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International Students

Health Advice for International Students

We hope that your time at Cardiff University will be happy and healthy. However, everyone occasionally feels unwell. This information will help you with some of your health concerns.

NHS Treatment

If you are a full-time student whose course lasts for 6 months or more you are entitled to NHS treatment from the beginning of your stay. Your husband, wife, and/or children (under the age of 16, or 19 if in further education) if living permanently with you, will also be entitled to NHS treatment.

Students whose course is less than 6 months and not substantially funded by the UK Government (from a country with which the UK does not hold a bilateral healthcare agreement) will be charged for any NHS treatment unless covered by an exemption.

Certain NHS treatments are free to everyone, regardless of status, and these are:

  • Treatment given in an accident and emergency department or casualty department
  • Family planning services
  • Treatment for certain communicable diseases
  • Compulsory psychiatric treatment
Health Costs

Charges are normally made for prescriptions, optical treatment and dental treatment. Certain groups may either be exempt or entitled to reductions depending on their circumstances. In Wales, if you are a full-time student on a course of 6 months or more and under 25 years of age, you will be entitled to free prescriptions and free dental check ups. Alternatively if you are over 25 years of age and your income is low you may be entitled to reductions on these charges and these will be shown on form HC11 "Are you entitled to help with health costs" obtainable from main post offices, pharmacies or by contacting NHS Direct Wales.

Details of current NHS charges are available in leaflet HC12 "NHS charges and optical voucher values" from main post offices or by contacting NHS direct.

Registering with a doctor (GP)

When you arrive in Cardiff you are advised to register with a doctor to ensure that you have adequate health care whilst in Cardiff. Attempting to find a doctor when you are ill is an unnecessary pressure that is best avoided, so please register as soon as possible.  Remember to take evidence that you are in the UK as a student and details of your course of study.

You can register with a doctor at:

  • University accommodation. If you are living in university accommodation, registration can be arranged through your hall of residence.  Ask the residence manager for details.
  • Direct with a GP practice by going to the surgery. A list of practices can be obtained from the University Health Centre, at the Student’s Union Advice Centre and on the GPs/Dentists section of this website.

Further information on NHS treatment, prescription charges/exemptions and registering with a doctor (GP) can be obtained from the following organisations:-

Health Concerns for Students

Awareness of certain infectious diseases is important to us all, but when living and working in a close community certain infectious diseases can spread rapidly. It is important to be able to recognise certain illnesses so that medical assistance can be sought quickly.


What is it?

It is a potentially fatal disease caused by the inflammation of the lining around the brain and spinal cord.

How is it spread?

By very close contact, such as kissing or from coughing and sneezing.

What are the symptoms?

  • Severe headache
  • Stiff neck, back and joint pains
  • Severe sensitivity to light
  • Very high temperature
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Disorientation and coma
  • Rash of tiny red bruises that doesn’t fade under pressure

Not all these symptoms are always present together. Symptoms may develop over one or two days, but sometimes develop in a matter of hours.


If you are worried, get medical advice urgently — early treatment saves lives.

Consult your GP or, during the week, 9am-4.30pm, the University Health Centre or contact the Accident and Emergency Unit at the University Hospital of Wales, Heath Park. 029 2074 8039.

Immunisation against Meningitis

If you are 25 or younger, you are strongly advised by the University to have a vaccination. This is a free service provided by your GP. This does not provide immunity to all strains of meningitis, so you should still watch out for symptoms.

Further information

Meningitis Research Foundation. Tel: 0808 800 3344 or visit their website

National Meningitis Trust. Tel: 0845 6000 800


What is it?

It is a virus that can damage the body’s defence system so that it cannot fight certain infections.

How is it spread?

  • Through unprotected sexual intercourse (anal and vaginal)
  • By drug users sharing needles and syringes.
  • From an infected mother to her unborn child.
  • Through receiving blood in some countries which have less well-developed health care systems.

HIV is not spread through

Kissing, touching, hugging, shaking hands, sharing crockery and cutlery, coughing or sneezing, contact with toilet seats, insect or animal bites, eating food prepared by someone with HIV.

What are the symptoms?

  • HIV attacks the body’s defence system so the symptoms are many and varied.
  • Several years after infection, a person may experience symptoms or particular illnesses and cancers.
  • Most people with HIV look and feel healthy for a long time so you can’t tell who has the virus just by looking at them.
  • In each case, HIV infection is difficult to diagnose without having taken an HIV antibody test first.


If you think you may be HIV positive, it is important to visit your GP or a sexual health (GUM) clinic and have a blood test. These tests are confidential.

HIV treatment is free in the UK and there are benefits to being diagnosed early and starting treatment before symptoms of the disease begin.

There are anti-viral drugs available to help reduce the rate at which HIV weakens the immune system and also drugs available to prevent and treat some of the specific infections.

Immunisation against AIDS/HIV

There is no vaccination against this disease. Prevention is the best defence. If you are sexually active, always practise safe sex. Do not share needles or syringes.

Further Information

Sexual health/GUM clinics specialise in diagnosing and treating HIV. For an appointment contact Cardiff Royal Infirmary, Newport Road, Cardiff. Tel: 029 2033 5207/5208.

Speak to a trained advisor at the National AIDS helpline. Tel: 0800567123.

The THT helpline provides a gateway to HIV services, information, advice and support over the phone and or via the website

Tuberculosis (TB)

What is it?

TB is a bacterial airborne disease, which usually attacks the lungs, but can affect almost any part of the body.

How is it spread?

  • People who have close daily contact with someone with TB are at greatest risk.
  • When someone who has active and untreated TB coughs, sneezes or speaks.

TB is not spread through:

Someone coughing in the street or at a restaurant, through sharing crockery or cutlery, sheets or clothing.

What are the symptoms?

  • A cough that will not go away
  • Feeling constantly tired
  • Coughing up blood
  • Appetite and weight loss
  • Fever and night sweats


If you feel unwell and think you have TB it is important to visit your GP who will refer you to the hospital to have a skin test and chest X-ray.

TB can be treated with antibiotics, which are taken over 6 to 9 months.


Students on medical related courses must be immunised and this will be carried out through the university health centre.  If you have any concerns, contact:

Occupational Health Centre

Phone: (029) 2087 4810

47 Park Place
CF10 3AT

Further Information

Your doctor can give you further information