top of page

Working in the UK as an international student: What you need to know

Here're some do's and don'ts that you need to be aware of if you're planning to work in the UK as an international student

A growing number of students - more than half of all undergraduates in the UK - now work alongside their studies, and the universities are beginning to catch up with this trend.

As the British newspaper The Observer reports, in order to accommodate working students, some universities are purposefully reducing the number of days one is required to be on campus. New compact timetables with lectures and seminars scheduled over two or three days make it easier for undergraduates to work part-time.

International students wanting to earn additional money or get professional experience while studying in the country can fully benefit from these changes as well: Student visa holders on full-time degree-level courses are allowed to work in the UK.

Here are some do's and don'ts that you need to be aware of if you're planning to work in the UK as an international student:


Generally, student visa holders who study full-time can:

  • work up to 20 hours per week during term-time (the part of the year when classes are given in universities)

  • work full-time (although they cannot be employed on a permanent contract) during vacation or if they take up internships and work placements as part of their studies.

It means that students can work a maximum of 20 hours in total in any one week (beginning with a Monday and ending on a Sunday) during their studies, and this includes both paid and unpaid work. You need to keep in mind that these rules also apply even if you are working for a company or client outside the UK.

Typically, you can also work full-time during your studies if your work placement or internship is an integral and assessed part of your particular course. Such work placements/internships last between between six and 12 months. During this time, students are placed with a company or organisation where they can gain valuable professional experience and learn how to apply their knowledge in the real world.

However, you need to check out your university's specific working restrictions first because it can impose even stricter rules. For example, the University of Cambridge discourages most students from working or undertaking work placements/internships during term-time.

The good news is that even after your university course has finished you can continue working full-time until your student visa expires.


At the same time, a student visa allows international students to work only on a temporary basis (temporary work is a type of work in which an employer hires an employee temporarily). They can't:

  • be self-employed (i.e. do any freelance work)

  • set up a business or be engaged in business activity (for example, by holding shares of 10% or more)

  • work as a professional sportsperson, paid or unpaid

  • work as an entertainer, paid or unpaid.

In accordance with these rules, an international student can't do any freelance work for someone outside the UK because it'll be considered as self-employment.

Want to know more about what it's like to study as an international student in the UK and how to become one? LEO International Online School offers a diverse and intensive two–year A-Level programme designed to prepare students for entry to universities in the United Kingdom. Learn more about this programme and our other courses here, and don't hesitate to contact us at

Recent Posts

See All


Post about Online Education
bottom of page