How Many Hours Can a Student Work Legally in the UK?

How Many Hours Can a Student Work Legally in the UK

Striking a balance between work and study in the UK is a common concern for students. Many seek part-time employment to supplement their income, gain valuable work experience, or cover their living expenses.

However, it’s essential to understand the legal limitations surrounding student work hours to ensure compliance with the law while juggling academic responsibilities.

This article will explore how many hours a student can work legally in the UK, providing clarity on regulations, exemptions, and important considerations.

How Many Hours Can a Student Work Legally in the UK?

A student visa granted for full-time degree-level studies permits you to work for a maximum of 20 hours per week during term time. This limit encompasses all forms of work, paid or unpaid, and across one or more organizations.

It’s important to note that this cap cannot be averaged over an extended period; it must not exceed 20 hours within a single week. The Home Office defines a ‘week’ as seven days beginning on a Monday.

The University imposes stricter working restrictions, as detailed above, which must be strictly adhered to.

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How many hours can a student work per week?

Choosing to work while studying in the UK is a cool choice. However, the thing is, as a student in the UK with a student visa, you are only allowed to work 20 hours per week during term time.

This is so it won’t swamp with your studies. However, during vacations, you can switch to full-time hours and make some extra cash.

This might vary depending on your specific visa, so, do well to check your visa for variations.

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How many hours can a high school student work?

Many high school students can work for several hours in the UK however, this will be dependent on their age.

For instance, high school students aged 13-14 years can work up to 12 hours per week during term time. This is capped at 2 hours per day on weekdays and Sundays and then 5 hours on Saturdays.

During school holidays, they can work a maximum of 5 hours per day on weekdays and just 2 hours on Sundays, totaling up to 25 hours per week.

On the other hand, students aged between 15 and 16 years olds have more free time. During term time, they can work up to 12 hours per week just like the set mentioned earlier. They have a longer daily limit of 2 hours per day on weekdays and about 8 hours on Saturdays.

However, during school holidays, they can work up to 35 hours per week, and up to 5 hours on Saturdays and Sundays capped at 2 hours each.

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Full-Time Work During Official Vacation Periods

Students on a student visa can work full-time during official university vacation periods. However, the timing of term and vacation periods varies depending on the level of study.

It is important to verify these dates before engaging in full-time work, including internships or placements unless they are an integral part of your course.

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Types of Work Restrictions

While students on a student visa can engage in most types of work, certain restrictions apply:

Business activity- working for a business in which you have a significant beneficial interest, is also prohibited.

You cannot work in a position intended to fill a permanent full-time vacancy. Specific roles, such as professional sportspersons, entertainers, or doctors/dentists in training, are off-limits.

Also, read: How Many Students Work While at University?

Undertaking an Internship or Work Placement:

Students can undertake internships under specific circumstances:

Undergraduate students can participate in internships during official university vacation periods, provided there is evidence of academic calendar alignment.

Masters students can do the same during official vacation periods, but it is essential to consult the faculty or department for precise dates.

A limited number of Masters courses include short internships/placements as part of the curriculum.

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Volunteering vs. Voluntary Work:

Volunteering is allowed on a student visa, but it is crucial to distinguish it from voluntary work, which is considered unpaid employment.

Voluntary workers typically have contractual obligations, whereas volunteers do not have contracts and should not act as substitutes for employees.

Working After Thesis Submission (PhD Students):

After submitting a thesis for examination, the number of hours you can work depends on the stage of the process. There are distinct periods designated as “vacation” and “return to full-time study,” each with its work hour restrictions.

Working After Studies:

Following the completion of your course and while your visa remains valid, the Home Office permits full-time work on a student visa, subject to the previously mentioned work type restrictions.

It is advisable to contact the International Student Office for clarification on working conditions under a student visa or if considering a switch to the Graduate visa upon successful course completion

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How many hours can a student work legally in the UK?

In the UK, the maximum number of hours a student can work legally during term time is 20 hours per week. This limitation applies to both undergraduate and postgraduate students. It’s important to note that this limit is in place to prioritize students’ academic commitments.

Are there any exceptions to the 20-hour weekly limit during term time?

Yes, there are exceptions. Students on a Tier 4 (General) student visa, now known as the Student Route, are generally subject to the 20-hour limit. However, exceptions include students enrolled in a full-time course below degree level (e.g., foundation courses) or students studying at degree level and above with a work placement or sandwich course as part of their program.

What are the rules regarding student work hours during vacation periods?

During official university vacation periods (e.g., summer, and winter breaks), students can work full-time, which is typically 40 hours per week. This rule provides students with the opportunity to work more hours when they are not attending classes.

Can international students work without any restrictions in the UK?

No, international students, including those on Tier 4 (General) student visas, must adhere to the same work-hour restrictions as domestic students. They are generally limited to 20 hours of work per week during term time and can work full-time during university vacation periods.

What are the consequences of exceeding the allowed work hours as a student in the UK?

Exceeding the allowed work hours can have serious consequences, including visa violations, potential deportation, or jeopardizing future immigration applications. Both employers and students should be aware of these rules to avoid legal complications.


Understanding the legal framework for student work hours in the UK is crucial for maintaining compliance with immigration regulations and ensuring academic success. While the 20-hour limit during term time may seem restrictive, it is designed to prioritize your education.

Exceptions and opportunities to work full-time during vacation periods offer flexibility for students seeking additional income.

Students and employers need to be aware of these regulations to avoid any legal repercussions and enjoy a successful academic and work experience in the UK.



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