5 Things You’ll Need to work as a student in the UK

Working part time ( or full time)  as an international student is a great way to gain significant work experience and relieve financial pressure. Over 80% of international students work while studying in the UK to ease financial strain. The experience you gain from working could be added to your CV – I mean the relevant ones. This could give you an edge over other applicants. It is also a way to meet new people and make new friends . Please find below 5 basic things you will need to work as an international student in the UK.

1) UK Student Visa.

You will need a student visa. This is mandatory as your employer will need documentary evidence that you are legally permitted to work in the UK. Note that before you are granted visa by the British High Commission in your home country, you will need to provide substantial evidence that you have enough founds to study in the UK.  Be aware that the UK Border Agency has now created a list of more than 2,000 banks and financial institutions who can no longer provide evidence to verify a student has sufficient funds for their course. If a bank is on the list, a student citing that institution will not be granted a visa.


2) A Bank Account.

You will need a bank account as every money you earn will be paid to you through your bank account. Some employers will choose to pay you   ‘cash in hand’ so as to evade tax and reduce their wages bill. This is immensely wrong and must be reported to the HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC) office. The HMRC , formed on 18 April 2005, is responsible for ensuring that the right amount of tax is paid and at the right time.  Don’t  for any reason whatsoever take part in such a fraud.

There are many Banks in the UK that would gladly open a student account for you. But my advice is take your time and open an account with the bank that offers you the best deal. What is a student account? A Student account is a bank account made for those in higher education. It lets you pay money in and out, and offer additional benefits such as an interest-free overdraft.

You’ll get a debit card, which allows you to pay for things in shops and online without the need to withdraw cash. An overdraft facility allows you to spend more money than you have in your account, up to a certain limit. Student accounts provide a set level of  interest-free overdraft for the duration of the study year.

My candid advice is that you go for an account that offers you a % percent overdraft with a debit card you can use on an ATM. An overdraft facility can sometimes be handy when you are tight on cash. However, you will be required to pay back the overdraft as It is a sort of temporary loan given to you by the bank. One word of caution– please stay within your overdraft limit otherwise you will be charged a fee if you exceed it.

 How to Open a Bank Account

It is very easy to open a bank account. Periodically banks in the UK send their employees to universities to open accounts for new students who require one. Otherwise you can walk into any of the banks on the nearest High street from where you live to open one. To open an account you will need your university offer letter, a photo ID, and  a confirmation of your UK address. Usually,  your international passport and your tenancy agreement should be enough.

Most universities have an International Student Support office. They should be able to advise you on the location of the nearest bank or building society if you need any help.

3) National insurance(NI) Number

Every worker, aged 16 and over, as long as their earnings are more than a certain level  are expected to pay national Insurance contributions in the UK. Your pay National Insurance contributions to build up your entitlement to certain state benefits, including the State Pension. The contributions you pay depend on how much you earn and whether you’re employed or self-employed. You stop paying National Insurance contributions once you reach State Pension age( currently 65 for men and increasing to 65 for women by 2018)

As a working student, you will need a National Insurance Number. This number is your personal account  and unique reference.  It  is used by HM Revenue & Customs and the Department of Work and Pensions to ensure that any National Insurance contributions and tax you pay are properly recorded to your account.

Note that It is not necessary to have a National Insurance number before commencing work. If you provide employers with your visa, date of birth and your gender, this will be enough for them to employ you.  Call JobCentre Plus 0845 600 0643 (8am – 6pm Monday to Friday) once you arrive in the UK.  A face-to face interview  will be arranged for you by JobCentre plus and you will be informed beforehand of the papers and documentation you will need to take along with you to the NI  interview. You should receive a National Insurance Number several weeks thereafter. The whole process should take no longer than 6 weeks.

4) Be Proactive.

Marva Collins, an American educator, once said ”Success don’t come to you…, you go to it”. This is also applicable to finding part-time and full-time  work in the UK. Start your job-hunting without delay when you arrive. Start first by preparing a good CV detailing your work experience.  Head into the government-run JobCentre Plus and let them know you are looking for a job. They can help with job-hunting. If you can’t go there physically, visit the JobCentre Plus website here.  Note that is is possible to get a job at the university premises as well.

5) Be everywhere

.Don’t stop your search at the Job Centre Plus office. Instead walk  into town and have a word with the high street temping agencies about getting yourself on their list. Register with as many temping agencies you can find. Go online and register for Job e-mail alerts. This is what I mean when I say be everywhere. Remember, Part-time work offers an opportunity to add new skills and new interests to your CV, making you a more attractive and employable candidate when you graduate!


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