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Regulations and resources for international students

Working in the UK

If you are a European national you can work freely in the UK, with the exception of Croatian nationals. Croatian nationals must obtain worker authorisation before starting employment, the number of hours you can work in a week will be limited. Please read the UKCISA guidance for more information.

If you are from outside the European Economic Area (EEA), it is important to check what your passport sticker (entry clearance or residence permit) or identity card says before seeking employment. If you are able to work whilst you are studying in the UK, the hours and type of work you are able to do will be restricted.

Eligibility to work

If you have a Tier 4 visa the amount of hours you can work will be restricted during term time and you must ensure you know what term time means for you, paid or unpaid work counts towards the weekly limit. From the 6 April 2017 a ‘week’ has been defined by the Home Office as Monday to Sunday. You won’t be able to be self-employed, engage in business activity, be a professional sportsperson including a sports coach, an entertainer, take a permanent full-time job or work as a doctor or dentist in training. If you withdraw from your course you must stop working immediately. Your employer will need a letter from our International Services Team to help prove your right to work.

Short-term students cannot do any type of work in the UK including unpaid work and work placements as part of a course.

If you work when you shouldn’t, do any type of work that isn’t allowed or, you work more hours than allowed in any one week, you will be breaching the conditions of your visa which is an offence and has very serious consequences. Please read the information on our immigration pages to find out more including, how to obtain a letter from us for your employer and if you have any questions or doubts seek immigration advice from us, before you start work.

If you have a non-student visa check your eligibility to work in the UK through the Home Office website.

National Insurance Number

To apply for a National Insurance number, you need to contact Jobcentre National Insurance Number Allocation Service
Telephone 0345 6000 643 (lines are open Monday to Friday, 8am - 6pm).

You will be advised to either:

  • complete and return the Fastpath Application Form
  • attend an interview at a Jobcentre Plus office

The closest Jobcentre Plus office which handles National Insurance Number applications to both our Colchester and Southend Campuses is Gemini House, 88 New London Road, Chelmsford CM2 0PD.

The International Students' Association, part of the Students' Union, arrange National Insurance number interviews at our Colchester Campus at various points in the year.

Applying for work

Many international students face challenges in explaining the qualifications they have obtained to UK employers. We offer a useful guide on explaining international qualifications (.pdf).

The National Academic Recognition Information Centre (NARIC) provide a service whereby you can apply for a Statement of Comparability, for a small fee, which would provide suitable clarification about your previous qualifications when making work applications.

Further advice and information

Working outside the UK

Make use of our information and resources for job seeking outside the UK.