Working while studying in the UK

Stepping into the job market is hard, let alone in a new country while pursuing your education. Here we provide all the info to go in prepared to work while studying.

One of the key things that prospective international students search for is, "Can international students work part-time in the UK?" Many students go on to take up internships and jobs while studying. It is a great way to get a lot of experience in the job market all the while earning some money. 

Outline:

What is the eligibility criteria to work while studying in the UK

Your eligibility to work as a student lies with two separate bodies – the UK Government and your university.

As per the government, you need to check the following to be eligible:

  • You need to be above the age of 16.
  • You need to have a UK student visa.
  • Your visa should be sponsored by an institution that is licensed to sponsor migrant student. 

For a list of top licensed university sponsors check https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/register-of-licensed-sponsors-students

Furthermore, you should be sure of the strict restrictions and guidelines that you need to follow while working in the UK. Violating these restrictions can lead to issues with your immigration status.

Universities have their own set of rules to help international students adapt to the part-time work environment in the UK. Some universities restrict the number of hours a student can work, and some universities only allow their students to work on-campus. You need to check with your university before you start your job search. If you are still shortlisting universities, you can refer to the university's website for their guidelines on part-time jobs.

How many hours will you be permitted to work?

If you are pursuing a full-time graduate or undergraduate degree in the UK, you can work for 20 hours a week during your term time. 

If you are pursuing any course below the degree level like a diploma or a foundational course, you can work for 10 hours a week during term time.

You will also be permitted to work full time during work placements and vacations.

It is important to note that these are just the guidelines of the student visa. Universities can restrict the number of work hours for students. 

What are the types of jobs available to students?

You will have many opportunities and many jobs to pick from and pursue. We can generally put them under the following categories. 

  • Part-time jobs

While it is preferable to take a part-time job that is related to your core studies, you have other options to explore as well. Many places, like fast-food restaurants and retail stores, will happily employ students on a part-time basis. 

  • On-campus jobs

Surprisingly there are a lot of non-academic jobs that you can take up in your University campus. Assisting the IT department, university daycare, working in the cafeteria are just a few examples.

Some universities even offer academic jobs on campus – Teacher's Assistant (TA) and Research Assistant (RA). TAs and RAs are picked after the first semester based on grades and class performance. So if you have your eyes set on these jobs, you need to perform well in class. TAs help out the teachers and sometimes even teach some of their basic classes. RAs helps out teachers and scholars by researching topics assigned to them.

  • Paid internships

During your semester breaks, universities will encourage you to take up internships in your field of studies. Most of these internships will pay and give you a look into the job space you are aiming to occupy after graduation. 

Some examples of job roles that are not allowed

International students like yourself are not allowed to pursue the following roles. 

  • Starting a business/ self-employed
  • Joining an organisation on a full-term permanent contract
  • Working in the entertainment or the sports industry
  • Working in a statutory role
  • Working in a company where you own upwards of 10% in shares

Don't worry if one of these jobs is in your area of interest. You can prep during your studies and pursue them after graduation. The UK government offers up to 2 years of post-study work permit (PSWP) for international students.

How to find work opportunities

  • Getting help from your university

All universities will have placement support and student support offices that help students look for jobs. Despite all this support, it can be a bit intimidating, so we suggest you do the following.

Step 1: Write a professional CV with a clear objective statement. You can reach out to the placement support offices to come up with a professional CV as well.

Step 2: Research the available jobs and shortlist the ones that you like.

Step 3: Now that you are prepared, go ahead and talk to student counsellors for guidance and then apply.

  • Scouting for jobs in your local area

Major student cities have many businesses you could work in. They are often used to working with students and are going to be understanding so, there is no need to be nervous. We would advise you to:

  1. Take a walk around the city and look for shops/companies that are looking for part-time employees; go in and offer your services.
  2. Talk to your university's senior students; they will have more insight into the jobs and the employers as well.
    • Applying for jobs through networking sites 

    Using job networking sites is an excellent choice if you like variety. You can look for all sorts of jobs through professional networking sites. Create your profile, search for jobs that interest you and apply. Here we have listed a few websites that you can use:

    • LinkedIn
    • Indeed
    • Totaljobs
    • Monster

      Pros and cons of working while studying 

      Pros

      • You can start earning money.
      • You can gain insight into the workings of a real workplace.
      • You can learn to work with other people.
      • You can gain work experience; this will stand out on your CV.
      • You can develop contacts by networking with the people you meet through your part-time jobs. Such networking will come in handy when you start to look for employment after graduation.

      Cons

      • It can be stressful to handle a full-time education and a part-time job.
      • Time management might be a struggle.