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University Toolkit: Studying abroad

Content last reviewed and updated: 25.04.2024

A female student abroad, wearing a denim jacket and carrying a black rucksack while smiling.

Some courses may enable you to complete part of your studies abroad.

If you are thinking about this, start your research early. Finding out about the support you can get is hugely important. Speak to your home university’s international office or student support services about your options. Take advice before you go. You will want to think and plan carefully about how you will access medical care and supplies for your type 1 diabetes whilst you’re away.

Healthcare abroad

Once you have decided where you would like to study, it is useful to find out what healthcare you are entitled to in your host country and research how you will get your diabetes supplies abroad.

The Global Health Insurance Card (GHIC) lets you get state healthcare on the same basis as a resident of that country, paid for by the UK. Find out more about the GHIC, where you can use it and how to get one.

If you’re going to study in a country where the GHIC doesn’t apply, you will not be entitled to healthcare that is paid for by the UK. However, the UK has reciprocal healthcare agreements with some of these countries. If the country you are studying in does have a reciprocal healthcare agreement and you plan to study there for less than six months, you will be entitled to emergency care or immediate necessary treatment during the period of study abroad. Find out more on the NHS website.

Wherever you plan to study, you may also want to make contact with the local type 1 diabetes society in the country you are going to. The society should be able to give you information on how their healthcare system works and how best to obtain type 1 diabetes supplies.

Insurance

You will probably want to take out additional insurance when you are studying abroad. The level of cover will depend on your individual circumstances.

Visit Year Abroad Insurance for some helpful information on the insurance available for students studying abroad.

If you go on holiday or your course involves a placement abroad remember to take spare equipment and medication. If there is more than a 3-hour time zone difference speak to your healthcare team. Despite increased airline security restrictions, people with diabetes can still carry their blood testing and injection equipment as hand luggage. Ask your doctor or nurse to write a letter explaining your need for injector pens, pump supplies (if you use one) and insulin.

What you need to pack:

  • Insulin
  • Needles
  • Blood glucose monitor/finger pricker/strips
  • Hypo treatment
  • ID bracelet/card/necklace
  • Ketone test strips/sick day rules leaflet
  • Frio bag
  • Letter explaining you have diabetes
  • Safe clip or sharps box
  • Repeat prescription
  • Insurance cover
  • Carbohydrate snacks
  • Healthcare team telephone number – find out the best way to contact your team while you’re away e.g. email, Skype

For more information about travelling and type 1 diabetes, visit our main travelling with type 1 diabetes page.

In partnership with:

Diabetes UK, NHS England and NHS Norwich and Norfolk University Hospitals partner logos