Trips organised by schools

*Some schools arrange for groups of more senior students to go abroad to gain knowledge about other cultures and they may undertake voluntary fieldwork.

Going abroad for a period of adventure and experience before higher education or employment

  • After finishing at school, some students take the opportunity to travel. They may be wishing to have a short holiday or adventure, but they may also be aiming to learn about other countries and cultures. Some take a full 'gap-year' before starting higher education, work or apprenticeships.

  • See also volunteering later in this course

University students

Attending an international travel health conference
  • UK students often travel abroad for short elective studies commonly to North America, Australia, New Zealand or other European countries.

  • Those who are studying global or tropical subjects including medicine and nursing may travel wider afield to Africa, Asia and South or Central America.

Post-graduate studies

  • Education or research into a particular area of interest may be unavailable in the students home country.

  • Some PhD or MSc degrees require or recommend overseas research which requires experience or data gathering abroad.

  • Many people from a wide range of backgrounds travel to attend international, national or regional conferences related to their careers and special interests including travel health.

  • Sometimes for longer attachments or degree courses the host institutions will require evidence of good health in advance including a chest X-ray and documented proof of having received routine vaccinations which are routine within the country being visited.

Nurses tudying in India with a visiting teacher from abroad

Those going abroad to teach

It is quite common for those with specialised knowledge and skills to travel abroad for professional reasons.

  • They may have been invited to share their knowledge and/or experience that could be of value to their hosts.

  • The British Council has a special role in promoting education and supporting the sharing of knowledge between individuals and organisations.

Health risks distinctive to these types of trip

Those abroad for some length of time may expose themselves to new health risks related to what they are undertaking.


A student helping with rice planting may be exposed to risks such Japanese B from mosquito bites or hookworm

Many of the health risks are the same as for other travellers. However, there may be occupational risks, for example, for medical, nursing and veterinary students.

  • Research activities sometimes involve close association with the local population such as fieldwork, working with animals, charity work and caring for the sick.

  • Veterinarians may be exposed to rabid animals (if so vaccination should have been part of the pre-travel preparations)

*Health care workers may be exposed to blood-borne infections if working in laboratories or through close contact with those infected.

Comprehensive travel and health insurance for all of the above reasons is essential and the possible risks may need to be declared to the insurance company.

Those coming to the UK to study

  • Students may arrive with acute infections prevalent in their home countries and require prompt treatment.

  • Infections like malaria may be contracted during visits home when the students have lost acquired immunity without realising it.

  • Provision of a visa for entry may require evidence of good health including freedom from pulmonary tuberculosis (e.g. a chest x-ray). These requirements are available from UK Embassies and High Commissions and explained on visa application forms.

  • For healthcare workers, there may be obligatory tests to exclude blood-borne infections such as hepatitis B and HIV infection which can affect what tasks they are allowed to undertake (as for UK students)

The TRAVAX and TraveHealthPro websites can help determine health risks in the student's country of origin