International students studying in the UK will be eligible to receive the COVID-19 vaccine, according to universities minister Michelle Donelan.
The vaccine will be available to anyone registered at a UK university at no additional cost.
The Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine is being rolled out across the UK from this week, with those over the age of 80 and NHS staff at the front of the queue.
The UK has ordered 40 million doses - enough for 20 million people - and it is expected that other vaccines will become available in the new year.
However, most students will have to wait their turn to receive a vaccine, as priority is given to health workers, the elderly, and those with underlying health conditions.
International students are required to pay a NHS surcharge as part of their visa application. After this, they are eligible for NHS treatment at no extra cost.
Speaking to PIE news, the Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) confirmed that international students will “be able to access these vaccinations, just as they are able to access healthcare”.
Donelan has also written an open letter to international students in the UK, reassuring them of the government’s commitment to supporting them during the pandemic.
“We are delighted that you have chosen to study with us and look forward to welcoming many more of you to our world-class universities in future years,” she said.
“I understand that international students may have additional questions as we approach the end of the 2020/21 autumn academic term.
“Whether you are currently at your chosen university, are studying remotely from your home country, or plan to study here in the future, I am writing to you directly to provide you with support and guidance at this challenging time.”
The letter provides key guidance for international students over the festive period, and can be read in full here.
To find out more about studying in the UK and the NHS, you can visit our Knowledge Base.