Page:Working in the UK during your studies

Working in the UK during your studies

 Last modified: 16/08/16  

This information is for students from outside the European Economic Area. Most international students are allowed to work in the UK during their studies without needing to get permission to do so. There are however very strict rules or conditions on the type of work and hours you are allowed to do. Please seek advice if your queries are not answered by this information.

What are my rights to work in the UK during my studies?

You are allowed to work in the UK without needing permission during your studies provided you have one of the following stamps in your passport or similar wording on your Biometric Residence Card (BRP):

  • Work (and any changes) must be authorised
  • Able to work as authorised by the Secretary of State
  • Work as in Tier 4 Rules
  • Restricted Work. P/T term time. F/T vacations
  • Restricted work term time

If your passport or BRP card states No Work you must not do any work.

What work can I do during my studies?

You can take any job provided it is not a permanent full time role. You may also be able to do work placements/internships or work on a voluntary basis.

You must not set up a business or work on a self employed basis. This also means you must not do any work on a freelance basis.  The immigration rules do not allow you to take part in any business activity which includes working for a company in which you have a financial or significant beneficial interest.

If you are at all unsure about your rights to work please seek advice.

What hours can I work?

a) Term time

You cannot work more than 20 hours during term-time. It is important if you have more than one job you do not exceed the total number of hours even for one week.  You should check when your employer's week starts and ends as this can vary across employers.  If you do work more than 20 hours during term time this would be a breach of your conditions and you may face serious penalties or even removal from the UK. 

If you are on a course below degree level which lasts for 12 months you will only be allowed to work a maximum of 10 hours during term time.

Undergraduates: You are allowed to work unlimited hours during the University vacations.  These are defined as the dates of undergraduate vacations.  For current vacation dates please check:

Taught postgraduates: You can work full time during the Christmas and Easter vacation.  You cannot work full time in the summer vacation until you have completed all examinations and submitted your dissertation.

Research postgraduates: You are allowed 8 weeks vacation each academic year during which you could work full-time.

Proving your rights to work to your employer

New regulations require all employers to get proof of your term dates.  You need to provide:

1.      Certificate of student status (available from SSiD) AND

2.      Print out of this web page which confirms your term dates:

You may also find it helpful to send them a link to our Guide for Employers which explains your rights to work.

How do I get a National Insurance number?

Every person who works in the UK must have an National Insurance number.  However, you do not need an NI number to start work.  You can get help from the University's Job Shop in getting your NI number.

Can I continue to work when I am waiting for the Home Office to process my visa extension application?

If you applying for an extension for further studies you are allowed to continue to work under your student conditions until such time as you have a decision otherwise.  If you have problems proving this to your employer please seek advice from one of our International Advisers.

Am I allowed to work full time if I finish my course early?

If you transfer to a shorter degree your Tier 4 visa will be curtailed and you will no longer be allowed to work. Please seek advice if you are in this situation.

What happens if I take a leave of absence or withdraw from my course?

You will not be allowed to work during this period as you are not studying.

I have been offered a work placement, can I do this?

You can do any  work placement during your vacation period (check the different vacation periods for your level of study).

If you want to do a placement during term time this is possible provided it meets all the following criteria:

·        it must be a requirement of your course and must not account for more than 50% of the total length of the course

·        it must be an assessed part of your course

·        It must not extend beyond the end of your course.

There is an exception for students on Postgraduate Certificate in Education (PGCE) courses.

If your course does not currently contain a work placement and you want to convert it to a Degree with Employment Experience you will need to return home to apply for a fresh Tier 4 CAS before you can start the placement. 

If you want to do a work placement after your studies please check out our information here.  You should also look at the information provided by the Careers Service.