As the summer approaches and it is time to sort out university financing and visas, I have read a number of emails regarding working during your studies. Working while you study at Surrey is completely do-able, even as an international student, but there is a lot of information to know! The following is my comprehensive guide:
Before we delve into the process of finding a job, it is important to first discuss your visa and what it allows and prohibits you to do. If you are an international student, you will be studying on a Tier 4 Student visa. A Tier 4 Student visa allows students to work during their studies but limits them to 20 hours per week during term-time. Outside of “term-time,” such as during spring/Easter break, over the winter holiday, or during the summer, students are permitted to work unrestricted. Additionally, it is important to note that the visa classification of work includes unpaid internships. Therefore, if you plan on undertaking an unpaid industry placement (they are actually quite uncommon in the UK) and working a paid position, you will have to ensure the combined total hours of work do not exceed 20 hours.
We are very fortunate here at Surrey to have a Unitemps office located on campus. Unitemps assists students with finding jobs and completing all of the starting paper work. Unitemps also operates payroll for a number of companies and students often input their hours into Unitemps’ website to submit their time sheets.
Apart from Unitemps, Guildford is home to an extremely busy high street and shopping mall lined with retail shops, cafes, and restaurants. The restaurant culture in the UK is very different than the US – in the US, waiters and waitresses typically depend on their tips to make money, whereas in the UK they are paid a living wage, removing the necessity of tips. The UK system makes serving at a restaurant a viable option for steady income and takes the pressure off of picking up extra shifts to make your weekly income goal.
As mentioned previously, there are a number of retail shops and cafes in Guildford. In the UK, it is very common for shops to close quite early (around 6 PM). Some students like this as it keeps them from working very late evenings, allowing them plenty of sleep and time to study. That being said, if your class schedule is intensive and you have class most of the day, it may be a bit more difficult to find a job that fits your schedule. It is definitely not impossible, it may just require a bit of extra time searching.
Lastly, working on campus is a great opportunity for students as it tends to be the most flexible, is close to home, and offers the opportunity to better acquaint with the university. Jobs on campus range from food and beverage jobs (Starbucks, Hillside, Wates House, Young’s Kitchen, etc.), to retail jobs (Simply Fresh, Apple Seed), administrative jobs, and more. Specific to international students, the international student ambassador program is a fantastic work option as it not only pays, but also gives you the opportunity to connect with new students before they even arrive on campus. You will receive an email about student ambassador recruitment early fall semester.
Working as You Study
Working as you study may feel a bit overwhelming. It is important to remember that the teaching culture in the UK differs from the US in the respect that it requires a lot of independent learning. The majority of modules expect students to spend over 60 hours reading material and completing work on their own time. Because of this, if your timetable looks sparse, do not make the mistake of assuming that you are free to work in all of the time that you do not have class scheduled.
I recommend taking the first few weeks to truly immerse yourself in your classes, gain a better feeling of how many hours you will be capable of committing to work, and assessing your employment options, rather than applying immediately upon arrival in Guildford.
I hope that this blog post has helped answer any outstanding work questions. If you have any further ones, please do not hesitate to e-mail us at firstname.lastname@example.org. Until next time!