Foreign students should pay towards NHS but cost should not deter them

Published Thu 10 Oct 2013
Think tank calls for boost to foreign student numbers

Ahead of the publication of the Government's Immigration Bill, IPPR is arguing that Ministers should make attracting foreign students a policy priority, rather than reducing numbers through the blunt instrument of their net migration target. Foreign students contributed more than £13 billion to the UK in 2011 according to the government, and IPPR argues that the UK should be taking steps to enhance the UK's position as a world leader in this field.

IPPR says that evidence shows overseas students are not heavy users of the NHS but they do make some use of the UK's health services. IPPR argues there should be a levy at the point of entry so that students make a contribution to the cost of accessing the NHS while they are in Britain, on a par with the amount it would cost them to take out health insurance in other countries. However, IPPR warns against using the charge to deter students and says it should be no more than £200.

Tim Finch, IPPR Associate Director, said:

"There is very little evidence of so called 'health tourism' to Britain and students who are generally young and fit are not putting a strain on the NHS. But it's reasonable that they pay a small up front charge to make a contribution to the cost of accessing the NHS while they study in Britain.

"But charging students should be about making a fair contribution, not deterring people from coming to study in the UK. In fact, we should be working harder to attract foreign students so that the UK can maintain and enhance its place in a competitive global market. Students who go to America will be paying far more for healthcare insurance and in Australia they charge a similar amount to the £200 charge we are proposing, so such a charge should not put students off coming to the UK."

Notes to Editors

IPPR will publish a new report on international students next month.

IPPR's report - International students and net migration in the UK - is available from:


Richard Darlington, 07525 481 602,
Natalie Cox, 07983 550 337,

Back to top