If you are an international student on a Tier 4 student visa like I am, there’s no need to panic about what to do if you get ill during your stay in the UK. Read on for my guide to healthcare in the UK and what to do if you get ill at university.


The application fee we pay for our Visa includes the Immigration Health Surcharge (IHS), which means we are able to use National Health Service (NHS) in the UK. You can consult a doctor (GP) and use most of the services for free and you will be informed if you are charged for a certain service. The medical consultation is usually free but you may have to pay for medication.

If you are an EU/EEA student or Swiss national, you need to get a European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) or private medical insurance before coming to the UK.

All students can access emergency treatment at the hospital Accident & Emergency (A&E) department if they need emergency treatment for serious illness or injury.

Registering with GP (doctor) or Health Centre

Every student should register with the Student Health Centre on campus before you arrive in Exeter. This ensures you get your medical treatment during your time in Exeter. For more info, please go to the Health Centre website

Bring details of any past illnesses requiring medical treatment and a full record of past immunisations if you will be registering with a Doctor.

Self-care tips

  1. Have emergency medications

Having a decent stash of Panadol, paracetamol, ibuprofen and antibiotics in your room is a life-saver for yourself and your friends. As a saying goes, “if you fail to prepare, prepare to fail.” There is nothing worse than having a red nose, looking like a zombie and trying to figure out what medicine you should get from the local pharmacies.

  1. Have emergency money

No one wants to hike for a cash point when they’re half dead. Having some cash with you at all times is important just in case you need to take a cab to town for some medical consultation or if you need to send a friend to get you some comfort food and medicine.

  1. Keep your room tidy

Do a clean every once in a while to keep the grossness and bacteria away from you. Let’s be real, we spend most of our time in our rooms so having a neat room is essential for university students.

  1. Maintain your health

Rest and water will definitely get you through days when you are feeling a bit groggy. Also remember to exercise regularly and consume your daily nutrition every day so you are less likely to be ill. Don’t you want to fully experience life in university and not have your nose stuffed every single day? (And now I sound like a mum, you’re welcome.)

I hope these tips and information are helpful for anyone who wants to know more about healthcare in Exeter and in the UK in general. For more information, please visit the University’s International Student Support website.