How to Work While Studying Abroad in the U.K.

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Thinking about holding down a job while you study abroad in the United Kingdom? New regulations put into place in 2015 may make it harder to do so. Here's what you should know before you apply to schools or programs in England, Scotland, Wales or Northern Ireland.

The latest rules for students in further education programs

According to a report by ICEF Monitor, a research firm that focuses on international education, the British government declared in July 2015 that students who are based outside the European Union and enrolled in further education programs (comparable to continuing education programs in the United States) can no longer work part time while they are studying.

work and study abroad in the uk

Those who finish their studies in non-degree post-high school programs in the U.K. must leave the country and apply for a U.K. work visa from outside the country.

For other students who want to work abroad

But for other students (aged 16 and older) who want to study in university level or graduate-level programs and work in the U.K., the rules about working are less strict.

When you apply for a visa to enter the U.K. as a student, see if you are eligible for a Tier 4 visa. This visa is for international students coming to the U.K. for a program or school with a Tier 4 Sponsor License (to see if your program or school qualifies, see this list). The Tier 4 visa is what allows you to be in the country to study and also allows you to work, based on your level of coursework and what your sponsor allows.

work and study abroad in the uk

When you enter the U.K. and your passport is stamped, check what the stamp says. Some stamps may limit or prevent you from working, according to the U.K. Council on International Student Affairs. Some stamps clearly state “Work Prohibited," while others note “Work Restrictions" or “Work in Tier 4 Rules."

If you want to work while you are studying in the U.K., make sure you know ahead of time what kind of stamp you should expect. Ask when you apply for your visa from outside the U.K. before your trip to study abroad.

What kind of job can you land?

Your school or program may have an internship or work placement element as part of your studies. Check with your school's career office, counselor, or adviser to see if there is a formal program they can help you apply for or join.

If not, you can look for information about career-related positions at sites such as the National Careers Service or Prospects—particularly Prospects' database of graduate-level internships and jobs—and Graduate Talent Pool. See also The Careers Group, Employment 4 Students, and StudentJob.

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To find other positions that aren't directly career related, consider looking at fliers or other resources posted around the physical school campus, look at local online resources or in a local newspaper, or contact companies (such as restaurants looking for waitstaff, shops looking for retail help, and so on) directly, according to an article published on the EducationUK website.

Pros and cons of working while studying abroad

work and study abroad in the uk

Of course, juggling a job along with studying can have its benefits and drawbacks. On the plus side, you can earn some income while you are studying, which can help with your expenses. You are also likely to gain new skills to highlight on your resume, regardless of what job you hold.

On the flip side, taking on too much work may make it harder to find time for your studies, which is your first priority as a student. Too much work can also lead to feeling more stress and exhaustion, which is never good for anyone. Be sure to weigh all your options before making a final decision either way.

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