Student Essentials: What Health Services are Free for Students in the UK?

  |     |   Health & Wellbeing

Discover a few ways to save on healthcare essentials while studying in the UK and help your budget stretch further each month!


Is the dentist free for students?

Dentistry is not free in the UK and can be very expensive in some cases, but the good news is that students are eligible to receive free NHS dental treatments if they’re under 19-years old and studying full time.

If you’re older than 19, don’t worry, you can also apply to the NHS Low Income Scheme, which could help you qualify for free dental treatment.

Just like registering with a doctor, students in the UK also need to register with a dentist. Try to do this as soon as possible when settling into your student city. Remember to state that you’re signing up as an NHS patient.

Waiting times for an NHS dentist can be lengthy, so try to book check-ups for every six months. If you’re in an emergency, you can go private, but this will put a serious dent in your budget.

Find an NHS dentist near you.


Do students get free eye tests?

Full-time students from anywhere in the UK can receive one free eye test a year, up to 18 years old, so it’s important to book one before you start uni! You also qualify for a free eye test if you are registered as partially sighted or blind if you’ve been diagnosed with diabetes or glaucoma, or on income support.

Alternatively, students that have an HC2 certificate are eligible for a free eye test.

If you do need to pay, the average cost of an eye test is between £20-£25, and you’ll also need to pay for any glasses or contacts. You can find good deals all over the high street, so do some shopping around before you settle on frames.


Do students get free prescriptions?

Up to the age of 18, prescriptions are free. They may also be free for up to 12 months while studying if you have an HC2 certificate from the NHS Low-Income Scheme.

If you are required to pay, the current prescription charge is £9.15 per item. An NHS prescription prepayment certificate (PPC) can save you money though! If you pay £29.65 in advance, you can get as many prescriptions as you need for that time at no extra charge. You can also pay £105.90 for 12 months, saving you serious cash if you need several prescribed items each year.


Health insurance for international students

Students from EU countries should have European Health Insurance Card (EHIC), which allows you to benefit from the NHS – however, you’re only eligible if your course is longer than six months.

International students from outside the EU need to check if they must pay an immigration health surcharge (IHS) when applying for visas to the UK.

It’s important to note that these rules might change, once the UK has completely exited the EU.


Do Students get a free flu vaccine?

Unfortunately not. You have to be over the age of 50, pregnant, or at risk to qualify for a free flu vaccine. You can get one from Boots for around £13 though.


Is contraception free in the UK?

Yes! You can get your choice of contraception for free from any sexual health clinic and even some GPs, including condoms and the pill. You can also get a free STI test by phoning your doctor or visiting a clinic – there may even be one at uni.

It’s crucial to get tested every six months, depending on how sexually active you are. Find answers to some of your most common STI questions here.


Live well and study

As a side note, the UK also offers the Disabled Students Allowance (DSA), which financially aids those with mental health conditions or physical disabilities.

For more information on the NHS, visit their website.


Other benefits for students

Thanks to your uni-issued student card, you’ll have access to a host of entertainment, food or drink specials in your town or city.

Also, the majority of uni towns and cities in the UK like Liverpool, Brighton and London, offer affordable trains, trams and bus routes – many of which have special student discount cards. Enquire with the town or city’s local transport service.

In a high-pressure environment like uni, mental health should take a priority. Many unis offer access to free counselling, on or off-campus.

Discover a few more ways to save money as a student.

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