What are the health and support services available in the UK?
Here’s a lowdown on the support services available for you!
Moving to a new country isn’t always easy. That’s why most schools, colleges and universities in the UK offer orientation programs, which help you make new friends and get to know your new campus and city.
If you find yourself struggling or in need of advice or assistance, the National Union of Students or UK Council for International Student Affairs are both great places to reach out to. Visit their websites to find out more about how they can help.
You can also get free, independent and confidential advice on your rights and responsibilities in the UK, covering things such as benefits, work, money, consumer, housing, healthcare and education, from Citizens Advice.
In case you get hassled at any point, you can reach out to:
Campus support services
Dedicated to support international students via various orientations and programs. These may include supportive and educational workshops, cultural celebrations and academic support. Sometimes, they also help with student accommodation and employment/internship opportunities.
Student associations on campus
Most universities and colleges have their own student associations, which help international students manage their various activities along with academics. Some universities also have a dedicated international student associations to offer unbiased support to students from another country.
For instance, Oxford University has a Newcomers’ Club that offers a common platform to all newly-arrived students to meet, interact and even explore the city together.
Student associations off campus
There are various student associations outside of campus that work for the welfare of national and international students. For instance, the National Union of Students in the UK is a national representative body that works for student rights and represents over seven million students in the country.
Support for students with disabilities
Most universities and institutions offer special support to international students with disabilities, but it is best to communicate the same at the time of application to discuss if any special arrangements need to be made for you.
Staying healthy while you study
You might find yourself in need of medical support while in the UK.
If you are studying in the UK for longer than six months, you can generally access the following treatments (and some others) free through the UK’s National Health Service (NHS):
- Some emergency treatment (but not follow-up treatment)
- Family planning services
- Diagnosis and treatment of certain communicable diseases
To qualify for free or discounted NHS treatment, you must meet certain conditions and pay an additional International Health Surcharge as part of your visa application. To find out more, visit the UK Council for International Student Affairs (UKCISA) website.
Don’t forget to register with a GP
You should register with a local doctor as soon as you can after arriving in the UK, as they will be able to help you with a wide range of health problems.
To register, you will need to visit the doctor’s clinic during consulting hours, and show them:
- a letter from your institution, as proof that you are a student
- your passport
- any loose immigration documents
It’s important to let them know you want treatment from the NHS (provided you are eligible) so you avoid paying the full (private) cost of treatment