Working in the UK whilst studying
Many international students (those who are not from European Economic Area countries or Switzerland) work part-time whilst studying. Most graduate employers value work experience as it can provide students with the opportunity to:
- gain valuable work experience
- develop new employability skills and enhance existing skills
- improve your English language and cultural awareness
- find out about job seeking strategies and what it is like to work in the UK
- obtain a wider variety of different viewpoints and perspectives from working in diverse environments
It may take a while to find work, so we recommend that you start early in semester one by taking advantage of the services and resources that we provide in Career and Employability Services.
Frequently asked questions
Am I eligible to work alongside my studies?
How much will I be paid?
It is impossible to say how much you will be paid as it depends on the type of work, your skills and the type of employer. However, legally all employers must pay their employees the National Minimum Wage, which as of 1 April 2017, is:
- £7.50 per hour for workers 25 and over (known as the National Living Wage)
- £7.05 per hour for workers 21 - 24
- £5.60 per hour for 18 - 20
The NMW rate normally changes in October each year.
(Figures taken from Gov.uk website).
How many hours can I work?
International Students cannot work more than 20 hours per week in term time (see definition below), or more than 10 hours per week for students on the Foundation courses – all foundation courses at the University of Bradford will qualify under the 10 hours per week restriction, except in the case of sandwich placement or internship.
- Term time and holiday or vacation time is defined by the university's calendar. They are usually based around the academic year with holidays at Christmas, Easter and in the summer. Where courses do not follow the usual August/September to June pattern, term time means any period when you are supposed to be doing academic work.
- Your holidays, when you can work full-time, are the period when you do not have to be doing academic work. This will be different depending on the type of course you are doing. For example, if you are supposed to research and write a dissertation or thesis while other students are on holiday, this is term-time for you and you should restrict your work to 20 (or 10) hours a week during this time. However, if your tutor or supervisor agrees that you can take a break for some of that period and is happy to confirm in writing that this time is a holiday for you, you can work full-time during that agreed break.
The penalties for working more are severe and can result in you being asked to leave the country. You also need to think carefully about how much time you can spare from your studies as you must not risk falling behind – the university recommends that you only work 15 hours per week during term time at the most.
Will I have to pay tax?
Whether or not you pay tax on your job depends on how much you earn, not on the number of hours you work. Everyone receives an amount of income in each tax year on which no tax has to be paid. This is called the Personal Allowance (£11,500 for 2017-18). If your earnings are below this, then you do not have to pay tax. If your earnings are more than this, you will pay tax on the difference.
If you work for an employer, they will usually take the tax from your wages automatically each payday and pass it to HM Revenue and Customs. This is called PAYE (Pay As You Earn). If you have paid tax and your total taxable income for the year does not go above your Personal Allowance, you can claim a refund. If you think you have paid too much tax, please contact the Inland Revenue on 0845 302 1432.
What is National Insurance?
All employees over 16 years of age in the UK may have a liability to pay National Insurance (NI) which is deducted from wage payments by the employer. This is done via a National Insurance number which UK citizens are usually issued with at the age of 16. It is your personal reference number that is used by HM Revenue and Customs to work out what NI contributions you must pay when you work and looks like AB123456C. If you do not already have a NI number, you will need to apply for one (though you can start work without an NI number but need to start the application process as soon as you are offered the job).
To get an NI number you can apply by ringing your local National Insurance Number Allocation Office to make an appointment – 0845 600 0643. You must take with you the following essential document:
- Your passport containing the visa stamp
However, other useful documents to take with you are as follows:
- Proof of your UK address (e.g. a utility bill, bank statement or driving licence)
- A confirmation letter from the university, confirming your student status
- A letter or contract from your employer saying when you received your job offer / started work, the hourly rate of pay and duration of employment.
How can Careers help me find a part-time job?
- Our part-time jobs pages feature lots of information on finding a job, including details of local companies and organisations.
- You can register on our Jobs Online database for a wide range of jobs and receive email alerts when new jobs are made available.
- You can book a 20 minute appointment with our employability advisers who can help with you find and apply for student jobs.
- We also share a selection of local part-time jobs suitable for students on our Facebook and Twitter pages every Thursday.
- Our booklet Your Guide To... Getting a job has information on part-time jobs plus example CVs and covering letters, interview advice and more- pick one up in careers reception.
- Our regular programme of employability skills workshops are designed to help you with all aspects of job hunting and career planning.
- We also have a dedicated careers information room in Student Central where you can collect free copies of magazines, directories and other careers publications.
If you need any further assistance, come along to one of our drop in sessions, held every weekday in Careers reception from 10.00 - 12.00 and 13.00 - 15.00, or make an appointment with an adviser by calling 01274 234991.
If it is not essential that you are paid for your work, you could consider volunteering to to help out the community, and give you valuable work experience.