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Student Advice and Wellbeing


All international students studying in the UK for six months or more are eligible to receive health care from the National Health Service (NHS), which for most services is free. Non-urgent treatments or operations are not covered, however, and you will have to pay for any medication you are prescribed.

Registering with a doctor

It is important to register with a doctor as soon as you arrive. Don’t wait until you are ill. 

If you are registered, the doctor will be able to see you much quicker than if you are not yet registered unless you are seriously ill, seeing your doctor is better than going to a hospital Accident and Emergency Department.

The following GP practices are near to the Russell Square campus, have a broad catchment area and GPs with a strong interest in offering relevant services to students.

GP PracticeGeneral  informationCatchment areasOther services
Gower Street Practice
20 Gower Street
020 7636 7628

4 GPs & 2 nurses

Open Mon-Fri 09.00am-5.30pm.
Emergency clinic 11.30am-12.15pm

Will see any SOAS student in : EC1, N1, N4, N5, N6, N7, N16, N19, NW1, NW3, NW5, NW6*, NW8, SW1, SW3, SW5, SW6*, SW7, SW10*, W1, W2, W8, W9, W10*, W11*, W14*, WC1, WC2.

*Parts of these postcodes only. There are also other limited exceptions. Please check with the Health Centre Reception. Also please note, Gower Street catchment areas listed only applies if students register by the end of October.

Travel advice & vaccinations

Sexual health advice


Bloomsbury Surgery
1 Handel Street
020 7837 8559

Currently 5 GPs & 2 nurses

Open Mon/Thu 8.30am-8.00pm. Appointments only. Tue/Wed 8.00am-6.30pm, Fri 8.30am-6.30pm.
Same day appointments in emergency if contacted before 10am.
Out of hours service.

Good disabled access.


Travel advice & vaccinations

Sexual health advice



If you do not live centrally, you can register with any doctor close to where you live. You can search for GP Surgeries on the NHS website: www.nhs.uk or phone the NHS Direct on 0845 4647 . Take with you proof that you are a student and ask to be registered as a NHS patient.

Other services

The clinic where your doctor is based often has other facilities you can use eg. contraception advice, chiropodists, maternity care, asthma clinic, diabetes clinic, healthy lifestyle clinics.


If you are ill, you should always see your doctor first, who will refer you on to a hospital if it is appropriate. In the event of an accident or illness that needs immediate assistance, you should telephone 999 for the emergency services. These calls are free. This is also the number to use for urgent police and fire service assistance.


If you need to see a dentist, search for one on www.nhs.uk. Ask to be registered as an NHS patient (unless you prefer to pay full cost for private treatment.


You will have to pay a minimum charge for an eye test on the NHS. If the test shows you need glasses, the optician will give you a prescription. The cost of frames and lenses varies considerably, so check with various opticians before buying. The nearest optician to Russell Square is in the University of London Union building in Malet Street where the cost of an eye test for students is currently £12.

Other kinds of medicine

There are many clinics providing homeopathy, herbal medicine, osteopathy, acupuncture etc in London. These kinds of treatments are not usually available on the NHS, though your doctor should be able to put you in touch with local facilities.

Student Counselling

The School’s Student Counselling Service offers help and support with personal, emotional or work-related problems. If you would like to see a counsellor or find out more about what the service can offer, contact Student Services in Room V302 at Vernon Square, phone 020 7074 5016 or email counsellors@soas.ac.uk.

Healthy eating

Eating the right food, and enough of it, is vital for keeping warm and healthy. A healthy diet is one which includes elements from all the main food groups (protein, fat, carbohydrate, vitamins and minerals). You should try to eat something from each of the following groups every day:

  • Bread, rice, pasta or cereals
  • Milk, cheese, yoghurt
  • Fresh fruit and vegetables
  • Meat, fish, lentils, nuts, beans

There are many food stores in London where you can buy food from different parts of the world, so you should be able to find food that is familiar.

The British weather

The weather is unpredictable, but generally the coldest temperatures are in the period from November to February. Keep yourself warm by layering your clothes and buy a warm overcoat or raincoat and shoes for the winter. An umbrella is useful. Try to ensure that the rooms you live in are warm enough, but be careful not to keep your room too hot, as gas and electricity can be expensive – and it will feel even colder when you do go out.

Sexual health

British attitudes to sex may be different from those in your own country. It is often accepted that people who are involved in a relationship may have sex together. You are entirely free to live according to your personal standards and should not feel pressured to adopt those of anyone else.

If you are sexually active,, you may wish to consider how you will avoid pregnancy and sexually transmitted infections. You can get free and confidential advice on contraception and sexual health from your doctor or the Family Planning Clinic. You can also find useful information on contraception and sexual health on the Family Planning Association website.

The common cold

This is a very common illness in the winter months and it can cause a sore throat, sneezing and a cough. There is no effective cure for the common cold, but getting plenty of rest and drinking plenty of fluids will aid recovery. A cold will usually pass after a few days, but if symptoms get worse or the cold lasts for a very long time, you should consult your doctor. Many British people continue to work or attend classes when they have a cold.