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Working during your studies

Employment restrictions under the Tier 4 (General) student visa route

When you are granted a Tier 4 (General) student 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.

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
  • You cannot be employed (paid or unpaid) 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 work as entertainers only if the work is arranged via the Royal Conservatoire’s External Engagements department and is an assessed part of the student’s course.

The last of these restrictions can significantly affect the type of work that Royal Conservatoire of Scotland students can apply for while studying at RCS. If you need any further clarification please contact

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. For more information on working as a student please refer to the UKCISA website.

It is important to stress that although Tier 4 students 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 rely on securing employment to top-up your living expenses.

Employment restrictions under the short-term student route

If you come to the UK as a short-term student 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 Tier 4 (General) Student Visa. If you do meet those requirements you will have to make an application for a Tier 4 (General) student visa in your home country. You cannot switch from being a short-term student to the Tier 4 (General) 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.

Croatian Nationals
Croatia joined the European Union on 1 July 2013 and UK Visas and Immigration (UKVI) has stated that Croatian nationals will have restricted access to the UK labour market. Although Croatian nationals will no longer be subject to immigration control Croatian students in the UK will need to apply for a worker registration card to be able to work part-time during their studies and undertake a work placement that is part of their course. Please read the UKVI webpage for more information.

If you need any further information about working in the UK then please contact


Finding work

You can find advertisements for jobs in local newspapers, in shops, on notice boards around the Conservatoire and on-line (on websites such as and via recruitment agency websites) The Conservatoire often advertises for ushers and for other part-time vacancies which would be suitable for students, with details being sent round by email.


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

National Insurance Number

Your National Insurance number (NINo) is a unique personal number which is used to record your National Insurance contributions. You do not need to have a NINo before starting work, but you must obtain one when you get a job. You apply for a NINo by calling 0845 600 0643 to make an appointment. Ask what documents you will need to bring to the appointment. You usually need to take your passport, payslips or a letter from your employer confirming that you will be working for them. Your appointment will take place at your nearest Jobcentre Plus office.


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.