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Working in the UK while you study

Can I work while I’m studying?

If you are in the UK on a Tier 4 student visa for more than six months, then you will usually be able to work for up to 20 hours a week during term-time. If your visa allows you to work,  you must not work more than this - if you do so you will be in breach of your visa conditions. You should be able to work full-time during your holidays. 

Working can offer useful experience and can help you with your weekly expenses, although it's important to remember that you should not rely on part-time work to pay your tuition fees or accommodation. Average pay for part-time work in Leicester is around £7 per hour – though some students might earn more than this. We suggest however that you don’t work more than 10-12 hours per week while studying – you need time to rest and relax too.

More information is available here.

How can I find a job?

The Careers and Employability 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 run a range of guidance sessions and workshops in different faculties. The team arrange recruitment fairs and employer presentations, and provide advice on business start-up through DMUWorks. More information is available online here; current students can also make an appointment via MyGateway.

We also suggest registering with Unitemps,  the on-campus recruitment agency. 

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.

Find out more about paying National Insurance, here.

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 will need to start the process of applying an NI number by phone, by calling a the UK Government's National Insurance Number Application Line. 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.

Check the UK Government website here for details of the number to call. 

As part of the next step of the application process, you will then be sent an application form in the post, or alternatively asked to attend a short appointment - this will usually be in another city (generally Coventry or Nottingham). 

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.  

Further information

Additional information about working in the UK during your studies is provided by the UK Council for International Student Affairs (UKCISA).