Working While Studying: The Rules Foreign Students Need to Know

A survey published in 2023 found that more university students than ever are working part-time jobs. As per the Higher Education Policy Institute (Hepi) report, 55% of university students were in paid employment during 2023, compared to 45% the previous year [1]. 

The need for extra cash is the main reason for seeking part-time employment, but there’s also a desire among some students to gain work experience and make connections. Foreign students might not be more likely than their local counterparts to seek employment, but they may have more desire to gain work experience. 

Working in the UK during your studies

Working in a foreign country, regardless of your role, can look great on a CV. Add to this valuable experience meeting people from all walks of life, and working part-time as a foreign student can be a good idea. This is great news for employers. With plenty of people willing to work, it’s a chance for companies to fill gaps in their rosters. 

As an international student enrolled in a full-time degree-level programme, your student visa allows you to work for a maximum of 20 hours per week, including both paid and unpaid work. Violating this limit may result in your student visa being shortened or cancelled. Additionally, you are not allowed to work after your student visa has expired. If you wish to continue working in the UK after completing your studies, the most popular path is to switch to a Skilled Worker Visa, provided you meet the requirements, such as having a job offer from an employer with a Sponsor Licence

Rules Are there to Protect Employers and Employees

This framework includes rules regarding how records are maintained, the types of people/skills the company can hire, and minimum salary requirements. These rules are good for sponsor licence holders and foreign workers. Therefore, if you’re a foreign student searching through our jobs database, make sure the roles you’re applying for are legitimate. 

Beyond having a sponsor licence, there might be rules regarding the types of roles you can be offered and minimum salary requirements. Essentially, you should do your due diligence. These checks should be done in tandem with our standard tips on how to find the right job, such as your rights as an employee and well-being standards [2]. 

A Job Could Negatively Impact Your Studies

Something else you might want to consider is the impact a part-time job might have on your studies. The Hepi report found that 76% of working students reported a negative impact on their studies. Students from overseas have the added pressure of being away from home and paying higher fees.

Adding the pressure of a job to the mix might be too much. However, if money is an issue and you can manage your workload accordingly, there’s nothing wrong with working while you’re at university. Just make sure you’re working for a legitimate company that has the right to employ people from overseas. 

Further Reading 

[1] BBC article on the Hepi Report

[2] Your rights at work


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