Background The Human Papillomavirus (HPV) is a causal agent in a subset of Head and Neck Cancers (HNC) being diagnosed in younger patients without significant tobacco and alcohol use. This survey assessed the awareness level of HNC and HPV vaccinations in university students. Methods An anonymous, questionnaire-based survey of registered students of the National University of Ireland, Galway (NUIG) was carried out. Results 1,550 responded, 1,494 completed the survey; 1,018 female (68.1%), 476 male (31.9%). 63% had never heard the term HNC. 45% had never heard the term HPV. 69% were unaware of how one would be exposed to HPV. 84% were unaware of the association between HNC and HPV. Conclusions There are poor levels of awareness of HNC, HPV and HPV vaccination. HPV vaccination needs to be appreciated as a major cancer breakthrough. However the public health benefits of increased awareness of HPV, HNC and HPV vaccination have yet to be realised.