The government may begin to charge foreign students for use of the National Health Service, an investigation by Welsh student newspaper Gair Rhyyd has revealed. The findings suggest that the government is willing to implement a £150 surcharge to international students regardless of the impact they actually make upon the NHS, on entry to the UK.
It is reported that the £150 charge would be added to international student’s visas, but would only apply to new students coming to the UK to study, not international students currently studying at UK universities. Allegedly a policy paper described the current system, which sees non-native students receive the same treatment as UK students as ‘very generous particularly when compared with international practice.’
It is thought that the new legislation has been drafted in order to prevent so called ‘health tourism’. The current Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt has estimated that migrants use of the NHS is currently costing the UK economy £12 million a year. Yet many critics have discussed that the measures are unfair as on the whole students are unlikely to require major treatment, and hence are unlikely to cost the NHS significant amounts of money. However, so far the reports are simply speculation, further news on the policy is expected in the coming months.