For Commonwealth Scholars and Fellows
in the United Kingdom

Health and welfare

National Health Service (NHS)

The NHS (National Health Service) is the UK’s state health service. NHS regulations are subject to change and vary slightly in Scotland, Wales, and Northern Ireland. For information on how the UK healthcare system works, visit the UKCISA Health and Healthcare page. You should also check the NHS website for your location:

If you have applied for a Student visa of more than 6 months, you will need to have paid the Immigration Health Surcharge (IHS), or have had the fee paid for you (see below). This allows you to access NHS services in the same way that other people ordinarily resident in Britain can. The majority of NHS services are free to use, but you may be required to pay for some aspects of it, such as prescription costs for those living in England.

There are many private healthcare providers in the UK, and whilst waiting lists are shorter the costs are much higher. The CSC cannot cover the cost of any private medical treatment that you undertake. If you have taken out private medical or travel insurance then your policy might cover the costs of such treatment.

There is a range of other information and resources to help you prepare for living in the UK and accessing support for health and wellbeing available on the CSC Student Wellbeing page.

Immigration Health Surcharge (IHS)

If you are applying for a Student visa from outside the UK, the IHS will be paid for you by the FCDO, but you will still need to complete the section of the form relating to the IHS and confirm that you have a ‘Chevening, Marshall or Commonwealth Scholarship’ on your visa application.

If you are asked to pay the IHS, you should query this with the visa application centre immediately and inform your Programme Officer. You should not make any payment as this will not be reimbursed.

If you are accompanied by your spouse and/or children, then they will not receive a waiver for any IHS fee that is due. To find out how much your dependants will need to pay, visit the UK Government page on health care as part of your immigration application.

PhD Scholars: If you are applying to extend your visa from within the UK, you may be required to pay the IHS before you can submit your visa application. If this is the case, you are eligible for reimbursement of the IHS for one approved visa extension application. Please make sure you keep the confirmation of both the IHS and visa payments.


To claim reimbursement for this cost, you should submit the receipt with a Claim for Reimbursement form to your Programme Officer within 3 months of making your application. Please visit the Policies and Forms page to obtain a copy of the Claim for Reimbursement form.

Registering with a doctor (General Practitioner – GP)

When you arrive in the UK, you should register with a local doctor, known as a GP or General Practitioner as soon as possible. Many universities have their own health centres that you can use. Please check your university’s website for information about healthcare and access to local health services.

If you have a pre-existing medical condition then we would recommend that you bring any personal medical documentation (in English), including prescriptions, with you to the UK. This might help your new UK GP assess your condition quickly which will improve your access to treatment. You can bring medication with you to the UK, but we would advise you to check that it doesn’t contain a controlled drug or that you need a licence to bring it to the UK. You can read more about this on the UK Government’s website.

For further information, you can also visit the UKCISA page on Health and Healthcare. If you have a disability, mental health condition, or other health requirement, the GP will be able to advise you on treatment and support available in the local area.

Emergency dental and eye care

You can also register with a dental practice when you arrive in the UK. Again, NHS regulations and costs for this type of treatment are subject to change and vary slightly in Scotland, Wales, and Northern Ireland. As an NHS patient, you can book routine check-ups and dental treatment at a subsidised cost. The cost of treatment is banded according to the type of treatment that you receive and the procedure that is involved. Please visit the NHS page on dental treatment charges to find out more.

You should be aware, however, that not all dental practices accept NHS patients, and you may find that registering with an NHS dentist is difficult. If this is the case, you should ask your university for advice, as they may be able to assist with finding an appropriate dental practice.

You will receive a ‘Supplementary Allowance’ of £85 per year of your award to assist in covering optical and dental expenses. This will be paid automatically in your December stipend payment, or in your next stipend payment if your award begins after December.

You no longer need to apply for this via the forms on our website because it will be paid to you automatically.

Notification of illness

If you fall ill, you must inform your university as soon as possible so you can get support in relation to completing your studies. Please also inform your Programme Officer as soon as you are able to.

PhD and Split-Site Scholars: If you are unable to study because of an illness lasting more than four consecutive weeks, you may be eligible for an extension of your scholarship on grounds of ill health, for a maximum of 13 weeks. If this is the case, you must inform your Programme Officer by email immediately of the date your illness began.


Please refer to the CSC Ill-Health Policy for more information.

Allowances while in hospital

If you are admitted to hospital, you are eligible to receive your stipend in full for the first 14 days. After this period, your stipend will be suspended and you will receive a daily allowance for incidental expenses, retention of lodgings allowance (if applicable), and spouse and/or child allowances (if applicable).

If you need to stay in hospital for more than 28 days, your allowances will be reviewed.

Compassionate airfare

The CSC has a compassionate airfare policy if you are affected by the bereavement of a partner or first-degree relative. If this applies to you, please contact your Programme Officer. Please note, we can only offer one return flight per Scholar under this policy.

If you are affected by the critical illness of a partner or first-degree relative, your case can be considered on an individual basis.

If you have an urgent request that occurs when the CSC offices are closed, for example over the weekend or during a public holiday, you should contact the CSC’s approved travel provider, Diversity Travel by calling 0161 300 8258.

Please refer to the CSC Compassionate Policy for more information.

If you have suffered a bereavement, you can find information on organisations that provide additional support on the Student Wellbeing Page.

Maternity leave

PhD and Split-Site Scholars: The CSC has a maternity policy for PhD and Split-Site Scholars. This entitles you take maternity leave which must first be approved by your university. If you remain in the UK to give birth, you are eligible for:

  • Paid maternity leave for the period of authorised absence granted by your university, up to a maximum of 17 weeks.
  • Unpaid maternity leave, if an authorised absence is approved by your university, up to a further 35 weeks.

If you decide to take unpaid maternity leave, this must immediately follow on from the paid leave.

If you return to your home country to give birth, you are eligible for:

  • One approved CSC-funded return airfare for yourself only to the nearest major airport to your home town in your home country.

Your stipend will be suspended for the duration that you are out of the country and the period of suspension will be added to your scholarship tenure.

Your maternity leave must start during your scholarship tenure – no earlier than 11 weeks before the expected date of delivery and no later than the date the baby is born.

The CSC must be notified in writing by week 26 of the pregnancy. Before any maternity leave can be approved, you must also provide:

  • The Expected Date of Delivery from your GP (General Practitioner) or Midwife with confirmation that you are able to fly on the intended date that the Maternity Fare has been requested.
  • Your university’s agreement to maternity leave, giving the agreed dates of leave from the university. You should ask your Programme Officer for further information about the CSC Maternity Policy.

Paternity leave

PhD and Split-Site Scholars: PhD and Split-Site Scholars are eligible for two consecutive weeks of paid paternity leave. The paternity leave must be taken either during the last 11 weeks of the pregnancy of your partner, or within 13 weeks of the birth of the baby.


You must inform your Programme Officer of your intention to take paternity leave prior to the birth of the baby. In order for paternity leave to be authorised, you must forward confirmation of the due date from the GP or Midwife, as well as written confirmation from your university that the paternity leave has been authorised.


You should ask your Programme Officer for further information about the CSC Paternity Policy.