Advice for UK students:
Working in the UK during your studies
- Can I work while I study in the UK?
- The rules keep changing. Does this affect me if I am already in the UK?
- What kind of work can I do during my studies?
- How many hours a week can I work?
- Can I work an average of 10 or 20 hours a week?
- Can I increase the maximum number of hours I can work?
- When can I work full time?
- Can I pay for my studies through work?
- Can I take a gap year and work full time?
- My employer says I must prove I can work during my studies
- What obligations does my employer have towards me?
- Do I have to pay tax if I work while I study?
- What is a National Insurance number and how do I get one?
- Can I apply for tax credits?
- Can my family members work while I study in the UK?
Can I work while I study in the UK?
Tier 4 (Child) students who are aged 16 or older can work up to 10 hours a week. Younger students are not allowed to work.
If you apply as a Tier 4 (General) student, this depends on where you study. If you study at a private college, in most cases you will not be allowed to work, even if the private college has Highly Trusted Sponsor status. However, if your private college is a recognised body, you will be allowed to work.
You will be allowed to work if you study at one of the following types of education provider:
- recognised body
- institution that receives public funding as a higher education institution in
- publicly-funded further education college.
This information applies to you if you make or made your immigration application on or after 4 July 2011. For full details, including information about your work situation if you made your immigration application before 4 July 2011, see
The rules keep changing. Does this affect me if I am already in the UK?
Not immediately. New rules do not affect you if you already have immigration permission to be in the UK. You have to comply with the rules that were in force when you applied for that permission. However, if you need to make an immigration application to stay longer, the new rules will apply to you from the date when you are granted permission to stay.
This means, for example, that if you are at a private college and you have permission to work, you do not have to stop working. The changes to the Immigration Rules that came into force on 4 July 2011 affect you only if you make an immigration application on or after that date. Your work conditions might then change, but only once you have been granted your new immigration permission. You can continue working until you are granted new permission that says something different, for example, that work is prohibited.
The same applies if you have been able to work for up to 20 hours a week and you are at a publicly-funded further education college. You can continue to work up to 20 hours a week until you apply for and are granted new immigration permission. This new permission will restrict you to working 10 hours a week and you should then comply with that restriction.
For details of the work you can do, which depends on when you applied for the immigration permission you have now, see Working during your studies
What kind of work can I do during my studies?
If you have student immigration permission that allows you to take employment, you can do most kinds of work. However, you must not:
- be self-employed
- be employed as a professional sportsperson or sports coach
- be employed as an entertainer
- take a permanent full-time job.
For full details, see Working during your studies
How many hours a week can I work?
If you have student immigration permission that allows you to take employment, you can work up to 20 hours or up to 10 hours a week during term time. This depends on when you made your immigration application, where you are studying and the type of course you are taking. You can work full time during your vacations and on work placements.
For details, see Working during your studies
Can I work an average of 10 or 20 hours a week?
No. If you work more than 10 or 20 hours in any week in term time (and you are not doing a work placement for your course or an internship), you are in breach of your immigration conditions, even if you work fewer than 10 or 20 hours in other weeks.
For details, see Working during your studies
Can I increase the maximum number of hours I can work?
No. You can not apply to extend your maximum number of hours of work. You must limit your work to what you are allowed to do, whether it is 10 hours or 20 hours a week in term time.
When can I work full time?
If you have permission to work, you can sometimes work more than 10 or 20 hours a week in term time.
- During your vacations – your vacation dates are decided by your college or university
- As an elected sabbatical officer in your Students' Union or with the National Union of Students
- When you have completed your studies and you still have current immigration permission – the date on which your studies end is decided by your college or university and you should not work full time before that date.
Whether or not you have permission to work, you can work full time at any time during your studies on a work placement if you are a Tier 4 student. Work placements must be an assessed part of your course and your Tier 4 sponsor remains responsible for you while you are working.
Although you can work full time during these periods, you must still comply with your other student work conditions. This means that you must not:
- take a permanent full-time job
- be self-employed
- work as a professional sportsperson
- work as an entertainer, unless you are studying music at degree-level and professional performance is part of a work placement.
If you are writing a dissertation or thesis, even if you are not attending classes, this is not a vacation period for you. This means that you should not work full time until you have submitted your dissertation or thesis and finished your studies, unless you are doing a work placement which is part of your course.
The date on which you finish your studies is decided by your college or university. It is often the end of term or semester, even if you complete your exams or coursework before that date.
For information about working after you have completed your studies, see Working in the UK after your studies
For information about working as a sabbatical officer, see
Can I pay for my studies through work?
You should be able to pay your tuition fees and living costs without having to work in the UK. However, if you need to make an immigration application in the UK, and you are working lawfully within the restrictions described above, you can use your UK earnings to show that you can meet the maintenance requirements. You should not rely on money from work in the UK because:
- it can be difficult to find work
- it is unlikely that you will earn enough to cover all your costs
- you might lose your job
- you might have problems with your studies if you spend too much time working.
Can I take a gap year and work full time?
No. If you want to defer your studies for a year, you should leave the UK and come back when your studies start again. You can work full time only in your vacations, or when you have finished your studies, or if you are doing a work placement or an internship.
My employer says I must prove I can work during my studies
If you have a passport sticker or identity card that does not prohibit work, you are allowed to take employment as described above without getting any further approval or permission.
For details of how to prove this to your employer, see Working during your studies
What obligations does my employer have towards me?
UK employers have a number of legal duties towards their employees. These include anti-discrimination measures, health and safety requirements, the obligation to pay the minimum wage, comply with laws relating to maximum working hours and breaks, pay National Insurance contributions, and provide wage slips.
Directgov – UK Government information for employees.
Do I have to pay tax if I work while I study?
If you earn more than a specified personal allowance in any tax year, you will have to pay income tax. HM Revenue & Customs and the Low Incomes Tax Reform Group provide detailed information about how the tax system in the UK applies to students.
What is a National Insurance number and how do I get one?
Your National Insurance number (NINo) is a unique personal number which is used to record your National Insurance (NI) contributions. Employees and employers both pay NI contributions, which help to fund contributory benefits, for example, the state pension and jobseeker's allowance. You do not need to have a NINo before starting work, but you must obtain one when you get a job.
HM Revenue & Customs – information about how to apply for a NINo
Can I apply for tax credits?
If the entry clearance or residence permit in your passport states that you are subject to the condition "No recourse to public funds", or if your identity card says "No public funds", you must not apply for tax credits. This would be a breach of your immigration conditions.
Can my family members work while I study in the UK?
Your family members will be allowed to work if you are either:
- a government-sponsored student taking a course that is over six months long, or
- taking a postgraduate course that is at least 12 months long and you are studying at an institution that meets the UK Border Agency's definition of a higher education institution.
If your family members are able to join you or stay with in the UK under a different Tier 4 provision, they will be able to work only if you are applying for leave for 12 months or more and your course is at degree level.
Family members who are allowed to work can take any type of employment, except as a doctor or dentist in training if their passport or biometric residence permit states that they are subject to this prohibition, and they can be self-employed.
For more information, see Working during your studies