Skip to main content

Watch our video to find out about the Education Welfare team (Exeter).

Find out about the Education Welfare team (Cornwall).




Most healthcare in the UK is provided by the National Health Service (NHS). This service provides emergency, routine and occasional medical treatment to people within the UK. All medical treatment within the UK will be treated in the strictest medical confidence and will not be told to anyone without your consent.

In an emergency, telephone 999 for free from any UK telephone or mobile, and ask for the ambulance service. If you are unsure, call 111 and they will be able to advise you.

UKCISA will provide the most up to date information on healthcare and a detailed description of how the UK National Health Service works. If the doctor accepts you as a patient you will be sent a medical card through the post with your NHS number. However, being registered with a GP (doctor), and having an NHS number does not give you automatic entitlement to free hospital treatment. The hospital providing treatment is responsible for establishing whether international students are entitled to free hospital treatment.

You can also see our handy 'Accessing Healthcare and the NHS' presentation.

  • All Covid-19 related testing, treatment and vaccine is free.
  • All emergency treatment in a hospital Accident & Emergency (A&E) department, regardless of immigration status, is free. This includes emergency treatment for serious illness or injury, but does not include emergency services provided after being admitted as an inpatient, or follow-up outpatient appointments (unless covered by one of the below).
  • All primary healthcare access is free. This includes GP visits and walk-in clinic access.
  • Prescriptions, dentistry and opticians carry some charges.

Secondary healthcare

All secondary healthcare such as hospital referrals and treatment as well as inpatient care carry a charge. You should apply for an EHIC (European Health Insurance Card) before travelling to the UK if you are eligible for one regardless of your immigration status in case your plans change at the last minute.

You are covered for secondary healthcare if:

  1. you have paid the Immigration Health Surcharge (IHS) as part of your Student visa application.

    Since 01 January 2022, EU/EEA/Swiss students can request an IHS refund. You will only remain covered if you have a valid EHIC and do not work during your studies. Unless you are absolutely certain that you will not work, even part time, we do not recommend that you request a refund. For more details, carefully read Home Office webpage and IHS refund student information.

  2. you are in the UK short term on a Visitor visa and have a valid EHIC (European Health Insurance Card).
  3. you have pre-settled or settled status under the EU Settlement Scheme and have a valid EHIC (European Health Insurance Card).
  4. you have pre-settled or settled status under the EU Settlement Scheme and are 'ordinarily resident in the UK'. In practice, this means you have made the UK your home and are living here for reasons other than study or
  5. you have private medical insurance. Make sure this specifically includes treatment in the UK as the UK is now no longer part of the EU so may not be included in standard 'EU' cover.

Dual nationals

British nationals who have been living overseas should consider private medical insurance unless you can demonstrate that you are 'ordinarily resident in the UK'. That is that you are in the UK more permanently than for study purposes.

Other healthcare

If your healthcare needs are not covered in the list above, you may still be exempt from some changes if your country has a reciprocal arrangement in place, for example you have a Norwegian passport. We recommend all other students have adequate medical insurance to cover specialist appointments whilst in the UK. For more details please see NHS guidance.

Your first point of contact for medical treatment in the UK is through a General Practitioner (GP) or health centre. Most illnesses and other problems can be treated by the GP, but if a specialist is needed then the GP will refer you to an appropriate hospital department. GP appointments are free, but there is likely to be a charge for any medication you need.

Accident & Emergency departments are open 24 hours a day in some hospitals to provide emergency medical assistance to anyone within the UK.

Exeter-based students: You should register with the Student Health Centre online before you get here. Additional information on the services can be found on the Health Centre homepage.

Cornwall-based studentsThe Penryn Surgery is available in the Tremough House Annexe, Penryn Campus, Monday-Friday during term time. Once you know your address you can register with the Penryn Surgery online or during ‘Move-in’ weekend. If you have any questions the Compass Helpdesk (in the Library in the Exchange Building) will be able to help.

If you will be living in Falmouth, Truro or the surrounding areas, The Compass team will have details about other local doctor surgeries as well.

All students: You will be allocated an NHS number once you've registered with a GP practice as described above. To register with a doctor please ensure that you bring the following information for yourself and your family, if they are coming with you:

  • Details of any past illnesses requiring medical treatment
  • A full record of past immunizations

If you are currently taking medicines please make sure you bring adequate medication to cover the first few weeks at University. Take your medicines or the empty containers to the Health Centre when you have your first doctor’s appointment. Be aware that not all medicines you have access to at home may be available within the UK.

If you have had a serious illness, if you are currently undergoing medical treatment or hospital investigation, or if you are currently taking medication, then a brief doctor’s letter in English, summarizing your medical history, will help the Health Centre to provide you with uninterrupted health care. Please do not send this in advance of your arrival but bring it with you when you register at the Health Centre.

All students under 25 years of age starting at the University of Exeter are advised to have the Meningitis ACWY vaccination. If you haven't had this already in your home country, and if you have paid the Immigration Health Surcharge, you can receive the vaccine for free.

If you're over 25 years old, there may be a small cost for the vaccine. Check with your Health Centre or Practice directly.

Streatham campus

Register with the Student Health Centre before you arrive in Exeter. The Health Centre will be holding vaccination clinics in during Freshers' Week (time and days to be confirmed). No need to make an appointment, just drop in. Outside these vaccination clinics, make an appointment directly with the Student Health Centre.

St Luke's campus

Register and contact the Heavitree Practice directly to book an appointment.

Cornwall campus

Registered with the Penryn Surgery (email to request a registration form), you can then book an appointment with the Penryn Surgery