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Employment information for international students

Working in the UK whilst studying

Many international students work part-time whilst studying. Most graduate employers value work experience as it can provide students with the opportunity to:

  • gain valuable work experience
  • develop new employability skills and enhance existing skills
  • improve your English language and cultural awareness
  • find out about job seeking strategies and what it is like to work in the UK
  • obtain a wider variety of different viewpoints and perspectives from working in diverse environments

It may take a while to find work, so we recommend that you start early in semester one by taking advantage of the services and resources that we provide in Career and Employability Services.

Frequently asked questions

Am I eligible to work alongside my studies?

See our information on visas, or if you are still unsure, there are drop-in sessions with Visa Support advisers from 11:00am to 12:00pm, Monday, Wednesday and Friday at MyBradford Student Services, Richmond Building.

How much will I be paid?

It is impossible to say how much you will be paid as it depends on the type of work, your skills and the type of employer. However, legally all employers must pay their employees the National Minimum Wage, which as of 1 April 2022, is:

  • £9.50 per hour for workers 23 and over (known as the National Living Wage)
  • £9.18 per hour for workers 21 - 22
  • £6.83 per hour for 18 - 20

(Figures taken from NI Direct).

What is National Insurance?

All employees over 16 years of age in the UK may have a liability to pay National Insurance (NI) which is deducted from wage payments by the employer. This is done via a National Insurance number, your personal reference number used by HM Revenue and Customs to work out what contributions you must pay when you work. An NI number follows the format AB123456C.

If you do not already have a NI number, you will need to apply for one (though you can start work without an NI number but need to start the application process as soon as you are offered the job).

You may have a National Insurance (NI) number printed on the back of your biometric residence permit (BRP). You don’t need to apply for a National Insurance number if you already have one, or one is printed on your BRP.

To get an NI number call the National Insurance number application line: 0800 141 2075 

More details are available on the website.

How many hours can I work?

International Students cannot work more than 20 hours per week in term time (see definition below), or more than 10 hours per week for students on the Foundation courses – all foundation courses at the University of Bradford will qualify under the 10 hours per week restriction, except in the case of sandwich placement or internship

  • Term time and holiday or vacation time is defined by the university's calendar. They are usually based around the academic year with holidays at Christmas, Easter and in the summer. Where courses do not follow the usual August/September to June pattern, term time means any period when you are supposed to be doing academic work.
  • Your holidays, when you can work full-time, are the period when you do not have to be doing academic work. This will be different depending on the type of course you are doing. For example, if you are supposed to research and write a dissertation or thesis while other students are on holiday, this is term-time for you and you should restrict your work to 20 (or 10) hours a week during this time. However, if your tutor or supervisor agrees that you can take a break for some of that period and is happy to confirm in writing that this time is a holiday for you, you can work full-time during that agreed break.

The penalties for working more are severe and can result in you being asked to leave the country. You also need to think carefully about how much time you can spare from your studies as you must not risk falling behind – the university recommends that you only work 15 hours per week during term time at the most.

Will I have to pay tax?

Whether or not you pay tax on your job depends on how much you earn, not on the number of hours you work. Everyone receives an amount of income in each tax year on which no tax has to be paid. This is called the Personal Allowance (£12,570 for 2021/22). If your earnings are below this, then you do not have to pay tax. If your earnings are more than this, you will pay tax on the difference.

If you work for an employer, they will usually take the tax from your wages automatically each payday and pass it to HM Revenue and Customs. This is called PAYE (Pay As You Earn). If you have paid tax and your total taxable income for the year does not go above your Personal Allowance, you can claim a refund. If you think you have paid too much tax, please contact HM Revenue and Customs on 0300 200 3300.

How can Careers help me find a part-time job?

  • Our part-time jobs pages feature lots of information on finding a job, including details of local companies and organisations.
  • You can register on Handshake Career Centre for a wide range of jobs and receive email alerts when new jobs are made available.
  • You can book an appointment with our employability advisers who can help with you find and apply for student jobs.
  • We also share a selection of local part-time jobs suitable for students on our Facebook and LinkedIn pages every Thursday.
  • Our regular programme of employability skills workshops are designed to help you with all aspects of job hunting and career planning.

If you need any further assistance, book a quick queries or 30-minute appointment with us.


If it is not essential that you are paid for your work, you could consider volunteering to to help out the community, and give you valuable work experience.

If you would like to know more about volunteering opportunities locally, see our volunteering info and contact the UBU Volunteering Team by phone on 01274 233300 or email.