International Student Advisory Service

Working in the UK

Working part time is a great way to improve your English, meet new friends and make some money to support yourself. There are some important things to consider if you are planning to work.

The Careers Service has lots of useful information and resources to help you find a part time job.

Tax

In the UK, workers pay income tax on all earnings above £10,000 per year. You will be taxed 20% on any money you earn if it is more than £11,000.

National Insurance

You will need a National Insurance (NI) number if you want to work in the UK.

Your NI number is your personal account number that records any National Insurance and income tax payments you make. It is made up of letters and numbers like this example: AB 12 34 56 C.

Your NI number will be sent to you by post. You can start work while you are waiting for it.

Immigration restrictions

Most international students are allowed to work part time while they are in the UK. There may be immigration and visa restrictions. Make sure you know about the restrictions before you look for work.

Student visitors

Work is strictly prohibited if you have a student visitor visa or stamp. This includes unpaid work, and work related to your course.

Tier 4 students

Restrictions vary during the academic session and vacation periods.

Undegraduate students                                                                                                     

Undergraduate students have vacation periods in line with the academic calendar. There are three vacation periods: winter, spring and summer vacation.

Postgraduate taught students

Taught postgraduate students have two vacation periods per year: winter and spring vacation. You do not have holidays over the summer as you are expected to study your dissertation module on a full time basis. It is important that you do not work more than 20 hours per week during that time.

Postgraduate research students

The holiday periods in the academic calendar do not apply to postgraduate research students. You are allowed to take six weeks of holidays per year. These are not fixed dates, and must be agreed and documented in advance if you wish to work more than 20 hours per week during your vacation.

Academic calendar - semester dates (University of Edinburgh)

Internships

Tier 4 students

You may only do an internship if it is an integral and assessed part of your programme. This means that:

  • It must be stated in the general programme description; and
  • The internship must be mandatory in order for you to achieve your award.

If your internship does not meet these criteria, you must follow the normal Tier 4 work restrictions.

Postgraduate research students

You are permitted to undertake an internship using your Tier 4 visa if it is an assessed and integral part of your studies, but you must remain fully enrolled as a student.

Your Tier 4 visa does not allow you to take an interruption of studies to undergo an internship. If you interrupt your studies to take up full time employment, you must seek immigration permission in the correct visa category which will allow you to undergo the work.

Work as a Sabbatical Officer

The University can sponsor you under Tier 4 to work as a Sabbatical Officer for up to 2 years. 

If your Tier 4 visa is valid for the duration of the term in office, you do not need to get another visa, but you may have to extend your visa to complete your studies. If your visa expires before the elections and you have finished your studies, you will not be able to stay in the UK. You can apply for a new Tier 4 visa to return to the UK if you are elected.

During that time, you are permitted to work full time as a Sabbatical Officer. You are also permitted to take additional work up to 20 hours per week.

Time spent working as a Sabbatical Officer does not count towards the time limits under Tier 4.

Searching for work

The Careers Service can help you find a suitable job. You can also use online job searches.