A guide to working
during your studies

The information on this page relates to restrictions on working that apply to students with visas granted under the Student Route or Tier 4.

Should I work while I study?

Working in the UK will help you develop your English language skills and make a great addition to your CV. It's also a great way to meet new people and experience another side of British life. 

If you are interested in working during your studies, you must check that the work you want to do is permitted and check the maximum number of hours you are allowed to work under the conditions of your visa. The work you do will need to be carefully balanced with the demands of your studies. 

It's really important not to breach the conditions of your visa, as you may be prevented from obtaining a new visa in future or completing your studies.  It is a criminal offence with serious penalties to work more hours than permitted or to carry out work that is not permitted under the conditions of your visa.

If you have a Student Visa for full-time degree level study

The main purpose of the student visa route is for you to come to the UK to study, and there are strict limits on your working hours. Where you are permitted to work, your visa will state how many hours you can work (usually either 10 or 20 hours per week) and the intention is that this should only be to supplement your income while studying.

It is your responsibility to ensure you do not work more than maximum hours allowed. To repeat, if you do work more than maximum, you are breaking your visa conditions which is a criminal offence and you could face a significant fine, have your earnings seized and have your visa cancelled.

The UK Council for International Student Affairs (UKCISA) provides information and advice for international students; their website gives detailed information about working during your studies, but here is a summary:

  • If you are enrolled on a Bachelor’s degree course or higher you can work for up to 20 hours a week during term time, unless your visa states otherwise.
  • If you are enrolled on a course below Bachelor’s degree level, you can work up to 10 hours a week during term time, unless your visa states otherwise.
  • During holiday periods there are no restrictions on how many hours you can work (N.B. see Information for Research Students).
  • You cannot take a gap year and work full time in the UK. If you want to defer your studies for a year, you must leave the UK and come back when your studies start again.
  • If you complete your course and you apply to stay in the UK under another visa (e.g. Graduate visa) before your Student or Tier 4 visa expires, you can work full-time until you receive an outcome on your visa application.
  • You are permitted to work unrestricted hours before your course starts, from the date your visa is valid to the official start date of your course; and after your course has finished until the expiry of the visa.
  • You are not allowed to work at all if you have a student visa to study a part time course.

Type of work you are not permitted to do

  • You must not work in a full-time permanent role.
  • You must not be self-employed, including work as a freelancer, consultant or casual worker on a self-employed basis.
  • You must not work as a professional sportsperson, sports coach or entertainer.
  • You must not engage in any business activity (for example, where you have a financial or other significant beneficial interest such setting up your own business or partnership, being employed in a business in which you hold 10% or more shares, or holding a statutory role such as director).

Working a maximum number of hours and getting the balance right

While your visa may allow you to work up to 20 hours a week, to get the right balance of work/study/social life, we recommend that you only take on part-time work up to 15 hours a week.

For calculating your working hours during restricted periods, the working week runs from Monday to Sunday. Therefore, during term time, you are not permitted to work in excess of the hours permitted under your visa in any Monday to Sunday period, even if you worked fewer hours in other weeks.

If you have more than one job/voluntary position, you must include all the hours in every position you hold. You must include in your calculations any unpaid voluntary work and on-call work (even if you are on call but not actively engaged). 

Periods of unrestricted hours

If you are on an undergraduate or taught Master’s course, outside term time you are allowed to work more than the maximum number of permitted hours per week, unless your visa indicated otherwise. However, if your course requires you to be engaged in scheduled study outside term times, you should consider the 20 hour limit as applicable until you have completed the course work. Scheduled study includes preparing for or taking exams after the end of term, undertaking a summer module or completing a dissertation due for submission outside of term time.

If you are a postgraduate/research student, you are scheduled and committed to study for the duration of your course (usually 12 months) and therefore do not have vacation times. This means that you must not exceed the maximum number of weekly hours permitted by your visa for the duration of your course.

More information

We have a team of specialist Gateway advisors based in our campus libraries. They are trained to help and advise you on working during your studies, along with things like visa issues, finances, healthcare, and enrolment.

Work placements

Some of our courses allow for a short work placement during the course. During this placement you can work beyond the 20 hour a week limit if the placement is authorised by UCA before you start the placement.

Working for UCA

If you are offered part time or casual work at UCA, you will be required to follow our standard processes for checking your right to work in the UK, and to complete a declaration form for staff holding a student visa. This requires you to confirm you understand the conditions of your visa and the restrictions on the amount of work you can do.

You must complete this form for each part-time or casual role you have at the university and submit this to the manager who has recruited you, and also to the People & Culture Department by email: peopleandculture@uca.ac.uk.

You have a duty to ensure you are not working in excess of your permitted hours, especially if you work in more than one department or do paid/voluntary work outside the university.