Working during your studies

Information on the work international students can do while they are studying at Ulster University.


If you are studying with us, there is a maximum number of hours per week that you can work during term-time and full-time during the vacation periods.

  • Student Visa Holders

    The number of hours that you may work per week will be written on your 30-day visa vignette and your BRP, and will be determined by the level of your course:

    Students below degree level

    • Your visa permits you to work no more than 10 hours in any one week during term-time.
    • A 'week' is defined by the Home Office as a period of 7 days beginning with a Monday.
    • This includes paid and unpaid work, and work for one or more organisation.
    • Your visa permits you to work full-time during official vacation periods.
    • Term and vacation dates differ depending on the level of study you are undertaking so it is important that you check these before undertaking full-time work.

    Undergraduate students at degree level or above

    • Your visa permits you to work no more than 20 hours in total in any one week during term-time.
    • A 'week' is defined by the Home Office as a period of 7 days beginning with a Monday.
    • This includes paid and unpaid work, and work for one or more organisation.
    • Your visa permits you to work full-time during official vacation periods.
    • Term and vacation dates differ depending on the level of study you are undertaking so it is important that you check these before undertaking full-time work.

    Term time and vacation periods

    Undergraduate students

    • If you are an undergraduate student, term-time is considered to be autumn semester (semester 1) and spring semester (semester 2).
    • You may only work the maximum number of hours permitted between the start and end dates of each of these two semesters.
    • You may work full-time during vacation periods each year: Christmas vacation, Easter vacation and summer vacation.

    Postgraduate students

    • For postgraduate students, term-time is considered to be autumn semester (semester 1), spring semester (semester 2) and summer semester (semester 3).
    • You may only work the maximum number of hours permitted between the start and end dates of each of these three semesters.
    • Taught postgraduate students have two vacation periods per year:  Christmas vacation and Easter vacation. You may work full-time during these vacation periods.
    • The summer semester is not a vacation period for postgraduate students as you are expected to study your dissertation module on a full-time basis.

    Research students     

    • The vacation periods in the academic calendar do not apply to research students. University regulations permit research students to take 30 days’ vacation per year.
    • There are no fixed dates for vacations, and you must agree vacation dates in advance with your supervisor. You may work full-time during these agreed vacation periods.
    • University regulations permit research students to work no more than 6 hours per week.

    View our academic calendar for more information on term times


    Working restrictions

    Students on student visas can work in many different areas of employment with some restrictions.

    Students must not:

    • be self-employed
    • engage in business activity (this includes any business activity related to a business that you have in your home country)
    • take a permanent full-time job
    • be employed as a professional sportsperson, including as a sports coach
    • be employed as an entertainer
    • work as a doctor or dentist in training, unless you are on the foundation programme.

    If you withdraw from your studies at Ulster University, or you are withdrawn from your studies, you will immediately lose the right to work in the UK.

    If you withdraw from your studies in order to take up full-time employment, it is your responsibility to obtain a visa that will allow you to work.


    Working for an employer based outside the UK

    If your employer is outside the UK, you are still only permitted to work the hours permitted on your visa during term-time. You should also check with HMRC whether you are required to pay National Insurance contributions in the UK.


    Applying for a National Insurance number

    At the moment, due to COVID 19, the government offices are closed in Northern Ireland and no appointments to get a national insurance number are available.

    You may apply for and start a part time job without this as long as you have proof. (i.e., your BRP) that you have the right to work.

    You can then make an appointment for a national insurance number once the offices re open.


    Work placements that are part of your course

    If you are required to undertake a work placement as an assessed and integral part of your course, your visa will allow this.

    During your work placement you will continue to be registered as an Ulster University student and we will continue to monitor your attendance and engagement in your work throughout your work placement.

    If you are studying at degree level or above, your work placement must not be more than 50% of the duration of your course.  If you are studying at below degree level, your work placement must not be more than 33% of the duration of your course.

    Your visa does not allow you to take a Leave of Absence from your studies in order to undertake a work placement.

  • Short-term students

    If you are in the UK as a short-term student, your passport sticker or the stamp in your passport will say "No work" or "Work prohibited". This means that you are not allowed to:

    • take paid employment
    • take unpaid employment
    • be self-employed
    • do a work placement, even if it is part of your course

    If you want to be able to work during your studies, you will need a student visa. Please contact the contact the compliance team to discuss this.  We cannot guarantee that you will be entitled to a student visa.

  • EU/EEA Nationals

    All EEA and Swiss national students can work in the UK. You can work during or after studies without any restrictions.