Keeping Healthy at University


It's important to look after your health when away from home. This includes registering with a new GP and finding your local sexual health service.

Here are our 5 top tips for our students.



1. Register with a local GP

If, like most students, you spend more weeks of the year at your university address than your family's address, you will need to register with a GP near your university home as soon as possible. That way you can receive emergency care if you need it, and access health services quickly and easily while you're studying. It's especially important if you have an ongoing health condition, particularly one that needs medicine, such as asthma, diabetes or epilepsy.

You can choose to register with any local GP. The University Medical Centre is located within the Wellbeing Centre (1st floor).



Getting ill during the holidays

If you become unwell or need other medical treatment when you're at home or not staying near the university, you can contact your nearest practice to ask for treatment. You can receive emergency treatment for 14 days. After that, you will have to register as a temporary resident or permanent patient. If you have an urgent care need use NHS111 first.  This service can be found online; on the NHSApp or by calling 111.



2. Register with a dentist

Dental problems cannot be dealt with by doctors, so make sure you register with a local dentist. Not all treatment is free, even under the NHS. You may be able to apply for help with health costs, including prescriptions and dental care.

Find a local dentist in Plymouth and check if they are accepting new patients under the NHS here -



3. Check your vaccinations

Students are now routinely offered a vaccination to prevent meningitis W disease. All 17 and 18 year olds in school year 13 and first-time university students up to the age of 25 are eligible as part of the NHS vaccination programme. GP practices will automatically send letters inviting 17 and 18 year olds in school year 13 to have the MenACWY vaccine. But if you're a student going away to university or college for the first time, contact the GP you're registered with to ask for the MenACWY vaccine. This is because you'll be at particularly high risk in the first weeks of term, when you're likely to come into contact with many new people.

Mumps vaccination

Universities and colleges also advise students to be immunized against mumps before starting their studies. The MMR vaccine (for mumps, measles and rubella) is part of the routine NHS childhood immunisation schedule. This means most young people who've grown up in England will have had 2 doses of it in childhood. If you're not sure you've had 2 doses of the MMR vaccination, ask a GP for a catch-up vaccination.

Flu jab

Get an annual flu vaccination if you have asthma and take inhaled steroids. You should also get a flu vaccination if you have a serious long-term condition such as kidney disease

Covid vaccination

You’re now eligible for the covid vaccination. Book online at



4. Get contraception

Even if you do not plan to be sexually active while studying, it's good to be prepared.

Contraception and condoms are free for everyone from any GP – it does not have to be your own – or family planning clinic.


You can get free contraception and condoms from:

  • Most GP surgeries (talk to your GP or practice nurse)
  • Plymouth SHiP
  • Community contraceptive clinics
  • Some genitourinary medicine (GUM) clinics
  • Sexual health clinics (these offer contraceptive and STI testing services)
  • Some young people's services

Find your nearest sexual health service, including contraceptive clinics.

Many of these places offer information, testing and treatment for STIs, including chlamydia.

If you have been exposed to the risk of pregnancy, you may also be at risk of catching an STI.

There are lots of contraceptive methods to choose from. You should use a method that suits you, not just because your friends are using it.

Don't be put off if the first method you use isn't quite right for you: you can try another.


Sexual Health in Plymouth (SHiP) provides free and confidential sexual health and contraception services. You can contact Plymouth SHiP at



5. Rest and eat healthy food

You'll greatly increase your chances of keeping healthy by taking care of yourself.

Student life may not be renowned for early nights and healthy eating but getting enough sleep and eating well will mean you have a better chance of staying healthy.

You'll feel more energetic and be better equipped to cope with studying and exams.

Remember to:

Eating well does not have to cost a lot and is often cheaper than takeaways. Taking the time to cook simple meals instead of eating out or buying ready meals is also healthier.

You might want to try downloading the free One You Easy Meals app – available on the App Store and Google Play.


To get support from the SU Advice TeamClick here