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How to Work and Study in the UK

ACAlpina ChariAug 24, 2023

How to Work and Study in the UK

The UK is one of the most popular destinations for international students who want to pursue higher education and enhance their career prospects. The UK higher education system is also known for its high quality, innovation, and research excellence, as well as its flexibility and student support. However, studying in the UK can also be quite expensive, especially with relatively higher living costs. Although there are many forms of financial aid including scholarships for international students in the UK, many students look for ways to work and study in the UK, either to support themselves financially or to gain valuable work experience in a global market.

International students make a significant contribution to the UK economy, society, and culture. According to a recent study, one year’s intake of international students at British universities generates economic activity worth 390 GBP for each person in the UK each year. Students have a bidirectional relationship with the country, in terms of contributing meaningfully to its cause and in return gaining valuable experience and independence in one of the most developed and challenging job markets in Europe.  

In this article, we will explore various aspects of working in the UK including popular jobs, employment laws, the job market landscape, and more. 

Overview of Working While Studying in the UK 

Popular Part-Time Jobs Retail, bartenders, waitstaff, administrative assistant, delivery partner, etc. 
No. of Hours Allowed During the academic year: 20 hrs/week 

During breaks: Full time 

Where to Find Jobs  University career centers, job websites, social media, job boards, etc. 
Average Pay  Minimum wage – 6.56 – 9.50 GBP per hour.

How Many Hours Can International Students Work in the UK?

International students who have a Tier 4 (General) student visa can work up to 20 hours per week during term time, and full-time during holidays. However, this visa only applies to students who are enrolled in full-time degree courses at recognized institutions. 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. Engaging in full-time work during the academic term is permissible if the work placement is both an essential and evaluated component of the course. However, it’s important to note that any work placement’s duration should not exceed 50% of the overall course length unless the course is legally mandated to include a specific work placement period surpassing this limit. Therefore, the number of hours you can work and study in the UK depends on the type of visa you have, the level and duration of your course, and the rules of your institution. Working without permission or exceeding the permitted hours can result in serious consequences, such as losing your visa or facing deportation.

While most students are allowed to work during their studies, there are certain scenarios under which they can’t partake in part-time work. Part-time students cannot undertake any work in the UK if they have a Part-time Student visa. This visa is only for students who are studying a part-time course that is equivalent to a UK bachelor’s degree or higher. 

It’s also important to note that All non-UK students are legally obliged to get a National Insurance number (NINo) once they start working in the UK. A NINo is also required to claim benefits or apply for a student loan, and can be obtained for free by calling the NINo application line. When you call, you will be asked some questions about why you need a NINo, your details, and your immigration status. You may also need to provide some documents to prove your identity and right to work or study in the UK, such as your passport, visa, biometric residence permit, or student letter.  Depending on your situation, you may be invited to an interview at a Jobcentre Plus office or asked to complete a postal application. It can take up to 4 weeks to get your NINo after you apply. You will receive a letter with your NINo once your application is processed. You can start work before you receive your NINo if you can prove you have the right to work in the UK. You should tell your employer that you have applied for a NINo and give it to them when you receive it.

Suggested Reading: How to Work and Study in Poland

Types of Part-Time Jobs for International Students in the UK

There are three primary categories of jobs available to international students in the UK while studying: on-campus jobs, off-campus jobs, and internships. 

On-campus jobs refer to part-time work opportunities available to students in the university or college campus where they study. You can obtain these roles directly from the university or from companies that it contracts to provide services on campus. Examples of on-campus jobs for international students include library assistant, gym trainer, student ambassador, student mentor, language tutor, and research assistant. These roles generally offer flexibility, so you can easily manage your job while studying.  

Off-campus jobs are work opportunities outside of the university or college campus where you study. These jobs may be in the retail, hospitality, delivery services, office administration, or freelancing industries. International students in the UK have permission to work off campus with certain limitations and prerequisites, such as obtaining the proper work visa and adhering to the maximum number of allowed working hours. Examples of off-campus jobs for international students include retail sales assistant, server, mystery shopper, product tester, etc. 

Internships: Internships offer students the chance to gain hands-on experience in their field of study while still pursuing their education. These positions can be paid or unpaid and may be offered by companies, organizations, or institutions related to the student’s academic discipline. Internships provide valuable insights into real-world applications of knowledge and often contribute to the enhancement of a student’s CV and future career prospects.

Suggested Reading: Work While Studying in Ireland: Guide for International Students

Popular Part-time Jobs for Students in the UK 

There are several popular part-time job options for students in the UK that can help them earn extra money and gain valuable work experience. Here are some common part-time job options:  

Retail: Working in retail stores, such as clothing shops, supermarkets, or electronics stores, is a popular option. Students can work as cashiers, sales associates, or stock clerks.  

Hospitality and Catering: Jobs in restaurants, cafes, and bars are also common. Students can work as servers, baristas, or kitchen assistants.  

Customer Service: Many companies hire students for customer service roles, which can include answering phones, responding to emails, or providing support through online chat.  

Tutoring: If a student excels in a particular subject, they can offer tutoring services to other students who may need help. 

Administrative and Office Jobs: Students can find part-time positions as receptionists, data entry clerks, or office assistants.  

Delivery Driver: With the rise of online shopping, there’s a demand for part-time delivery drivers for food delivery services, courier companies, or even grocery delivery services.  

Event Staff: Students can work as event staff for concerts, sports events, conferences, and other gatherings. Duties might include ticket checking, crowd management, or assisting with setup and cleanup.  

Freelancing and Online Gigs: Students with skills in writing, graphic design, programming, or other areas can find freelance opportunities online.  

Fitness and Leisure: Working in gyms, sports centers, or leisure facilities as a fitness instructor, lifeguard, or front desk attendant is another option.  

Campus Jobs: Many universities offer on-campus part-time job opportunities, such as working at the library, student center, or administrative offices.  

Childcare: Babysitting or working in daycare centers can be a good option for students who enjoy working with children.  

Tourism and Hospitality: If you’re in a city with tourist attractions, you might find part-time work as a tour guide or in visitor information centers.  

Promotional Work: Some companies hire students to promote their products or services at events or in busy public spaces.  

Retail Merchandising: Students can assist in setting up displays and arranging products in retail stores.  

Research Assistants: In academic settings, students might find opportunities to work as research assistants for professors or departments.

However, there are certain restrictions to working while studying. Specifically, certain job activities are prohibited while you are a student in the UK. Here are some job categories (whether paid or unpaid) that you aren’t allowed to pursue while holding a Tier 4 visa:  

  • Operating as a self-employed individual or working as a freelancer. 
  • Launching a business.
  • Taking up a full-time permanent position.
  • Engaging in professional sports, including coaching. 
  • Pursuing work as an entertainer. 
  • Practicing as a dentist or undergoing training as a doctor, except if you are enrolled in a foundation program.

Suggested Reading: Work While Studying in Canada: International Students’ Guide

How Much Can a Student Earn in the UK?

Most part-time jobs for students pay around the minimum wage, but some might offer slightly higher rates based on the nature of the work and the location. If a student has specialized skills or experience, they might be able to earn more. This could apply to roles such as tutoring, freelance writing, graphic design, or programming. Earnings can vary widely based on demand and skill level. It’s also important to note that earnings can be influenced by the location in the UK. Larger cities with higher costs of living, like London, might offer slightly higher wages to compensate.

The minimum wage for international students depends on their age and the type of work they do. As of April 2023, the minimum wage rates are 9.50 GBP per hour for workers aged 23 and over, 8.91 GBP per hour for workers aged 21 to 22, and 6.56 GBP per hour for workers aged 18 to 20. These rates apply to most workers in the UK, including part-time students. However, there are some exceptions and exemptions for certain types of work, such as apprenticeships, internships, or voluntary work. According to Glassdoor, the average salary for a part-time student in the UK is 22,007 GBP per year, or about 1,834 GBP per month, which is nothing to scoff at! The average additional cash compensation for a part-time student in the UK is 1,261 GBP per year or about 105 GBP per month. This includes tips, bonuses, and overtime pay.  However, this average salary may not reflect the reality for most students, as it may be skewed by outliers or high-paying jobs. 

As an International student, your income might be taxable if it exceeds a limit, categorized as a personal allowance. The amount of Income Tax you pay depends on your income and your tax code. You have to pay Income Tax if you earn more than 1,042 GBP a month on average. Your employer will usually deduct Income Tax from your wages through the Pay As You Earn (PAYE) scheme. Similarly, you also have to apply and pay for National Insurance, which entitles you to certain benefits such as the State Pension, Jobseeker’s Allowance, or Maternity Allowance. You have to pay National Insurance if you earn more than 190 GBP a week. The amount of National Insurance you pay depends on your earnings and your National Insurance category. Your employer will usually deduct National Insurance from your wages through PAYE.

Suggested Reading: How To Work While Studying in Germany

Finding Jobs for International Students in the UK

Finding suitable job opportunities for students in the UK requires a hands-on approach. Here are some tips for finding part-time jobs as an international student in the UK: 

Update Your CV: Tailor your CV to the UK format. Highlight your relevant skills, education, and any previous work experience. If you have any volunteering, internships, or extracurricular activities, include them as well. Write a personalized cover letter and ensure your CV reflects the skills and experiences relevant to the job.  

  University Resources: Most universities in the UK have dedicated career services that can assist you in finding part-time jobs. They can help you with CV writing, interview preparation, and connecting with potential employers. Visit your university’s career center or check their website for job listings.  

Online Job Portals: Utilize online job search platforms such as Indeed, Totaljobs, Reed, and Gumtree. Use relevant keywords, location filters, and job categories to narrow down your search. Many part-time job listings specify their suitability for students.  

University Job Boards: Check if your university has a job board where local businesses and employers post part-time job opportunities specifically for students.  

Networking: Attend university events, career fairs, and workshops to connect with employers and professionals in your field. Networking can often lead to hidden job opportunities. 

Local Businesses: Visit local businesses, cafes, restaurants, and shops to inquire about part-time job openings. Some employers prefer to hire in person or through word-of-mouth referrals.  

Student Unions and Societies: Check if your university’s student union or various societies offer part-time job listings. They might have connections with local businesses looking to hire students.

Language Skills: Strong English language skills are crucial for most part-time jobs. Improve your language skills if necessary to enhance your communication and understanding of job requirements.  

Volunteering: Consider volunteering opportunities, as they can also provide valuable experience, references, and networking opportunities.  

Follow Employment Laws: Ensure that any job you consider complies with UK employment laws, such as minimum wage requirements, working hours, and employment contracts.  

Be Persistent: The job search process might take time, especially if you’re aiming for a specific type of role. Be persistent and patient in your efforts.  

Suggested Reading: Part-time Jobs for International Students in the Netherlands [With Salaries]

Conclusion 

In conclusion, it is challenging yet extremely rewarding to work and study in the UK.  As an international student, you have the chance to not only excel academically but also to immerse yourself in the vibrant cultural tapestry of the UK while gaining valuable work experience. However, it’s essential to stay updated on any changes in the regulations and seek advice from universities or relevant authorities. By staying proactive and adaptable, you can make the most of your time in the UK.  For more information regarding how to study and work in the UK, feel free to reach out to our admission counseling experts at Gyanberry. Schedule your free video call now!

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Frequently Asked Questions

Yes, international students can work part-time during term time and full-time during breaks, subject to visa restrictions.

International students can explore on-campus roles like library assistants, mentors, or tutors, as well as off-campus positions in retail, hospitality, and more. 

Yes, it depends on your visa type. Tier 4 visa holders can generally work up to 20 hours per week during term time and full-time during vacations.

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