A Comprehensive Guide for Working Part-Time in the UK for Indian Students: Updated 2020

How crucial is it to work part-time in UK? Is it essential? How many hours can you work part-time in the UK? How many hours can you work as a student in the UK? You must have all these questions bubbling inside your head. To anyone who you would have asked about studying in the UK, they must have told you about how they managed their personal expenditure by choosing to work part-time in the UK. Let me tell you something, unless you absolutely need to work and that too if you get a job at your university, you should work, otherwise it would be difficult to balance the two things together.

My experience working part-time as waiting staff and as a cashier at betting shop has not been the most wonderful one. It was not because of the people I was working with, but simply because the work took a toll on me after sometime.

Since, I had not balanced the two things before, I had no idea what challenges would I face, thereby at times the work just took my mind off of the thing that I had to focus on.

Is it bad to work part-time in UK?

That is not what I am saying, it is definitely a learning experience and you if you get a chance you should grab it. However, you must understand the purpose of you spending thousands of pounds, or lakhs of rupees or taka and coming to the UK.

The money gets to your head

Because when you are working part-time and especially when you are young, the regular inflow of money seems very satisfying irrespective of how focused you are. And when you have that additional amount of money coming in to your bank account every month, you tend to feel that you can spend the money on buying things that you do not necessarily need and then eventually all these things eat into your time.

Furthermore, despite my hardest attempts, I could not secure a job at the university due to shortage of vacancies.

The biggest benefit of working at the university is that everyone is aware that you are a student and is ready to support you throughout. You can have an understanding boss that I had while I was working in retail, but nothing replaces working at university. As, in the latter, case everyone is aware of your assignments, dissertations, exams and all the essential stuff that you came to the UK for. And, they are extremely supportive.

How much can I earn while working in the UK as a student?

Depends on where you are working, however the minimum wage is set at £7.70/h (about INR 700) if you are between 21 and 24 and £8.21/h (about INR 755) if you are over 25. This is not a fair wage in my honest opinion. Since you will only be allowed to work for 20 hours per week as a student coming to the UK, you will hardly earn about £650 a month. Unless you are staying in an incredibly cheap accommodation or your current education loan is covering your accommodation fees, you will not be able to live off of this money. Definitely not in London.

There would be some shops or stores that might offer you London location allowance and you might get an additional £0.70 – £0.90 raise in your wage per hour. But that would not make much of a difference as your wage would only go up by about £60 a month.

How can I earn more while working in the UK as a student?

Do you actually need more in the first instance? This is one decision that you will have to make for yourself. If you have taken an education loan which covers your accommodation fees then a meagre £600 will be enough to get you. You will need to live frugally. If you have not calculated your monthly expenditure yet, then do it here.

£600 does not sound a lot but then again if you are living alone and have your accommodation fees covered then this will be enough to get you by. If, however, you do feel that you need to earn more because of your lifestyle, or perhaps because you have to send money back home or you have a family to support here in the UK, then you can work over-time.

Can I work for more than 20 hours in the UK as a student?

Legally, no. But realistically the minimum living wage and the 20-hour working limit during term-time do not sit well together and there are several people who tend to work over-time to suffice for the shortage of income. Now, this is not something that I would, in my sane and rule-compliant mind advise you to do, however if you do feel that you need to work overtime because you are not able to sustain yourself with the money that you are getting currently, then you can do cash-in-hand jobs where you get cash for the number of hours that you work thereby saving you from the government’s scanner of getting caught or penalised for working more than the legal limit.

I know a lot of people who actually do that and as they have told me, their experience has been that for those kind of jobs, you will not be requested to show your passport or your residence proof in the UK (which is your Biometric Residence Permit – BRP) and you will get an amount fixed by your employer at the end of every week or month. You can then use that cash to deposit in a UK-based bank or use it for all the transactions that you make such as shopping for groceries etc.

What kind of cash-in-hand jobs can I get working as a student in the UK?

The first response that I have for this is the job of a delivery driver. Yes, you can work as a delivery driver in the city that you live in provided that you have a provisional driving license in the UK (which is not hard to get), a vehicle that you buy (or rent) and pay the insurance for and enough time to do that kind of a job. You can also get a job as a telephone marketer, in-person marketer/salesperson where you will have to sell off a product over the phone or work for a small company by going to door-to-door selling their products. You can even work as a cashier at any of the many off-license stores in the UK. Do not expect the pay to be great, though!

My take on working part-time in the UK

(video coming soon)