' unions.
Dora, a Croatian student studying Biomedicine at the University of Huddersfield, said:
‘Ever since I arrived in the UK, I was impressed by how much wellbeing support students receive. For example, at my university we have a peer listening service (which is amazing); the opportunity to book one-to-one wellbeing appointments with an advisor or short-term counselling sessions with a professional who can help us to understand ourselves and the problems we might be experiencing better.’
For more information on welfare see Support while you study.
The UK is one of the safest countries in the world, with low crime rates and a trustworthy police force. There are strict laws on gun ownership and gun crime is very rare.
Most universities and colleges employ private security services to patrol their campuses. Your institution will usually provide you with information on staying safe on campus, and in Welcome Week many of them run specific sessions for new students on being vigilant in all areas of their lives in the UK.
More in this section
The UK is a union of four nations – England, Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales, with similarities and differences that make studying in each nation unique.
English is spoken across the UK, but it is not the only native official language. In London alone it is estimated that you can hear over 300 languages.
The UK is a multi-faith society where all religions are widely welcomed.
Enjoy the huge variety of food the UK has to offer. Here are our eight top tips for shopping, cooking and eating out while at university.
Travel and transport
Whether you’re based in the city or the countryside, you’ll be able to travel to most places in the UK quickly and see a lot during your time here.
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