Last updated: 28 January 2021
Unfortunately, most international students learning English in the UK are not able to work during their studies. Those with a Student visa (formerly called Tier 4) are sometimes able to work part-time.
Volunteering is an alternative option for students who want to practice their English and meet local people.
Unfortunately, short-term students are not allowed to work in the UK.
This rule applies to:
Short term students cannot do paid work, unpaid internships or work experience placements.
However, they can gain experience through volunteering alongside their English language studies.
Students with a Student visa (formerly called Tier 4) can sometimes work in the UK. This depends on which institution they study with.
Students who study at an eligible institution on full-time course can work part-time. Their passport sticker (entry clearance) or biometric residence permit (BRP) will tell you how many hours they can work per week. Students should ask their chosen institution to find out if they are able to work, or contact us at English UK.
If able to work, students can:
Students aged 18 to 30 from Australia, Canada, Japan, Monaco, New Zealand, Hong Kong, Republic of Korea or Taiwan can apply to spend up to two years in the UK on a Youth Mobility Scheme visa.
This visa allows them to work and study in the UK for up to two years. Find out more on the UK government website.
Internships and work placement are considered the same as work under UK visa rules.
English language centres often offer English plus work experience courses, but these are only available to students with a visa that allows them to work.
All students, including short-term students, can volunteer with a charity, or voluntary sector organisation. This is a great opportunity for international students to meet local people and practice their English.
Example of volunteering opportunities include helping at a sports event, beach clean up or arts festival. Volunteers can be paid expenses, like travel costs.
It is important to note that short-term students can volunteer, but they cannot do 'voluntary work'. Before volunteering starts, make sure the role meets the UK Government's definition of volunteering rather than voluntary work:
You can see the UK Government's guidance for short-term students here, on page 13 (published on Thursday 22 August 2019).
International students who enrol on a undergraduate (RQF 6) level course or above at a higher education provider from September 2020 and successfully complete their course of study will be eligible to apply for the new two year graduate work visa.