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Health surcharge for international students to increase

International students applying for a Student visa can expect an increase in the Immigration Health Surcharge (IHS) from £470 to £776 per year. 

The IHS provides students with access to NHS treatment. Regardless of whether the applicant has private medical insurance or does not intend to use the NHS, the fee must be paid when applying for a Student visa. The price increase is expected to take effect on or after 6 February 2024.

This change comes after the increase in visa fees that came into force in October 2023. The price of the Student visa application increased by £127, now costing £490.

Students interested in applying for the visa should also take heed of the time added before and after their specified course date by the Home Office (HO). The added period impacts the health services fee. The HO is a ministerial department of the UK government that deals with immigration and security. 

For courses that are a year or longer, four months are added to the course end date. For a Master’s program lasting less than a year, two months are added to the end date. The additional charge for periods less than six months used to be £235. It will now be bumped to £388.

For example, a 12-month Master’s course with an additional four months added by the HO used to have an IHS of £705. With the changing rates, it will now cost £1,164. The IHS is paid using an applicant’s local currency, meaning the exchange rate may further hike up the price. 

International students are also required to pay the IHS for the full duration of their course, even if it includes an extended period outside the UK, such as a year abroad for Modern Languages or a mandatory work placement during which they cannot access NHS services.

Oxford’s international student community faces far higher student fees than their UK resident counterparts. A Cherwell investigation noted international student fees have doubled between 2018 and 2023. While home fees have remained relatively the same, international fees have substantially grown. 

Inflation has led to higher living costs and tuition fees, disproportionately affecting international students. Fluctuating currency rates have similarly impacted international student costs. 

According to the University, as of December 2022, 46% of the total student body comprised international students, with most of them being graduate students. Oxford students come from all over the world with more than 160 countries and territories identified so far. 

The University works with select government agencies, committees, and joint bodies when making decisions regarding the level of fees charged for programmes of study. Affording to deal with the hike in prices nonetheless entails a degree of economic privilege that can deter otherwise qualified international students from applying.

International students interested in applying to study in the UK should continue closely monitoring changes in tuition and visa fees. For those thinking of applying for the Graduate visa route after completing their studies, the health surcharge will also be raised from £624 to £1,035 per year.

Potential international applicants can find out more information on the Oxford visa and immigration page.

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