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The basics
THE UK: Once you arrive

Working as a student in the UK

Our guide to work options for international students studying in the UK...

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In the UK, the amount of students working whilst they study has increased by more than half from 1996-2006. As an international student, in some cases you’ll be able to undertake part-time work whilst you study abroad in the UK. Many students use this work allowance to offset some of their living costs, or complete certain types of work experience in their field. Either way, your income will not be enough for you to support yourself whilst you study, so you’ll need sufficient funds to last the duration of your study programme. It’s important you’re clear on the conditions under which you’re able to work so that you can maintain your visa status.


Let our breakdown of your working options as an international student in the UK help make things clear.



Can I work?

Whether you’re able to work or not will depend on your country of origin and which student visa you have. There are no working restrictions on EU students studying in the UK.


If you are a non-EU student and your study programme is longer than six months, you will need a Tier 4 (General) Student Visa. In most cases this visa will enable you to undertake up to 20 hours of part time work during semester, and full time work during semester breaks. If you are completing a programme below Degree level, i.e. Bachelor or Masters, excluding a Foundation Degree then you will be able to complete up to 10 hours of part time work during semester and full time during breaks.


Check if you are an EU student


Learn more about visa conditions whilst working as a student in the UK







What kind of work can I do?

You will be allowed to do most kinds of work except run a business, be self-employed or take a permanent career vacancy. You also won’t be allowed to work as a professional sportsperson or entertainer on a student visa. Typically then, students will work part time in hospitality or retail sectors. Students should note that whilst some students may earn more, the national minimum wage is £6.50 (US$ 10.80) per hour.


Students wishing to volunteer or complete unpaid internships should check with the organisation whether the work is regarded as unpaid employment or not. If it is, then it will count towards their allowance of maximum work hours per week.


Once you’ve obtained employment, you’ll need to get a National Insurance Number and may need to pay income tax to the UK government.


Learn more about unpaid work, internships and volunteering

Learn more about NIN and income tax



What do students usually work as?

As well as working part-time in service sectors, such as in retail or hospitality, there are a number of employment options for students in the UK. The average wage for a job in service positions is about £7 (US$ 11.60) per hour.



Sometimes, big companies pay selected students to represent their brand at their university. This usually means you’ll need to put up posters advertising the company, run events to promote their services and find other ways to endorse them to other students. You might either be paid a fixed fee or receive an hourly salary, depending on the kind of work you’ll be asked to do.


Some universities, such as King’s College London, University of London have a student careers service that advertises job vacancies for students whilst studying, as well as offering students the chance to work at the university itself through its Student’s Union, fundraising teams or student ambassador scheme.



Private Tutor

Students can also offer private tutoring services to other students, or students at a local school or community. This is often a popular choice for students that are speakers of a foreign language, who can provide English speakers with conversation and tutelage in their native tongue. There are a number of agencies such as Bright Young Things that recruit student tutors, or you can respond directly to advertisements placed on university job-boards. You can even advertise your services privately.



Manual Labour

You will also have the option to capitalise on your practical skills and undertake work as a labourer whilst you study. These sorts of jobs might range from work as a painter, gardener, cleaner, or heavy-goods mover, and generally pay a bit better, at around £7.50- £12 (US$ 12.45 – US$ 20) per hour, than jobs in the service sector. However, these types of jobs are physically demanding and are often located far away from city centres and university campuses.



Specialist Skills

Depending on your specific skill set, you might want to complete one-off freelance projects or jobs to get experience in your field. These sorts of positions are generally advertised privately, or on online job boards such as studentgems.com. They are also often advertised on university job boards where employers are seeking candidates with industry or area-specific knowledge and skills. Pay and hours depend directly on the type of project.



Work Experience

Students will also often complete unpaid work experience programmes, internships or volunteer work that may or may not count as unpaid employment. Many students will complete internships and placements during the summer break between semesters. You should always check with the organisation offering you the employment whether it will count towards your work allowance or not: in some cases it may not, and you’ll be able to complete additional work with another employer. If these programmes are offered as part of your Degree or Foundation studies then they will NOT be counted as employment, and will NOT detract from your maximum weekly work allowance.



How can I find work?

You can search for jobs online using any number of job websites, or look to your university’s career centre to point you in the right direction. There are a number of student job boards such as StudentJob and jobsite.co.uk, as well as locally advertised recruitment agencies, newspapers and private advertising that could be anything from a sign in the window to word of mouth. It’s also acceptable in the UK to walk into an establishment and ask politely if they have any positions vacant. If you choose to do so, be sure to have a hard copy of your CV on hand.



Now that you’ve got a handle on your working options whilst studying abroad in the UK, why not browse courses in the UK now and start planning your international adventure?



Useful Links

'Visa conditions for working while studying in the UK'

'Post-study work options for international students'

Study in the UK


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