Working in the UK

Most Tier 4 students are allowed to supplement their funds or gain work experience by working part-time while they study, as long as you ensure you meet the restrictions and conditions outlined below. Be sure to check your visa to make sure that the work limit during term time indicated below is what you have actually been granted. Students on a Short-term study visa cannot do any kind of work, work placement or work experience during your studies in the UK. 

Tier 4 work restrictions - hours

Students at different study levels will be allowed to work different hours depending on the University term dates, or the stage you are at in your studies. The following limits apply to both voluntary and paid work:

Study Level

Term time work

Vacation work

After course ends

Undergraduate students

20 hours per week limit during standard University term dates

Full time work permitted outside of standard University term dates

Full-time work permitted after your last term at the University ends, until the date your visa expires. 

Postgraduate Taught (Masters) students

20 hours per week limit during standard University term dates

If you are studying on a standard 12 month Masters programme, the 20 hour limit also applies during the summer vacation period, when you are writing your dissertation. 

Full-time work permitted after your last term at the University ends, until the date your visa expires. 

Postgraduate Research students

20 hour per week limit applies throughout your programme

20 hour limit applies throughout your programme

Full-time work is only permitted after the final submission of your thesis (after any required revisions and corrections have been completed and approved, and your thesis has been finally submitted).

Part-time students

Work is prohibited

Work is prohibited

Work is prohibited

INTO students (except for Graduate Diploma)

10 hour per week limit during INTO term dates Full-time work permitted outside of INTO term dates

Full-time work permitted after your INTO term ends, until the date your visa expires.

Tier 4 work restrictions - types of work

All students should be aware of the following Tier 4 work prohibitions:

  • You cannot be self-employed or engage in business activity
  • You cannot fill a full-time permanent vacancy
  • You must not be employed as an entertainer or professional sports person (including coach)

Work placements

If you are studying a programme which contains a work placement then you can do this full-time with your Tier 4 visa. The University is still required to monitor your attendance on this part of your programme.

Self-employment

Self-employment is not permitted on a Tier 4 visa. Further information on what constitutes self-employment can be found on the gov.uk website. Engaging in business activity is defined by UKVI as ‘working for a business where you have a financial or significant beneficial interest in a capacity other than as an employee’. An example of this would be setting up a business as a sole trader, but please check paragraphs 316-319 of the Tier 4 Policy Guidance for further information.

UKCISA has also written a detailed blog about this, which explains that trading online to make a profit, income from owning property, appearing on TV talent shows and even paid babysitting is viewed as self-employment, and is therefore not permitted. If you are unsure, please contact us before starting any employment.

Volunteering and voluntary work

The restrictions on working hours explained above do not apply to Volunteering but they do apply to Voluntary work. If you want to volunteer to gain experience you need to be clear on whether you are Volunteering or doing Voluntary work. You should always check with the organisation which offers you a volunteering opportunity whether it can be regarded as unpaid employment.

The difference between unpaid employment (voluntary work) and volunteering is explained in the Tier 4 policy guidance.  But as an overview:

  • Voluntary work is where the role involves specific tasks at specific times and the voluntary worker has contractual obligations. Voluntary work is unpaid employment and will count towards your maximum number of hours of work a week.
  • Volunteers do not have a contract and are not paid, though reasonable travel and living costs can be reimbursed. Volunteers usually help a charity, voluntary organisation or public sector organisation. Volunteering does not count towards your working hour allowance.

Letter confirming term dates

When you start a new job, your employer will ask you for a letter from the University confirming your term dates.  You can obtain this letter from the Student Information Desk

Although legally you can work up to 20 hours, the University strongly advises that undergraduate and taught postgraduate students work no more than 15 hours per week during term time, as extra work may adversely affect your studies. Postgraduate research students should be aware of the advisory limits on the number of hours of work they undertake, outlined in the University’s Employment of postgraduate students: Code of Good Practice.