Working during your studies

Working during your studies

If you are thinking of looking for part-time work while you are studying in the UK, you need to check your Biometric Residence Permit (BRP) or visa vignette (in your passport) first to see what work conditions UK Visas and Immigration have endorsed your visa with.

If you have a digital visa status please check the email you received from UK Visas and Immigration when your visa was granted.

You will either have a work restriction or prohibition.

Student work restriction

If you are studying on a full-time degree level programme  and  have a Student visa your Biometric Residence Permit (BRP) should state '20 hours max in term time' or similar. If you have a digital visa, your work conditions can be found in your UKVI account. With this endorsement, you can work up to 20 hours per week in term-time and full time in the vacation periods without having to seek any individual permission. See SOAS term dates.

There are restrictions on the type of work you can do: you cannot be self-employed, work freelance or run a business and you cannot be a professional sports person or entertainer. You can also not be medical doctor or dentist in training. UKCISA provides a useful article about working in the UK as a Student visa holder.

A 'week' has been defined in the Immigration Rules as "a period of 7 days beginning with a Monday". It is essential that you work no more than 20 hours in any seven-day period starting on a Monday. If you work irregular hours and / or have more than one employer, you will need to keep accurate records of how many hours you work each day to ensure you are not in breach of your work conditions.

During holidays

You can work full-time during the University holidays periods that applies to your programme of study. If you are an undergraduate, your vacations will be the standard Christmas, Easter and summer vacations that apply to your programme. If you are studying on a one year taught postgraduate programme your vacations will usually be just at Christmas and Easter. The summer is not a vacation period as during this time you are enrolled on your dissertation and you can only work a maximum of 20 hours per week until the official end date of your programme listed on your CAS.

Postgraduate research students

SOAS research degrees are continuous programmes with enrolment running from the first day of the academic session until the day preceding the first day of the next academic session, so September to September each year. You can only work a maximum of 20 hours per week for the duration of your programme.


If the vignette in your passport contains the following wording then you have a prohibition on working in the UK:

  • 'No work or recourse to public funds'
  • 'No recourse to public funds. No work or engaging in business'
  • The equivalent prohibition on a BRP simply says 'NO WORK'.

If you entered the UK using the Standard visitor visa you are prohibited from working. Find out more.

If you have Student visa but have a prohibition endorsed on your BRP, this is likely to be an error that should be an error that should be reported to UK Visas and Immigration for correction. If you have a digital visa contact the SOAS Student Advice Service for assistance.

National Insurance Number (NIN)

International Students wishing to work must apply for a National Insurance number, which will enter you into the UK tax system. You can apply when you are looking for work or have found a job.

Income tax

If you work in the UK, you may need to pay Income Tax and National Insurance contributions depending on how much you earn. For more information on income tax, visit GOV.UK.