UK govt mulls letting international students work more part-time hours

student working hours
International students in the UK may be in luck as the government considers increasing working hours. Source: Martin Hayhow/AFP

Prime Minister Rishi Sunak and his government are looking at plans to increase the international student working hours limit — or even remove it entirely, according to the Daily Mail.

Generally, those with a Tier 4 student visa can only work 20 hours a week when their term is in session. They are allowed to work longer hours during holidays.

With this suggestion, students would be able to work 30 hours or more in a week.

This plan, however, is still very much in the nascent stage and has yet to be accepted and implemented.

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Prime Minister Rishi Sunak and his government are looking at plans to increase the international student working hours limit. Source: James Glossop/AFP

Why is the UK suddenly considering increasing international student working hours?

The UK wants to create conditions that will promote economic growth.

That’s because the country is facing labour shortages. The country’s unemployment rate was at 3.7% and 1.27 million people aged 16 and above were unemployed, according to UK Labour Market Statistics. 

To reduce the unemployment rate, the government is looking for ways to encourage domestic and international students to take on more part-time jobs — especially in the hospitality and retail industries. 

In an interview with the Daily Mail, Prime Minister Rishi Sunak stated that companies are “crying out for workers.” Lifting the cap on international student working hours is “part of a swathe of ideas being considered” as they think of “what more to do to remove barriers and encourage students to work.”

Home to some of the most prestigious universities in the world, ranks the UK as the “Top Destination in the World to Study Abroad” in 2023.

How do other countries regulate international student working hours?

The UK is one of many countries that have resorted to an increase in working hours for international students.

Last year, Canada took similar measures to change the working hour policy. Full-time international students can now work more than 20 hours a week until the end of 2023. 

Likewise, Canada faced a similar issue. They raised the working hours as a means to increase their labour force since businesses were struggling to fill job vacancies across the country — and Canada was successful. 

The country’s unemployment rate fell slightly to 5% in December, and over 104,000 jobs were added by the end of 2022, according to the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (CBC)

“The ability to work more hours means they will be better able to provide for themselves and their families,” says Nicole Schmidt, president of the University of Calgary Students’ Union to CBC.

The UK is reportedly considering following in Canada’s footsteps, we can anticipate the same improvements. 

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Working part-time can help students earn much-needed side income. Source: Lillian Suwanrumpha/AFP

Increase in international student working hours: How will this help?

In 2021-22, the UK hosted 680,000 international students

This increase or potential removal of the working hour limit benefits not only the economy, but also these students. 

Students could ease their financial burden — which is crucial for international students who are grappling with the cost of living crisis and exorbitant tuition fees. 

Rent, food, and travel expenses are reportedly increasing.