Student Immigration Service

Working in the UK during studies

If you are from a non-EU/EEA country or Switzerland, there will be restrictions on the amount and type of work you do in the UK.

Students from the EU, EEA and Switzerland

You don’t need to apply for permission to work in the UK during your studies. However, your employer will probably ask you for proof of where you’re from. Your passport or national ID card will normally be sufficient.

Tier 4 students

Tier 4 visas impose strict restrictions on working in the UK. If you hold a Tier 4 visa, you must adhere to these restrictions.

Your entry clearance vignette (visa sticker in your passport) or your Biometric Residence Permit (BRP) will tell you if you are allowed to work.

What work am I allowed to do?

If you are studying a full time programme at the University of Edinburgh, your Tier 4 visa should allow you to work in the UK. You will be permitted to work:

  • 20 hours in any given week during term time if you are studying a full-time programme at degree level and above; OR
  • 10 hours in any given week during term time if you are studying a full-time programme below degree level
  • Full time during vacation periods and after your programme end date (until your visa expires) 
  • On an integral and assessed work placement as part of your studies
  • As a sabbatical officer in a Students’ Union for up to 2 years

A 'week' is defined as 7 days, from Monday to Sunday.

University recommendation

If you are a full-time student, the University recommends you do not work more than 15 hours per week for undergraduate students and 6 hours per week for post graduate taught students. The University will not employ full-time postgraduate research students for more than an average of 9 hours per week across the academic year, and we recommend that postgraduate students apply this limit to employment outside the University.

Information for students employed as tutors and demonstrators can be found here:

Academic Services - Tutors and demonstrators

You must check your visa or BRP to check that the details are correct. If they are not, you may be able to get this corrected.

PhD students may take their six week annual leave period between the submission of their thesis and their viva exam, during which they may work full time, providing this is fully approved and recorded as a holiday period by the School. However, some employers, including the University of Edinburgh, will not allow you to work full time during this period. This will depend on the employer's policy.

You must revert to part time (no more than 20 hours per week) from the date of your viva until you submit your hardbound thesis.

Read more about work placements

Find out how to correct your visa

Find out more about sabbatical officers

What work am I not allowed to do?

Tier 4 students cannot:

  • Work as a self-employed person
    • This includes freelancing and ‘gig-economy’ work, such as Deliveroo or Uber drivers
  • Work as an entertainer or professional sportsperson or coach
  • Take a full-time, permanent position
  • Take a full-time internship or work placement during term time that is not an assessed and integral part of your studies
  • Take part in Business Activity

Find out more about working permissions

Are there any other restrictions?

University guidelines recommend the following limit on working hours:

  • Undergraduates should work no more than 15 hours per week
  • Postgraduate taught students should work no more than 6 hours per week 
  • Postgraduate research students should work no more than 9 hours per week

The University will enforce these rules for postgraduate research students who are working at the University.  

What are my vacation periods?

This will depend on the type of programme you are studying.

Undergraduate students have three vacation periods each year. These are in line with the University calendar:

  • Winter vacation 
  • Spring vacation 
  • Summer vacation

Postgraduate taught students have two holiday periods per year:

  • Winter vacation
  • Spring vacation

The summer vacation period does not count for you as you are expected to study full time towards your dissertation.  You must not work full time during this period.

Postgraduate research students do not have vacations in line with the University calendar.  You are permitted up to six weeks of vacation per year, which you must agree with your supervisor or School.

Semester dates for employment

Short term student visa

Short term students are not permitted to work, paid or unpaid, or undertake internships or work placements as part of your studies.

You may volunteer (normally for a charity).

Volunteering

You can volunteer while you are studying.  Volunteers must not:

  • Have a contract
  • Do ‘unpaid work’ (i.e. receive payment in kind)

Volunteers will normally help a charity or voluntary or public sector organisation.

UKCISA advice on volunteering

Careers Service

The Careers Service has lots of useful information and resources to help you navigate the UK graduate job market.

Careers Service

Work placements and internships for Tier 4 students

You may wish to undertake some work experience while you are studying. In many cases, this will be possible, but for non-EU/EEA/Swiss students there are restrictions on working in the UK.

Working as a Sabbatical Officer

International students are encouraged to stand for election as a Sabbatical Officer. Students with a Tier 4 visa are permitted to take a position as a Sabbatical Officer in the Students' Association.