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The basics
THE UK: Career Prospects

Finding a graduate career in the UK

Learn all about life after graduation for international students in the UK

Graduate Medical student

The university experience has so many benefits. From being able to live somewhere completely new and getting your first taste of independence to meeting new people from all over the world and making lasting friendships, there is so much it has to offer. 


Often the biggest reason you may have chosen to study at university is the potential career benefits a degree can give you. Whether you just want to learn more about a topic you’re passionate about or have a specific job in mind that requires a certain degree, most students are there  to support their future goals


International students come to the UK for what the higher education sector has to offer. This includes the incredible universities and the cultural experience cities in the UK provide. This makes it a very attractive study abroad destination.  


If you are one of these students looking to study in the UK or are just about to finish your course in the country, you're probably wondering what a graduate career could look like. We explain the options and what you can expect.  


What is a graduate career? 


A graduate career involves any job role that requires a degree in general or in that specific field. While many businesses only take degrees relevant to a specific role, others just like to know that you have that level of education. They aren’t too concerned about the specifics of your degree. 


It’s often when applying for a graduate job that postgraduates start to feel the benefits of their degree. You begin to realise how many positions require an undergraduate degree to be considered for a role. 


Find out more about universities in the UK where you can study.  


How do you stay in the UK for work? 


As a graduate of a university in the UK, you can apply for a graduate visa if you wish to find work in the country. You can transition from a student visa to a graduate visa by applying to the UK Home Office. You must be present in the UK to make this application. You can't apply for a graduate visa from overseas. 


The qualifying criteria for a UK graduate visa are: 


  • Successful completion of a higher education course or degree with a T-4 student visa. 

  • Your length of study in the UK 

  • Must be a minimum of 12 months  

  • You must have studied in the UK and not online (COVID-19) concessions are available in certain circumstances 

  • The type of qualification you obtained  

  • Foundation programme in medicine or dentistry 

  • Postgraduate Certificate in Education  

  • Postgraduate Diploma in Education  

  • The accreditation of your chosen institution 


A UK graduate visa allows you to stay in the UK for at least another two years, giving you plenty of time to pursue your career goals within the country.  


If you find yourself in a career that you love and want to continue working in the UK after the end of your graduate visa, you can apply for a work visa to stay longer. Remember that not all work visas are the same, and you must check which would suit your situation best. Some of the more common work visas international students apply for include: 


  • Skilled worked visa  

  • Health and care worker visa  

  • Intra-company visa  

  • Innovator visa  

  • Entrepreneur visa 

  • Global talent visa 


Graduate careers in the UK 


Jobs that require a degree in the UK make up almost 25 per cent of total roles in the country. This is a little higher than comparable countries like the US and Australia. This can mean more opportunities for international students looking to stay.  


Some of the areas of growth in the UK economy and roles with skills shortages include: 


  • Chemical science 

  • Biological science  

  • Physical science  

  • Geophysicists  

  • Geoscientists 

  • Geochemists 

  • Hydrogeologist 


You can apply for roles directly or as part of a graduate scheme. Graduate schemes are offered by companies all over the UK and help you to access an entry-level role. Having experience in an industry and a foot in the door with a company can help kickstart your career. 


You may be familiar with some of the top graduate employers in the UK (The Times Top 100 Graduate Employers): 


  • Deloitte  

  • NHS 

  • Google 

  • KPMG 

  • Unilever  

  • HSBC  

  • Barclays  

  • Amazon 

  • Rolls Royce  

  • Accenture  


Find a scholarship to help you finance your studies in the UK.  



How do you find a graduate role in the UK? 


When it comes to finding the right role in the UK, starting as early as possible gives you a great head start. If you’re currently still doing or planning your degree, this may seem like just more work for you to do, but it can pay off in the long run. 


Even if you’re not in the position to apply for roles yet if you see an available role that you would be interested in, why not email the company, and make yourself known? By even just introducing yourself and asking if they can let you know about future roles, you are potentially getting a head start to apply when that time comes. They may also have internship or work placement opportunities available.  


Starting early can also be very useful to find out what you want to do. There may be several avenues for you to go down regarding a career. Finding out what you may be interested in before you start applying for work means you are ready to begin looking as soon as you graduate. A careers office or education counsellor can help you with this process.  


It’s important to utilise what your university has to offer you while you can too. It’s common in the UK for a university to have an individual or whole department dedicated to helping students with career advice and guidance. It’s easy to get so caught up in your degree that you forget to take advantage of other services your university has to offer. 


Use this as an opportunity to think about how you want to map your career and study path. Investigate the skills potential employers are looking for. This is never time wasted.  


Finally, remind yourself that you won’t find the career of your dreams overnight. It can take time. Starting early and accessing any help available to you can be a great boost, but don’t be disappointed if you can’t find a great role straight away. The UK is a hub of incredible jobs in hundreds of fields. Finding a career that suits you is more than a possibility when given time. 


For more advice on life after university, take a look at our article on post-study life

Study in the UK


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