Limited support for international students seeking part-time work

By Matthew Webb

International students are struggling to find part-time work compared with domestic students. Working alongside studies can provide a financial lifeline, as well as develop skills and enhance social opportunities, yet international students face several barriers which makes it more difficult to secure a job. 

International students make up around 22% of the total number of students studying in the UK, and the Government has a target to enrol around 600,000 international students annually. This number is steadily increasing, by roughly 4% on last year.

They also provide the UK economy with a boost of between £25m and £28m every year. And whilst around 62% of students studying in the UK are in part-time work, the figure for international students is much lower according to the National Student Money Survey. 

22-year-old Vivienne is a 3rd year Archaeology student studying at Cardiff University. Despite countless attempts to find a part-time job, she feels as though it is much more difficult for her compared to her friends who are from the UK. 

Vivienne said: “I have applied for the same kind of jobs as my friends, but I don’t seem to have the same luck. It feels very unfair, people do not take my application and C.V seriously. I cannot seem to get an interview and I don’t really know what I am doing.” 

Vivienne is yet to secure an interview but is facing the same issues that many international students encounter when trying to find work. Part-time work is vital for some international students, as the financial burden of studying abroad is increasing, as well as the cost of food, rent and travel.

One fundamental issue is that universities do not really teach how to ‘get a job’, or interview techniques. In most cases, international students looking for part-time work have never had an interview beforehand. In addition, C.V’S are often weak, of a poor structure and are not compliant with current application tracking systems. Some employers have concerns over the status of international student visas, as they are permitted to work a maximum of 20 hours per week during term-time. 

These barriers stack the odds firmly against international students, yet the UK Government is looking at ways to support the employment prospects for students from abroad. 

Rishi Sunak is considering increasing the maximum working hours from 20 a week to 30, with the potential to remove a limit altogether. This would improve the chances of students from abroad finding work, which in turn would help the UK economy.

But this is a single measure, and it is evident that further intervention, financial support and training is essential if international students are to face similar prospects as domestic students when looking for part-time work. 

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