9 March 2022
Undoubtedly, student life comes with a lot of fun and interesting experiences—which is also accompanied by a lot of debits! Sad, but true. Luckily, Edinburgh has numerous part-time work opportunities that can help you make the most of student life without necessitating a Tesco meal-deal diet.
Rules on working part-time for international students
Once you arrive in the UK and finish your student registration formalities, you will receive your Biometric Residence Permit (BRP). This will specify the hours you can work part-time as a student. In some cases, this might be indicated on your passport sticker.
Usually, a postgraduate student can work 20 hours a week during term time and longer (almost double) during university vacation time. Your work must be temporary, not permanent, and you can't set up your own business or be self-employed.
As per UKCISA (the UK Council for International Student Affairs) a student can work up to 20 hours a week in term time if you are studying for a qualification at degree level or above (RQF level 6 or SCQF level 9 or higher) and full-time outside term time (for study at all levels), which includes vacations.1
The minimum you can be paid (national minimum wage) is the same for students as everyone else in the UK. The national minimum wage changes every year in April.2
Below are the minimum wage rates per hour from April 2022:
- Workers aged 23 and over: £9.50 (previously £8.91 from April 2021)
- Workers aged 21 to 22: £9.18 (previously £8.36 from April 2021
- Workers aged 18 to 20: £6.83 (previously £6.56 from April 2021)
What I have noticed from my experience and that of my friends is that you usually get on average £9–£11 per hour.
Where can you work?
Edinburgh has many bars, restaurants, coffee shops, cafés, retail shops and so on that are always looking to hire part-time student staff. The recruitment process isn't very tedious, and most employers offer flexible working hours (but do build your rapport with them!).
If not, the University also offers a variety of part-time work opportunities. These can be with the Business School, Information Services Group, and the Edinburgh University Students' Association, to name just a few!
Lastly, you can also network and find roles more relevant to your academic path or expertise. But make sure to check the up-to-date rules when working with corporate or other such organisations.
Okay, now that we know the basic details about working part time as a student, here's my personal experience of working alongside studying.
I'm an MSc Marketing and Business Analysis student at the Business School, and trust me, when they say it's a rigorous one-year programme, they mean it. When I moved to Edinburgh in September, it took the first one to two months to understand my environment and just settle in. Eventually, I managed to get two part-time roles that I currently work in. It sounds hectic, but management skills is all you need (an understanding team is also a plus!).
I am a Student Ambassador at the University of Edinburgh Business School and for my MSc course. As a Student Ambassador, I support marketing and recruitment conversion activity by speaking to prospective students at open days, recruitment webinars, and through the Unibuddy platform. Additionally, I conceptualise content for the social media pages and the University's website. As an ambassador, you can also assist the Business School team in their work—be it admin tasks, photo/video shoots and a lot more! The School selects ~20 Student Ambassadors, one to three from each MSc course. And yes, this is a paid role based on the hours you clock in. We are paid at the end of each month.
I also work as a Marketing Assistant with the Business School's Student Development Team. My role involves thinking and executing new ideas to promote the Team and engage with the MSc students, mainly through social media platforms. I also represent the interests of students around me and help the team understand what's happening on the student side of things, helping to shape developments of the service for students. This role also requires me to coordinate and work with different School departments.
I cannot emphasise enough how understanding and warm the School team is. From helping me settle into the city and my new role, to making work flexible during submission weeks, I've received tremendous support from both my managers. Juggling two job roles and academia is in no way an easy task, but being the person I am, I plan and structure all my tasks efficiently. I decide what tasks need to be done ahead of time and block time in my calendar at the beginning of the week to ensure they are completed as planned.
Here are a few more student experiences:
Working at the Information Services Group is a great opportunity to see how the University operates from the inside. The Project Management Office (PMO) gave me a lot of flexibility for choosing and changing my schedule according to my classes. PMO Administrator is a role that fits very well with my masters, and the project management work environment is great to hit the ground running with hands-on experience.
Working part-time is a great way to make some extra money which, given the cost of living as a student in Edinburgh, can come in handy. I work in a restaurant, and this has been an incredible channel for me to meet many different people and familiarise myself with the city and the local culture. While making extra money is good, balancing your academic work, social life, and part-time work is important, which can be incredibly challenging (it has been for me). Personally, I find spending 15 to 18 hours a week on part-time work sufficient to have a good balance.
To sum it all up, there are plenty of opportunities available to work part-time in Edinburgh, and if you really search for it, you might find something relevant to your career path as well. As long as you plan your schedule and set priorities, you can easily manage work with academia and have a lot of fun!
Mahima Jaisinghani is studying for the MSc Marketing and Business Analysis.