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Working during your studies

Students at laptops

Can I work while I'm in the UK?

If you hold a Tier 4 visa, and your visa states that work is permitted, then you can work.

If you are doing a full-time degree-level course, then you should be able to work 20 hours per week during term time, and full-time during your vacations.

If you are doing a course that is below degree level (such as a foundation course or Pre-sessional English course), then you should be able to work 10 hours per week during term time, and full-time during your vacations.

If you are in the UK as a Standard Visitor or as a Short-term Student, you will not be able to do any work.

What kind of work can I do?

If you're allowed to work, then you can do most kinds of work. However, as a Tier 4 student, you can't be self-employed, be a professional sportsperson or entertainer, or be a doctor or dentist in training. Also, you cannot take a permanent full-time job.

It's also useful to remember that "work" includes both paid and unpaid work. The UKVI makes a distinction between "voluntary work" (which is regular work that is compensated in some way) and "volunteering", which is more casual and occasional, and often not compensated.

If you have further questions about whether the kind of work you want to do is permitted or will contribute to your weekly limit, please contact one the University’s International Student Visa Advisers at batch@bcu.ac.uk.

When can I work full-time?

Undergraduate degree level students

If you are studying on a full-time undergraduate degree level course, you can work part-time during term time, and full-time during your vacations.

"Term time" refers to the teaching dates and exam periods as laid out in the University’s academic calendar. Please note that term time also includes reading weeks, and so you can't work full-time during reading weeks.

Postgraduate (Master's) students

Master's students can work full-time during the Christmas and Easter vacations, but are restricted to working 20 hours per week during the summer. This is because you are expected to be working on your dissertation during this time, and so the summer is not a vacation for you.

Postgraduate research students

Postgraduate research students (usually PhD students) do not have standard published University term and vacation dates. Postgraduate research students are regarded as continuing their studies across the full calendar year and have a 52 week term and therefore can only work up to a maximum of 20 hours per week. Any weeks where more than 20 hours is worked is a breach of Tier 4 visa conditions.

A postgraduate research student may be allowed up to 40 days authorised leave in the year but this is not leave to allow them to work.

The restrictions on working hours for research students applies until such time as the bound final thesis of their PhD is submitted to the Research Office. The 20 working hours per week restriction continues to apply after submitting the thesis but prior to the viva, and whilst corrections are being made to the thesis after the viva.

If you are on a Tier 4 visa and are a postgraduate research student, the most you can work each week is in line with the conditions set out on your Tier 4 visa OR a maximum of 20 hours per week OR the requirements/conditions of your funding whichever is the lower. In arriving at the lowest number, you must also factor in that any teaching or academic activity that a postgraduate research student undertakes must not exceed six hours each week.

The immigration rules relating to work are very strict and breaking them, even accidentally, can result in your visa being cancelled and your removal from the UK, so you should ensure you adhere to the rules. Therefore, if you are unsure of how many hours you can do please contact one of the University’s International Student Visa Advisers at batch@bcu.ac.uk before starting work.

Additional Information

Please refer to the University’s full policy on Tier 4 students (Controlling Working Hours) for more information.

Additionally, because the rules around working in the UK can change, we recommend that you refer to UKCISA (UK Council for International Student Affairs) for further information.