Study and Work in the UK – All You Need to Know

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The United Kingdom is one of the most expensive countries to live in. Studying in the UK is expensive, especially if you’re not under a scholarship or research grant. Luckily, there are many available options to make your education mission in the UK a fruitful one, like other study destinations in the world. There are many scholarship opportunities and student loan systems that can offer you the required financial assistance needed to complete your studies in the UK.

More so, international students are allowed to work in the UK while studying to help them earn extra cash that will support them financially. As an international student in the UK, you’re allowed to work for an average of 20 hours per week during session time and full-time during holidays. However, there are many restrictions and regulations you must abide by to be allowed to work in the UK.

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Eligibility to Work in the UK

Your eligibility to work in the United Kingdom as a student depends on two main restrictions: those set by state-run official institutions and those set by your chosen university. First, you must ensure that your chosen university supports international students working while studying before dealing with the state officials. For instance, depending on your course of study, your university might have set rules limiting your working hours in addition to the governmental restrictions.

Part-time Jobs

In the UK, especially in big cities like London, it is very easy for international students to find part-time jobs. Some universities even allow international students to work on campus. There are many job options available for international students. Before searching for any part-time job, you must first check to see if you’re eligible to apply for such a position. It first begins with having the right Tier 4 visa (the official student visa in the UK).


If you’re under 16 years old, you’re generally not qualified to work in the UK. These restrictions are only for students coming from non-EU/EEA countries. All international students from EU/EEA countries can work in the UK without any limitation.

All limitations and conditions are duly stated on your Tier 4 vignette (sticker), including the number of hours you can work during your study session. Kindly go through all the conditions thoroughly. Furthermore, when receiving your residence permit paperwork, a letter attached will give you more information about whether you can work or not while studying in the UK.

If any of the following is stated in your letter, then you can work in the UK while studying:

  • Restricted work time
  • Work must be authorized
  • Restricted job: Part-time during term-time, Full-time during vacations
  • Able to work as permitted by the Secretary of State
  • Restricted as in Tier 4 Rules
  • Work as per the Tier 4 Rules
  • Work limited to 10 hours per week at maximum during term-time
  • Work limited to 20 hours per week at maximum during term-time

Your international passport’s sticker may say something different from the above options. Still, no worries; if it does not mention “no work” or “work prohibited,” then you are eligible to work.

If you don’t understand the conditions stated on your paperwork, you can contact the immigration office for more clarification before taking any further steps to look for jobs.

More so, if you decide to change your course or pursue a higher degree, you may need to initiate a new immigration application. Before you receive a response from the new application process, it is advisable to stick to the old immigration status to avoid unnecessary case scenarios.

How Many Hours Are You Allowed to Work Per Week?

The number of hours you’re permitted to work in the UK as an international student depends on the kind and nature of the course you’re pursuing. Here are details on the number of hours you can work in the UK with respect to the nature and type of work you’re taking

Work Hours Per Week

20 hours per week

  • A full-time bachelor’s or master’s degree program at a recognized higher education institution
  • A short-term course

10 hours per week

  • A full-time study below degree level
  • Any course where the student is below 18 years old and is using a Tier 4 child visa

Students not Allowed to Work While Studying in the UK

  • Students offering a part-time postgraduate program
  • Students studying in colleges of education at whatever level
  • Students taking any course at a private higher education institution
  • Students below the age of 16 offering any course with a Tier 4 child visa

In the UK, you’ll face lots of limitations, particularly on the number of hours you can work. This depends on some factors, including the type of Tier 4 sponsor you’re studying at and the type of course you’re taking. Full-time students only get to work for a maximum of 20 hours per week, whether it’s a paid job or not. One of the main limitations of this rule is that you can’t average a week in the period of time set because there is a legal definition of the week. And based on the set rule, a week is a period from Sunday to Monday to Sunday.

Types of Jobs You’re Not Allowed to Do as a Student in the UK

After you make sure you’re permitted to work in the UK as your study, the next thing you need to deal with is how to abide by the strict regulations set in place. One such rule is the type of job you’re permitted to do and the ones you’re not allowed to do as a student. The truth of the matter is that there are specific jobs you’re not allowed to do while studying in the UK, based on the law. If you default on this, you can be deported back to your home country.

Here are some of the jobs you’re not permitted to engage in while holding a Tier 4 visa as a student in the UK

  • Working freelance or being self-employed
  • Work as an entertainer
  • Professional sportspersons, including sports coach
  • Full-time permanent job
  • Initiate a business activity
  • Work as a medical doctor or dentist in training, except you’re enrolled in a foundation program

Types of Jobs Available for Students in the UK

On a general note, the primary function of a student visa in the UK is to serve as leverage for you to study without any limitation. Although it is explicitly designed to allow you to study in the country, it can also allow you to work within a specific time frame. However, you must understand that the reason and extent to which you’re allowed to work are for your professional gain and to support your finances. The government set these limitations to ensure you’re not losing track of your original intention of studying while working. If not, you can easily focus more on your job and making money than on your studies. Therefore, you must note that these restrictions are not a punishment or a form of racism for not being a citizen.

Furthermore, if work placement is compulsory for your study course, then there is a time when you have permission to work. This is less than 33% of the whole duration of your course. However, there is a certain exemption to this rule if:

  • You are a Tier 4 (child) that is 16 or older. You have permission to work up to 50% of the total length of your studies.
  • Your study course is part of a study abroad program, and it’s at RQF 6 or SCQF levels. You have permission to work up to 50% of the total length of your studies.
  • Your study course is in a recognized higher education institution, and it’s at RQF 6 or SCQF 9. You can work up to 50% of the total length of your studies.

Work placement is an integral part of most study courses in British higher education institutions, and there’s a UK statutory requirement that allows you to exceed set limits.


As an international student, you may be clueless as to how the UK labor market operates, and it may be hard trying to figure out the kind of jobs you can engage in without violating the laws. There are many student jobs you can engage in within the strict regulations set by the government.

Most international students feel less of themselves, especially when searching for part-time jobs, because they feel they don’t have enough skills to land a good part-time job as students. The truth of the matter is that most of the part-time jobs available for students do not require a special skill or qualification. More so, regardless of how difficult the task you will be assigned to do in your job placement as a student, you’ll always receive further direction and instructions from your employers on how to carry out the task.

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Jobs in the UK

If you’re wondering about the type of jobs you can do as an international student in the UK to earn more cash, we’ve got you covered. We have compiled a long list of some of the possible jobs you can engage in. Here are some  

  • Student Support officer
  • Gardener
  • Sports Facilities Worker
  • Admission Officer
  • Physiotherapy Assistant
  • Personal Assistant
  • Veterinary care assistant
  • Pizza Delivery Driver
  • Pharmacy Delivery Driver
  • Sales assistant
  • Finance Assistant
  • Enrollment advisor
  • Promotional worker
  • Residence Guider
  • Facilities Assistant
  • Receptionist
  • Waitress
  • Freelance translator
  • Customer Assistant
  • Blogger
  • Graphic designer
  • Cashier
  • Bartender
  • Smoothie Maker
  • Host at a Restaurant
  • Ice Cream Scooper
  • Personal Tutor
  • Photographer
  • Newspaper distributor
  • Social Media Assistant
  • Security guard
  • Fitness instructor
  • IT Assistant
  • Brand Ambassador
  • Software Developer Intern
  • Babysitter
  • House Cleaner
  • Bookseller
  • Pet caretaker
  • Tour Guide
  • Waitress at the university cafeteria
  • Research Assistant

Study Visa in the UK

All international students who wish to study in the UK must obtain a student visa known as Tier 4 Visa. This visa can only be granted to students who want to pursue full-time degree programs in the UK. It is not granted to students who want to pursue language courses or short-term courses.

You can start the application process for the visa at least three months before the commencement of your degree program. Once you have been successfully offered admission to a British University, you’ll receive an admission confirmation number called the CAS number. This CAS number proves that you’re an accepted student at the designated institution and further qualifies you for a study visa in the UK.

You cannot complete your student visa application without the CAS number; therefore, you must ensure you get it from your chosen institution before applying for the student visa. The admission requirements for each university differ; hence you must confirm with your chosen university to know what their admission requirements are.

How to Work In the UK After Studies

Among the many reasons why the UK continues to attract international students is the high quality of education, good employment prospects after graduation, and the high quality of life. All international students in the UK live in the country with a few restrictions.

As soon as you graduate from the UK as an international student, you need to switch your student visa to a work-related visa if you wish to stay back and work. However, the laws have made it tougher for international students to stay back and work after their graduation. In 2012, the UK government scrapped the post-study, which allowed International students to stay back in the UK and work for up to two years while looking for a befitting job opportunity related to their course of study.

International students were only allowed to stay for four months after completing their course to look for a job. They are only allowed to stay back after the four-month window period if they secure a job that pays at least £20,800 per annum. However, in September 2019, the UK government announced its plan to go back to the earlier policy where international students are allowed to stay for up to 2 years after their graduation. However, this new policy will only apply to all students who start an undergraduate program or above in the UK from 2020 and beyond.

Visa Options in the UK Explained

When it comes to applying for a visa, there are many options available. You need to carefully read through the process of each to determine which is best for you. Although you’re expected to apply for a work-related visa after you graduate, it is advisable to start planning in your final semester. It takes a long time for work-related visas to be processed. You can find a comprehensive list of the various kinds of visas on the UK government website, but most graduates apply for three major visas. They include:

Tier 2

This is the main type of visa foreign graduates in the UK like to apply for. To qualify for this visa, you need to find a job with an employer who is willing to pay you a net salary of at least £20,800 per annum, and depending on the nature of the job, this figure should rise later. Furthermore, the employer needs to prove that they have advertised the job offer and were unable to get a qualified UK applicant for the job before offering it to a foreign student applicant.

Obtaining a Tier 2 Visa can be a bit difficult if you wish to stay in the UK after your graduation. This is because most employers would not even consider an international student. Be prepared for disappointments, as most companies you’ll apply for will not even reply to you.

How to increase your chances of getting a Tier 2 Visa

The good news is that there are many things you can do to improve your chances of getting a Tier 2 visa. The secret is that you need to successfully find a certified employer who will sponsor you for the Tier 2 visa after you graduate.

Here are some tips that will help you out

1. Part-Time Job/Placements

If you want to stand out in the UK graduate job market, you need to obtain work experience in addition to your degree. Getting part-time jobs or internship placement linked to your degree can help you develop the required skills that employers seek in applicants. If opportunities are scarce and highly competitive, you can reach out to companies related to your field of study and offer to volunteer. Volunteering is a great way to gather work experience

2. Entrepreneurial skills

Having one or two entrepreneurial skills makes your CV impressive and worth reading. Entrepreneurial knowledge is not only useful to those who wish to be their own boss: most employers value them too. Many universities offer courses and programs related to entrepreneurship, therefore take advantage of such programs to boost your experience.

3. Language skills

Having the ability to communicate in more than one foreign language can increase your chances of landing a befitting job in the UK. First of all, if you do not have a high level of proficiency in the native English language, you need to have one to stand out in the UK job market. Work on your language skills while studying, and take extra language classes if you have to.

Start-up Visa

Another common visa international students apply for is the Start-up visa, which has replaced the former Tier 1 visa (Graduate entrepreneur), which is no longer available in the UK.

To be eligible for the start-up visa, you need an endorsement from a business organization with a track record of supporting entrepreneurs in the UK or a UK higher education institution. Additionally, you also need to prove that you have a valid business idea that is viable, new, and innovative. Go to the UK government website to get more details about the requirements for a start-up visa.

You can apply for the Sirius Program- a 12-month intensive program that supports young entrepreneurs across the globe. They can sponsor over 65 visas for passionate young people who wish to be entrepreneurs in the UK.

Tier 5 Youth Mobility Scheme

The third most common visa used by International students in the UK is the Tier 5 Youth Mobility Scheme. To be eligible for this visa you need to be 18 years and above; furthermore, you must come from Taiwan, the Republic of Korea, New Zealand, Monaco, Japan, Hong Kong, Canada, or Australia. The regions eligible for this type of visa are limited, and you must have a minimum of £1,890 in a savings account to apply. With the Tier 5 Youth Mobility Scheme, you can stay and work in the UK for two years; however, the visa cannot be extended.

Finally, there is no doubt that studying and working in the UK can be a little bit tough. But we’ve also seen that it is not impossible. With the right tips and options shared in this post, you’ll find it easy to do it. Your University career office is a great place to go for more information and advice on how to go about finding a job in the UK.

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