Getting a Job (as an International Student)

One of the many reasons that I chose Surrey as the university to attend is because of its vast Professional Training Year (PTY) program. Essentially in the third year of your degree, students take time off academics to work (work can be paid or voluntary depending on your placement and the program you’re in). For my degree, Biomedical Sciences, most of the placements are paid.

This is a fantastic opportunity because you get experience as well as some £££ to pay off that tuition. I’ve heard some students even make enough in one year to pay off their entire third year tuition costs! The experience is also very valuable and I think it really really helps prepare students for life after their degree. Some students return to their placement after finishing off their degree, which is pretty cool and basically means you have a job as soon as you get out.

PTY happens in the third year. There are still the first two years of your undergrad program to go through before that happens. A lot of students (including me) look for jobs to get some experience and earn on the side. There are plenty of opportunities in town and in the university for part-time work. In the town, you get your basic — retail, restaurants, bar-tending etc.

The university itself also employs students. I believe working for the uni itself is a much better idea as this way, your academic timetable comes first. They will completely understand if you have class. You don’t have to work a set of hours per week, and your work hours can be worked around your class and study hours. There are many opportunities, working in shops and restaurants around campus is a popular choice for many students.

This may help finding local and University part-time work

Now, to be able to work and get paid in the UK, you need something called a National Insurance number. My fellow Canadians, this is exactly like our SIN number (Social Insurance). Without it, you cannot be paid and you’d have to pay high amounts of taxes. Based on personal experience, I will tell you this: If you KNOW you are going to be looking for part time work, please apply for your NI number ASAP. The application takes about 4-6 weeks to process depending on the rush at their office. (You need to be in the country to apply for one). Its very simple – you call them up and they take your personal details and your reason for applying. Go here for more info on that! Sometimes, they might ask you to come in for an interview (this did not happen to me). After this, you get an application form in the mail in about 1-2 weeks. There are very specific details on completing this form (Black pen, capital letters only). Then you put the form in a pre-paid envelope and pop it into the post and after this, you just wait 4-6 weeks for your NI number in the mail (its just a letter with your number on it). The wait was the hardest part – I’m HORRIBLE at waiting for things.

It is also helpful to remember that students on a Tier 4 Student Visa can only work 20 hours/week during term time.

I’m really hoping this helped. If you have any more questions, please email me at and I will help in any way I can!