Working in the UK while you study
Can I work while I’m studying?
If you are in the UK on a student visa for more than six months, then you will usually be able to work while you are studying. Check the passport sticker on your entry clearance or residence permit – if it says "Work (and any changes) must be authorised" or "Able to work as authorised by the Secretary of State", you are allowed to work during your studies.
If your student visa allows you to work, you can work for up to 20 hours a week during term-time and full-time during your holidays. You must not work more than this and if you do so you will be in breach of your visa conditions. You are allowed to do most kinds of work, though Home Office rules do not allow you to run a business, be self-employed, or pursue a career by filling a permanent career vacancy (you are also not allowed to work as a professional sportsperson or entertainer).
Working can help you with your weekly expenses, but you should not rely on part-time work for the payment of your tuition fees and accommodation. Average pay for part-time work in Leicester is around £7 per hour – though some students may earn more than this. We generally suggest that you don’t work more than 10-12 hours per week while studying – you need time to rest and relax too!
If you have any questions about working in the UK, advice is available from the international student support officer in the Student Gateway and from the Welfare and Education Centre.
How can I find a job?
The Employability and Careers team provide a comprehensive range of information and job vacancy services for international students. The team can help you to develop the skills you need to market yourself to employers and operates a daily 'drop-in' service for students in the Student Gateway. It also runs longer, in-depth guidance sessions and a range of workshops and information sessions in different faculties. The team arrange recruitment fairs and employer presentations, and provide advice on business start-up through the Campus Enterprise Opportunities (CEO) service.
In the Student Gateway you'll also find Unitemps, an on-campus recruitment agency. You might also want to think about applying for Frontrunners, a campus-based work placement scheme that can provide opportunities to develop your graduate employability, gain new skills and also experience what it's like to work within a large organisation.
What is a National Insurance number?
Employers and employees in the UK have to pay National Insurance contributions, which fund UK state benefits (such as the state pension, for example). Your employer should deduct National Insurance contributions from your earnings whenever you earn above a certain level (currently £139 per week).
National Insurance (NI) numbers are issued by the UK Department for Work and Pensions. An NI number is your own personal reference number for the UK tax system - knowing your NI Number should help to make sure that you pay the correct amount of tax. You do not need to have an NI number before starting work, although many employers prefer students to already have an NI number and once you get a job you will need to have one.
How can I get a National Insurance Number?
You can apply for an NI number by phoning 0345 600 0643, between 8am and 6pm, Monday to Friday. When you phone, you will usually be asked to provide personal details, including your passport or visa number, your date of arrival in the UK and a full UK address, including your postcode, so it's a good idea to have all this information ready when you call.
If you have a Tier 4 student visa, you will normally be able to complete your application by post. Students might sometimes be asked to attend a short appointment at a Job Centre in another city (usually Coventry or Nottingham - though possibly London). If you are an EU student, you will usually be asked to attend an appointment like this as a matter of course. Contact the firstname.lastname@example.org if you have any questions about this.
Applying for an NI number is FREE - you should not have to pay any money for this service. You will find agencies and companies online who will offer to arrange an NI number for you - however if you use one of these companies you will usually be expected to pay a fee. If you apply for an NI number directly (following the process above) then you should not have to pay any money.
Additional information about working in the UK during your studies is provided by the UK Council for International Student Affairs (UKCISA).