Working in the UK

University Careers Advisory Service

We strongly encourage students who are considering working to refer to the University Careers Advisory Service for information and guidance on:

  • Employment during studies
  • Employment after studies
  • Job vacancies
  • Writing CVs and covering letters
  • Interview preparation
  • Careers events and workshops

Additional information on employment after your studies is available from UKCISA. For information on Tier 2 (General) work visa, please visit the Home Office website.

EEA and Swiss Nationals

All EEA and Swiss national students can work in the UK.

The requirement for Croatian nationals to apply to the Worker Authorisation Scheme came to an end on 30 June 2018 and can now work without restriction. Please visit the Home Office website.

Further information about working during studies for EEA/Swiss nationals and their dependents is available on the UKCISA webpage.

Non EEA Nationals

Two-year graduate work visa

The following details about the graduate route were confirmed by the Home Office in January 2021:

Any international student who will complete their course in or after the summer of 2021 will be eligible to apply for the new two year Graduate route, that includes those starting their course in September 2020.

We are still waiting on further details about implementation, but the Home Office has announced key features of the route:

  • It will be open to international students who have successfully completed a course of study at undergraduate (RQF 6, SCQF level 9/10) level or above at a Higher Education Provider with a track record of compliance, and who have a valid and extant student visa at the time of application;
  • The application process will be simple. There will be an application fee and applicants will pay the Immigration Health Surcharge;
  • Applicants will be subject to identity, criminality and security checks;
  • The leave period granted will be two years and will be non-extendable. Settlement rights will not be accrued;
  • Individuals will be able to work, or look for work in any sector, at any level;
  • Individuals will be able to switch into the skilled work route if they meet the requirements.
  • It is likely that an applicant will need to have studied a minimum number of months or years to be eligible, probably a minimum of a year to as not to disadvantage PGT students;
  • You will have to apply while still on a Tier 4 or student visa. You cannot return home and then apply from overseas after your Tier 4 visa has expired.

Key dates

Due to COVID-19, if you began your studies on or before September 2020 you need to be in the UK by 6 April 2021 to be eligible for the route.

If you began your studies in January 2021, then you need to be in the UK by 27 September 2021.  

Working during your studies

If you enter the UK on a visitor or short-term study visa then you are not permitted to take employment in the UK. This includes unpaid employment or work placements even if they are part of your course.

If you enter the UK with a Tier 4 (general) or student visa then this will feature either a prohibition or restriction condition relating to employment. If you are prohibited from taking employment your visa will clearly state that you are not allowed to work, or engage in any business or profession.

In practice, most Tier 4 or student visa holders are given a restriction work permission, which is usually worded 'able to work as authorised by the Secretary of State' or 'work (and any changes) must be authorised'.

Despite the wording used, holders of visas with either of these conditions can work within these conditions without needing further permission, but they must not work more than the maximum hours they have been granted.

This restriction employment condition allows Tier 4 and student visa holders to work up to 20 hours a week during term time, and full-time during vacations if they are studying at degree level or above, or studying a foundation degree (course that leads to a qualification at level 8 of the SCQF).

Students studying any other course will only be able to work up to 10 hours a week during term time, and full-time during vacations. The maximum number of hours you can work in a week (either 20 or 10) will be clearly shown on your visa.

The UKVI definition of 'week' is 'a period of 7 days beginning with a Monday'.

Please note that term-time covers all periods of your course when you are doing academic work and includes, for example, preparing for examinations, time spent producing MSc projects, dissertations and writing up research thesis until final submission.

For more information about working during your studies please visit the UKCISA website.

Dependants

Your family members will be able to come to the UK as a Tier 4 or Student Visa Dependant, and therefore work, if you are either:

  • a government-sponsored student taking a course that is over six months long, or
  • taking a postgraduate course that is at least 12 months long and you are studying at an institution that meets the UKVI's definition of a higher education institution.

For more information about dependants, please visit the UKCISA website.