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Working in the UK - A Guide for International Students

by the FindAPhD Team

Although international students are allowed to work in the UK (subject to the conditions outlined below), part-time work can be difficult to find, so you should not expect to fund your studies this way.

European Students from the EEA

Generally Students from a European Economic Area (EEA) country can work in the UK . No formal permission is needed, but be ready to show an employer your passport or identity card as proof of nationality. The remainder of this article does not apply to students from the EEA or Switzerland.

International students from outside the EEA

Generally most international students pursuing a full time postgraduate degree (for a period of over 6 months) can work in the UK during their studies providing that they do not:

  • work for more than 20 hours per week, except during any vacations or in the case of an agreed work placement or internship (see below).
  • engage in business, self-employment or provide services as a professional sportsperson or entertainer.
  • pursue a career by filling a permanent fulltime vacancy.

In other words you can do most part time jobs. This does not apply in all cases and you should check information at for the most up to date details.

Can I work to pay for university fees?

Generally, you must be able to pay your course fees and the living expenses of both yourself and any dependants that you bring with you without working in the UK and without recourse to public funds.

However, if you have a guaranteed offer of work at the university where you are studying this income can be taken into account when your means are assessed.

Can my husband or wife work in the UK?

If you were given permission to stay in the UK for 12 months or more your husband or wife will be given a visa or passport stamp that allows them to work. They will need a copy of your passport to show the Immigration Officer if they are following you to the UK .

What do I need before I can start work?

You will need to have applied for a National Insurance number to be eligible to work in the UK , but you do not need to have received your National Insurance number before you can start work. You should do this after you have received your offer of employment (your local Benefits Agency in the UK will advise you on how to apply).

What is an internship?

An internship is a short period of paid work, which an employer may offer a potential employee, even if the potential permanent employment is outside the UK . A student subject to conditions restricting employment will be allowed to undertake an internship provided that:

  • the student has not previously undertaken an internship with the employer
  • the internship is for not longer than three months
  • it is an established part of the employer's recruitment procedure
  • it offers pay and conditions of employment comparable to those for a 'resident worker' doing the same work
  • it is completed within the current period of leave as a student

Further Information

Much of the information in this article was adapted from the UK Council for International Student Affairs (UKCISA) web site.

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