2020-21 has been very difficult for many international students due to the pandemic. The idea of living in a completely different country has been quite anticlimactic due to the COVID-19 restrictions and the new normality. However, one of the major issues was also struggling with money.
Luckily, international students at the University of Manchester can receive financial support if they are really struggling with expenses. The Living Cost Support Fund provides financial support to the UK and international students who are struggling with paying accommodation costs, food shopping, study-related costs, etc. You must, however, prove that you or your sponsor cannot cover your financial needs.
Despite this generous support, there is another option if you need some extra money in the UK as an international student and you are not exactly in an extremely difficult situation. Under a Tier 4 Visa, you are allowed a maximum of 20 hours a week, which is a part-time job. I have been living in the UK for 4 years as an international student and so far, it has not been very difficult for me to find a part-time job. Usually, the main concerns students have are if they will have enough time to study and work at the same time and the procedures needed to be able to get a job in the UK.
First of all, the 20 hours a week limit has been carefully thought as the maximum amount of hours a student can work and handle their studies at the same time. Your employer can also give you fewer hours than that, depending on the position you are applying to. I can tell you from my experience that working 20 hours or less a week actually made me more proactive and forced me to organise my times more efficiently.
Since I know there are some days in which I must work in my part-time job, I have the motivation and the drive of responsibility to start working on my assignments as early as possible. Currently, I am almost finished with all my assignments for the second semester and I gave myself plenty of time to research and edit them properly too. The other classmates who also work part-time are near finishing them all as well. However, my other classmates who do not work part-time are stressing out because they have just started, and all their deadlines are piling up! On the other hand, I have more free time and working in a part-time job is actually a refreshing escape from lectures, seminars and essay writing.
In a nutshell, there are 4 things you have to do if you wish to work as a student in the UK.
1. Open a UK bank account.
In most cases, the employer will pay you through bank transfer so you need a UK account in British Pounds.
2. Apply for a National Insurance Number.
This is a set of numbers and letters that the employer needs to know so that they can pay you and officially have you as a formal worker (with all the benefits and protections you are entitled to). The UK Government website guides you step by step on how to do it.
3. Look for a part-time job.
There are plenty of ways to do this, the university Student’s Union website has a section called “Job Shop” where some employers post jobs for students. Alternatively, you can use websites such as Indeed.com but make sure the position you are applying to is a part-time position.
4. My recommendation: make sure the position you are applying to is a “Zero hour” contract or “Casual Worker” contract.
This means that there is not a requirement of time you have to work for the employer. You can terminate your employment at any time (subject to the notice period stated on your contract) and you are not required to work every time they ask you to. You can negotiate your available hours with your employer.