Working while studying

Your eligibility to work in the UK will depend upon the type of visa that you have.

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Your visa will confirm if you are permitted to work, and it is very important that you follow the conditions of your visa.

If you do not adhere to the work conditions of your visa, your visa could be cancelled, and you could receive a fine and/or a ban on entry to the UK, so it is essential to make sure that you do not breach your working rights in the UK.

Working while studying will provide valuable work experience, but you should not rely on part-time work to be the main source of funding your studies.

Standard Visitor visa

If you have a Standard Visitor visa, you are not permitted to take paid or unpaid employment (for a UK company or as a self-employed person), nor can you undertake a work placement as part of your course.

Student visa

Generally, students studying at a degree level or above, or who are on a study abroad programme, can work a maximum of 20 hours per week during term time and full-time during official holiday periods; this will also be stated on your student visa. Please refer to the term dates on the Goldsmiths website to be aware of the official term dates. 

If you are studying a course at Goldsmiths below degree level (for example, on one of our International Foundation Certificate programmes), then you can work a maximum of 10 hours per week during term time and full-time during official holiday periods.

If you are unclear about your working conditions or think they are incorrect contact us for more information. 

Restrictions on employment

It is important to understand that there are some restrictions on your employment if you have a student visa.

You cannot:

  • Be self-employed or engage in business activities. Business activity includes working for a business, not as an employee. For example, as a contractor or freelancing. Concerning selling items online or at car boot sales, anyone can sell unwanted items, but if you are making or buying items in order to sell them, this is ‘trading’ and therefore would count as self-employment, and would not be allowed. However, Uber drivers are employees, not self-employed, therefore you can work for Uber. The key thing to remember is that you can be employed, but not self-employed
  • Fill a permanent position 
  • Be a professional sportsperson or sports coach/entertainer, although music and dance students studying at degree level or above can undertake a work placement that involves professional performance if it is arranged by the university and is an assessed part of your course. Acting or performing as an amateur (for personal enjoyment and not seeking to derive a living from the activity) or as a hobby is allowed
  • Setup a business, or be involved in the management of a business, for example, as a director. You cannot run a business at all while you are on a Student Visa in the UK
  • Work more than the number of hours stated on your visa during term time under any circumstances

Working for an employer outside of the UK

If you are physically outside of the UK, any conditions of a UK visa that you hold are irrelevant, including the working conditions. You will need to check what your working rights are in the specific country where you are working.

However, if while you are in the UK, you work remotely or do a ‘virtual internship’ for a non-UK employer, this will count towards your weekly 10 or 20 hours-per-week maximum working limit.

Term time

Term dates are set by Goldsmiths, and cannot be amended.

The start and end dates on your visa are linked to these official term dates.

For postgraduate students, the summer period is still considered to be term time, which means you cannot work more than 20 hours per week. Once the official course end date has passed (as listed on your CAS statement), and only if you have completed your course can you work full-time until your visa expires. During Easter and Christmas vacations, you can also work full-time.

For undergraduate students, you can work full-time during the summer vacation period. During the Easter and Christmas holidays, you can also work full-time.

Work placements 

You can participate in a work placement for up to half of your course if you are studying at a degree level or above or even more if a work placement is a legal requirement of your course. It may be possible to participate for more than half of your course (for example, if you are a PGCE student).

If you are studying below degree level, then your work placement cannot be more than one-third of your course.

The work placement can be carried out in addition to other employment but only if your work placement is an assessed part of your studies and was originally stated on your CAS letter. This means that you are allowed to do a full-time work placement if it has been stated on your CAS earlier, and it will not be counted towards the 20 hours per week rule. In case your placement is optional and not mentioned on the CAS, it will be counted towards the 20 hours of your work during term time and cannot be carried out as a full-time placement. If you are unsure about this, please get in touch with us before taking on the placement. 

If you are on a compulsory work placement (marked on your CAS) you will be contacted by us to confirm the dates and location of your placement as this will need to be reported to UKVI prior to you starting it. If you are not contacted by us, please do let us know prior to starting your placement.

If you need help finding work in the UK, speak to our Careers Service.

Volunteering work

There is a difference between voluntary work and volunteering; if you are genuinely volunteering, then these hours can be undertaken in addition to the cap on hours.

However, if you do voluntary work, then this and any other (e.g. paid) work that you do must not exceed the number of hours you are permitted to work during term time.

Voluntary workers will usually have contractual obligations to perform the work (e.g. to attend at particular times and carry out specific tasks) with the employer being contractually required to provide the work – the contract does not have to be written. The worker is usually remunerated in kind.

Please contact us if you are considering volunteering so that we can advise you further.

National Insurance Number (NIN)

You do not need a NIN when you are looking for work, but once you start a job, you will need to apply. Information on applying for a NIN is on the GOV.UK.

You will already have a NIN if you have worked in the UK previously. This may be recorded on your current BRP card.

Dependents working in the UK

If you have a student visa dependent, then they can take up most types of employment including self-employment but they cannot work as a doctor or dentist in training. There’s also no time limit to their working hours.

Right to work

Go to GOV.UK's prove your right to work to an employer for information on how to do this.