Accessibility statement

Looking for work during studies (international students) 

An international student sitting at a laptop and the image of a magnifying glass.

Most international students in the UK are allowed to work for up to 20 hours a week (you can only work more hours during vacations). Read on for resources and support from Careers and Placements about looking for part-time work.

Your right to work in the UK

  • The Immigration Advice team provides useful information on working during your studies and can provide advice on immigration rules; make sure you check what types of work you are allowed to do on a Student visa
  • You may want to provide information on your right to work on job application. For example for undergraduate* students: My Student visa, valid until [month, year], entitles me to work up to 20 hours per week in semester time and full-time during University vacations. (Come to a careers drop-in if you want to talk about this.)
  • We have information for employers about employing students on a Student visa, which you might find useful to read too. Please note: self-employment or freelance work (working for yourself rather than being on an employer's payroll) is not permitted on a Student visa.
  • The UK Council for International Student Affairs (UKCISA) website is also an excellent resource.

* Note: Course requirements for Masters and PhD students are different; if you are a postgraduate the 20 hours per week maximum is likely to apply throughout the year.

Find a job

Be careful when looking for jobs - unfortunately we have heard about some scams targeting international students. It is best to look on reputable jobs sites rather than social media. If in doubt, please ask us!

Presentation slides (November 2023) Looking for part-time work in York

Placements and internships

Some international students look for a placement or an internship in the UK.

A placement (placement year or year in industry) usually lasts between 9 and 12 months, and is accredited as part of your degree. A placement year gives you valuable experience and could improve your chances of getting a graduate job at the end of your course. If your course does not include an integrated placement year, you may be able to join the University of York's Placement Year programme - but you will need to contact the Immigration Advice Team to check first that you can extend your Student visa. 

An internship is a shorter period of paid work experience, lasting from a few weeks to a few months. Employers often recruit students to do an internship in the summer vacation before their final year at university, but York Internships have paid internships available to all year groups. Postgraduate students please note: you may be able to apply for part-time internships (maximum 20 hours per week) but not for full-time internships while you are studying on your Student visa; this includes the summer vacation period before you have completed your course.

Internships are not available to PhD students on a Student visa, as this would necessitate a break in your studies. There may be a possible exception where the internship is a required part of your studies. For further information please contact the Immigration Advice Team

Find out more about placements and internships on our work experience page.

Apply for a job

Get a National Insurance number

  • At the start of your job hunting, apply for a National Insurance Number (see your rights at work for how to do this). Your employer will expect you to have your National Insurance Number either when you start work or shortly afterwards. 
  • Your NI number is a unique personal reference number for your tax/employment affairs - everyone working in the UK needs to have one, issued free of charge.
  • If your employer has not asked for your National Insurance Number, you should check that you are on their payroll, otherwise you risk breaking the visa rules.

Be realistic

You may be hoping to get a job related to your course of study, or based on your previous work experience in your home country (particularly if you are a postgraduate student). This may not be easy to find when you need part-time work to fit round your timetable. A lot of part-time jobs are advertised in hospitality (cafes and bars), retail (shops and supermarkets), or care work, and you may not get your perfect job immediately. But remember, all opportunities can help you develop skills, and understand more about British culture and business - which should benefit you in the future.

Alternatives to paid work

  • In the UK volunteering is an important way of gaining skills and work experience to add to your CV - and it's a good way to have fun and make new friends too.
  • Find out about our volunteering projects; there are also volunteering opportunities with YUSU and in your college. At the University of York we offer a range of exciting volunteering opportunities, including supporting local charities, offering placements in schools and short term volunteering projects helping to make a difference in the local community. If you are interested in completing any volunteering during your time at university we recommend that you obtain a Certificate of Good Conduct from your home country to comply with the suitability checks we have to carry out for volunteers. Information on checks for overseas applicants.
  • You could get involved in a student society and take on extra responsibility by joining their committee.

Improving your English

  • Use every opportunity you can to improve your confidence in written and spoken English if necessary.
  • The Academic Skills Community offers workshops in various areas, including communication and collaboration.
  • International Conversation Afternoons at the University of York give you the opportunity to improve your speaking and listening skills (and meet new people from other cultures)
  • See Alternatives to paid work above for more suggestions.

Further help

  • Check out our programme of events and your timetable to find sessions on finding work and preparing effective applications - there are likely to be some sessions in your department.
  • Information for international students from Careers and Placements and the Immigration Advice Service (work during and after your studies, and returning home)
  • If you need further help, please talk to us.

Who to contact

Careers and Placements
  • Harewood Way, University of York, York, YO10 5DD
  • Students and York graduates can contact us or book an appointment via Handshake
  • Tel: +44 (0)1904 332685
Opening hours
  • Monday - Friday, 10am - 5pm (during semesters)
  • Vacation opening times vary - please check the opening times page