Employment restrictions under the Student route

When you are granted a Student route visa you are permitted to:

  • work part-time during term time*
  • work full-time during vacation or holiday periods**
  • do a work placement as part of your course
  • work as a Student Union Sabbatical Officer for up to two years

* The definition of part-time is 20 hours per week if you are studying a course at or above SCQF level 9 (i.e. degree level). Since 6 April 2017, ‘week’ has been defined in the Immigration Rules as “a period of 7 days beginning with a Monday”. If you work irregular hours and/or have more than one employer, you will need to keep detailed records of how many hours you work each day so that you can be sure that you are not in danger of breaching your work condition by exceeding 10 or 20 hours in any seven-day period, starting on a Monday.

** The term full-time is not defined but you should work on the assumption that it is around 35 hours in any seven-day period.

There are some restrictions to the type of work you can do which are:

  • you cannot fill a permanent full-time vacancy
  • you cannot be self-employed or engage in business activity
  • you cannot be employed as a professional sportsperson or entertainer***

***Students on the BA Modern Ballet programme, BA/MA Musical Theatre programmes, and students on courses of study within the School of Music are permitted to be employed as entertainers only if the work is arranged via the Royal Conservatoire’s External Engagements department and the opportunity is an assessed and integral part of the student’s course. Students on any other programmes of study cannot be employed as entertainers.

If a Student route visa-holder wishes to take part in entertainment as an amateur then this permitted. ‘Amateur’ is defined as “a person who engages in creative activity solely for personal enjoyment and who is not seeking to derive a living from the activity”. A Student route visa-holder taking part in entertainment as an amateur cannot be in receipt of payment of any kind, including expenses.

More information can be found at UKCISA – What kind of work can you do? and How many hours can you work?

If you need any further clarification on your work restrictions please contact international@rcs.ac.uk

As long as you abide by the above conditions you do not need to notify UK Visas and Immigration or the Conservatoire of your employment. You can also work full-time once your course has finished and you still have valid leave to remain, however, you must not break the conditions laid out above as this will be dealt with severely by UK Visas and Immigration and could affect the success of any future UK immigration application you may wish to submit.

It is important to stress that although those on the Student route are permitted to work (within the regulations noted above) the Conservatoire’s programmes of study are very intensive and you may not have time to work. You shouldn’t solely rely on securing employment to top-up your living expenses.

Employment restrictions under the Visitor route

If you come to the UK as a Visitor for the purpose of short-term study then your passport will have a stamp that says ‘No Work’ or ‘Work Prohibited’. This means that you are not allowed to:

  • take paid employment
  • take unpaid employment
  • do a work placement – even if it is part of your course
  • do voluntary work (but you can volunteer****)

If you are planning on working when you study with us you will need to check that you meet the requirements for the Student route visa. If you do meet those requirements you will have to make an application for a Student route visa in your home country. You cannot switch from being a Visitor to the Student route whilst in the UK.

****Voluntary workers often have a contract of employment and are also usually remunerated in kind whereas volunteers don’t have a contract of employment, don’t take the place of an employee, do not receive payment in kind and usually help a charity or voluntary organisation.

If you need any further information about working in the UK then please contact international@rcs.ac.uk

EEA and Swiss Nationals

All EEA and Swiss national students can work in the UK without restriction if they have entered the UK on or before 31 December 2020 and applied for the Settlement/Pre-Settlement Scheme before 30 June 2021. For information about Brexit please go tohttps://www.ukcisa.org.uk/Information–Advice/EEA–Swiss-Students/Brexit-what-we-know-for-EEA-students-and-their-family

Finding work

You can find advertisements for jobs in local newspapers, in shops, on notice boards around the Conservatoire and online on sites such as:

You can also approach recruitment agencies who specialise in areas of work such as hospitality, retail and administration.

The Conservatoire often advertises for ushers and for other part-time vacancies which would be suitable for students, with details being sent around by email or on the vacancies page at https://www.rcs.ac.uk/vacancies/


Income Tax and National Insurance

You will have to pay income tax if you earn more than a specified personal allowance in any tax year as well as National Insurance. The Low Income Tax Reform Group has produced a special information guide on income tax for international students.

To work in the UK you will need a National Insurance Number (NINO). Further information can be found at UKCISA – Employers, Tax and National Insurance


Employer obligations

UK employers have a number of legal duties towards their employees. These include:

  • anti-discrimination measures
  • health and safety requirements
  • the obligation to pay the minimum wage
  • the obligation to comply with laws relating to maximum working hours and breaks
  • the duty to pay National Insurance contributions and to provide wage slips