Looking after your health

Have you thought about your medical needs while studying overseas? There's some important things to consider and to sort before you leave for Birmingham.

International students on campus

Health insurance

If you’re enrolling on a course which lasts for less than six months you must make sure that you have medical and health insurance before arriving in the UK to cover any expenses which may arise.

Although the NHS service is free, there are supplementary charges associated with eye tests, dental care and prescriptions.

It is also worth considering private medical insurance in the unlikely event that you become seriously ill. This could cover the costs of you returning home, or if a member of your family travels to the UK to help in the event of an emergency.

Health care

Healthcare is provided under the NHS by doctors (General Practitioners or GPs), located in surgeries close to where you are living. It is important that you register with a doctor soon after you arrive in the UK.

You can search for GPs in your local area on the NHS website. Our student support teams can also put you in touch with a local GP surgery.

Pharmacies are also able to provide treatments and advice for minor illnesses, such as coughs and colds, rashes, stomach upsets, bites and stings and hay fever, and can often be found on your local high street.

Accessing urgent healthcare

NHS 111: If you have an urgent medical problem, but it is not life-threatening, you can contact the NHS by telephoning 111 for help and advice. You can ask for a translator if you need one. NHS 111 is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

999: Call 999 in a medical emergency. This means that someone is seriously ill/injured and their life is at risk. You can call 999 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

Accident & Emergency (A&E): As well as calling 999, you can visit A&E in a medical emergency. A&E departments are open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Medical staff in A&E are highly trained in emergency medicine.

Mental health

You can get advice and treatment for your mental health through the NHS website, your GP surgery and by calling NHS 111. The University also has a dedicated Mental Health and Wellbeing Team, consisting of counsellors, mental health advisers and wellbeing advisers, who are here to support you. You can find out more about this support here.

Sexual health

The NHS also offers sexual health services. Sexual health services are free and available to everyone regardless of your sex, age, ethnic origin or sexual orientation. You can find your nearest sexual health service here.


Meningitis outbreaks occur all over the world and the Chief Medical Officer for Health in England has recommended that all new students are vaccinated against Group C Meningitis.

You should contact your own doctor about this or speak to our own Healthcare Services team when you arrive at Birmingham City University.

Pulmonary Tuberculosis (TB) Certificate

Students from certain countries applying for a UK visa which is longer than six months will be required to obtain a certificate showing they are free from infectious pulmonary tuberculosis (TB). See which countries this applies to.

Frequently Asked Questions

Will I have to pay to use NHS services?

If you have been granted a general student visa (a Tier 4 visa) you will have had to pay an Immigration Health Surcharge (IHS) as part of your visa application fee. This will entitle you to access healthcare in the UK through the NHS in the same way as a UK national at no additional cost.

The following treatment provided by the NHS is free for everyone:

  • A&E services (but not follow-up treatment, or admission as an in-patient to hospital)
  • Family planning services
  • Diagnosis and treatment of sexually transmitted infections
How does Brexit affect healthcare?

The UK left the European Union on 1 January 2020. During the transition period, which will last until 31 December 2020, students from the European Economic Area (EEA) and Switzerland can continue to access NHS services at no additional cost for all treatment that a healthcare professional feels is needed during their stay in the UK.

These arrangements could change once the transition period ends. However, if your course begins before the transition period ends on 31/12/2020, you can apply for the EU Settlement Scheme in order to protect your immigration status and healthcare access.