Careers for International Students
- The Careers and Employability Service
- Working in the UK during your studies
- Working in the UK after your studies
- Staying in the UK for postgraduate study
- Going home or to another country
- What happens to international students after their degree?
- Checklist of things to do
These pages have been written to introduce the CES and its resources to all Kent students and graduates from outside the UK. They are intended as a starting point for international students at the University of Kent, in particular those from countries outside the EU/EEA. They aim to help you with your career planning and to outline some of the ways that the Careers and Employability Service (CES) can assist you.
The CES has also produced a leaflet for international students which can be downloaded here - see the screenshot to the right.Not all of the information on these pages will be relevant to all international students but we hope that you will find parts of it helpful. To discuss your individual career plans, come in to the CES and talk to a careers adviser http://www.kent.ac.uk/ces/advice.html
Like all British universities, the University of Kent has a Careers and Employability Service (CES) which aims to help students make decisions and obtain information about their next step after graduation. We can provide help and advice to students of all subjects and nationalities about postgraduate study, choosing a career and obtaining employment and work experience.
How can the CES help me?
We provide a wide range of information and advisory services, including:
- Help with choosing a career : through this website www.kent.ac.uk/careers/Choosing/ChoosingCareer.htm , information booklets and reference files on different careers, computer-assisted guidance programs and discussions with careers advisers;
- Advice on postgraduate study, in the UK and overseas;
- Information about careers, employers and postgraduate study
- Help with making applications, writing CVs and going to interviews;
- Organising talks, workshops, seminars and employer presentations
What we cannot do:
- We do not recommend students to employers: we can help you to find out about employers and to make applications for jobs, but we do not have any special influence with employers;
- We cannot provide specific lists of employers recruiting people from your country or your degree subject
- We are happy to give advice on the structure and content of your application forms and CV, but we cannot write it for you. Neither can we do a thorough proof-reading or correct all mistakes in spelling or grammar, although we will point out any areas that need improving. Your application must be in your own words, and employers will expect graduates from a British university to have a good command of the English language
- We are not qualified to give detailed advice about your entitlement to work in the UK: see below for some useful contacts to help with these questions.
When can I use the Careers and Employability Service?
Students are welcome to use the CES at any time during their studies. However, we would recommend that you start to plan your future career during your second year. Many UK employers will expect applications during the first term of your final year for graduate positions commencing the following autumn. http://www.kent.ac.uk/careers/workin/charity.htm
You may wish to work part-time while you are a student in the UK - either to help finance your studies or to develop the skills and experience which employers will look for when recruiting graduates.
International students are not required to obtain formal permission before taking vacation work, part-time work during term time or a work placement as part of a sandwich course. You should not work for more than 20 hours per week during term time , nor should you run your own business or work as a professional sports person or entertainer.
UKCISA have produced guidelines on working in the UK during your studies, which you can download from www.ukcisa.org.uk/student/working_during.php
The Kent Union Job Shop www.kentunion.co.uk/jobs/about/studentinfo can help you to find part-time work in the local area during your studies. Their website includes advice on application, National Insurance and a section for international students at www.kentunion.co.uk/jobs/internationalstudents. The jobshop@kent office in Canterbury is located in the Mandela Building and is open from Monday to Friday, 09.00 - 17.00. On the Medway campus, you can register and look at the current jobs in the Pilkington Building from Monday to Friday, 10am - 4pmMany major companies, especially in the finance and legal sectors, offer summer internships to students. These are very popular and very competitive so are normally only open to undergraduate students during the summer vacation between their second and final year. Deadlines for applications are often in January and sometimes even during the Autumn term. You can find a list of some employers who offer these internships at www.kent.ac.uk/careers/vacwork.htm#employers
Options after graduation
General information and advice
- UKCISA www.ukcisa.org.uk/student/working_after.php guidelines on working in the UK after your studies
- Guide for International Students produced by the Association of Graduate Careers AdvisoryServices. Covers the topics of working in the UK, working outside the UK and studying in the UK from the international students' perspective, including several case studies. You can download the pdf here.
- Immigration Matters www.immigrationmatters.co.uk
- Migrants’ Rights www.migrantsrights.org.uk
- Working in Scotland Online Seminar www.agcasscotland.org.uk/fti offers a useful seminar for international students considering working in Scotland and the UK more generally. Covers 'How do I find out about jobs?'; 'How do I find work?'; 'Getting a job offer'. Also gives case studies and a links section
- Tier 1 (Graduate Entrepreneur) category of the points-based system
The University of Kent has been accepted onto the Tier 1 Graduate Entrepreneur scheme as an endorsing body. Contact Kent Innovation and Enterprise for details.
Visa and immigration advice
The regulations regarding international students’ right to work in the UK after completing their studies changed in March 2012.
Tier 1 (Post Study Work) has been abolished and recent graduates and postgraduate will be able to apply for permission to work under the Tier 2 (General) scheme. Applicants must meet points requirements, have a job offer from an employer that is a licensed sponsor and must be paid a minimum salary of £20,300.
Employers are also required to meet a number of conditions before they can sponsor international graduates: for this reason, many employers state that they are only able to accept applicants who are entitled to work in the UK without any restrictions.
For full details of schemes and eligibility, see the UK Border Agency website
Students from EU and EEA countries are normally able to work in the UK without any restrictions. However, although EU citizens, Bulgarian and Romanian nationals still have restrictions on their ability to work in the UK – see www.ukba.homeoffice.gov.uk/eucitizens/bulgaria-romania
The issue of eligibility to work in the UK is complex and you are advised to seek advice from an authoritative source such as one of those listed below:
- Kent Union Student Advice Centre is the official source of advice for Kent University students on visa extension applications and immigration matters www.kentunion.co.uk/advice/international
- Duncan Lewis & Co. www.duncanlewis.co.uk/immigration.htm solicitors firm with expertise in immigration law
- Mishcon de Reya www.mishcon.com/services/mishcon_private/immigration London law firm offering immigration advice and services.
- Smith Stone Walters www.smithstonewalters.com Law firm based in Bromley, Kent, specialising in all aspects of United Kingdom immigration and nationality law and UK work permits
- Laura Devine Solicitors www.lauradevine.com niche immigration firm in London which gave a presentation at the Association of Graduate Careers Advisory Services conference in September 2011
- CIASA www.ciasa.co.uk website set up to help provide students with advice on immigration law
Many major companies begin their graduate recruitment at the start of the academic year, and may have application deadlines before the end of the Autumn term. This means that you need to start making applications at the beginning of your final year: if you wait until after you have finished your studies, you may be too late!
Your degree subject is not always important to employers. Many graduate recruiters are happy to recruit graduates in any subject, and will provide the necessary training that you will need to do the job.
The following websites have databases of companies who recruit graduates and give details of their recruitment procedures. You can search the databases for employers or training programmes that may interest you.
These publishers also produce print directories, which are available free of charge from the Careers and Employability Service while stocks last.
- The Times Top 100 Graduate Employers www.top100graduateemployers.com/top100.html
For a list of other online directories, see www.kent.ac.uk/careers/graddirectories.htm
The Careers and Employability Service also has its own online vacancy database http://kent.prospects.ac.uk , which can be searched for jobs in particular career areas or geographical locations.
A list of organisations who are licensed to sponsor migrants under Tier 2 and who may therefore be prepared to consider international student applications can be found at
Applications for jobs are normally made either on a company application form (online or printed) or with a curriculum vitae (CV)
Most large companies will require students to apply by means of an online application form. You can find examples of the type of questions included on these forms, and advice on how to answer them, in our “Making Applications” booklet, available in the Careers and Employability Service, or on our website at www.kent.ac.uk/careers/applicn.htm#APPLICATION
These forms may present the following difficulties for international students:
- They may ask how many “UCAS points” you have. UCAS points are used to calculate the overall level of achievement which UK students have reached in their school or other pre-university exams. There is no official system to calculate an exact equivalent for qualifications awarded in other countries but NARIC www.naric.org.uk can provide a “statement of comparison” for overseas qualifications. You can find rough international academic equivalencies for many countries at www.brighton.ac.uk/international/equivalencies
- Most large multinational recruiters are used to dealing with applications from international students from throughout the world and will be able to assess for themselves whether you have achieved the standard which they expect - you do not need to give them an exact equivalent of your UCAS points;
- The space allowed for your qualifications may be inadequate – students in England usually take only three or four subjects at A-level. If you need more space, the form may provide an “Additional Information” section which you can use, or you may just have to summarise your qualifications;
- They may state that they are unable to accept applicants who are not free to work in the UK without restriction.
If you need help or advice on any of these issues, talk to a careers adviser or to graduate recruitment staff at the company to which you wish to apply.
Curriculum Vitaes (also called resumés) are used in most countries, but the format and content varies from country to country.
When writing a CV for British employers you should:
- Restrict the length to not more than two sides of A4 paper. If you can include all the relevant information on one side, this is fine, but your CV does not have to be just one side long
- Send a covering letter (not more than one side of A4) with the CV
- Include the names and contact details of two referees. One of these should be a member of the academic staff here at Kent . You should not send written testimonials from previous employers or educational institutions with your application – employers will contact your referees directly
- It is not normal to include a photograph on your CV, although you may do so if you wish
For more advice on CVs and applications, see www.kent.ac.uk/careers/applicn.htm
If you intend to continue your studies at postgraduate level, then it is important that you:
- Start early. You should ideally begin your initial planning during your second year. There are few deadlines for postgraduate study applications in the UK but applications made during the Autumn term, or early in the Spring term, are more likely to succeed.
- Look at your academic achievement to date and assess whether you have the ability and commitment to carry on at postgraduate level. In particular, the three or more years of research required to complete a PhD requires not only high academic achievement but also a great interest in your subject and much determination;
- Think beyond postgraduate study: how will a higher degree fit into your longer-term career plans?
- Talk to your tutor or another member of academic staff. They can advise you on your chances of success in getting into postgraduate study and on the best universities in your area of interest. They may even know of grants or research posts likely to be available;
- For more information on postgraduate study in the UK, see www.prospects.ac.uk/postgraduate_study_in_the_uk.htm
- Our Postgraduate Study web pages
www.kent.ac.uk/ces/postgrad-study.html will give you further information, both on study in the UK and abroad.
Fees and Funding For International Postgraduate Students
Think about how much postgraduate study will cost you. Fees for postgraduate degrees are generally about the same as those for undergraduate degrees although some courses, (e.g. MBAs) may be much more expensive. It is almost always easier to obtain a place for postgraduate study than to get funding for it.
There are, though, various scholarship schemes for international students. The University's website www.kent.ac.uk/scholarships/postgraduate/international/index.html lists a number of these. Most are only for research degrees and not available to students on taught Masters courses.
For more general information on funding, see www.kent.ac.uk/careers/postgradmenu.htm#Funding
Many international students look forward to returning home at the end of their studies: others do so more reluctantly and even with a little trepidation. Even if you have regularly returned home during the vacations, your situation has now changed. You are no longer a student returning for the holidays - you are a graduate ready for the next stage of your career and your friends and family will have certain expectations of you. Not the least of these is that you will be ready and able to get a "good job".
Careful planning in advance can help you to cope with this transition; to clarify your own aims and ambitions (and to relate them to the expectations of others) and to prepare for your next step. This is equally true whichever of the three options outlined you hope to follow.
This advance planning should include:
- Assessing your skills, interests and values and relating these to careers.
Prospects Planner www.prospects.ac.uk/links/Pplanner will to help you choose a graduate career.
- Researching the job market. Make sure that you keep in touch with the job market in your home country via newspapers, the Internet and your embassy or consulate. Which employers offer the careers that you want? What degree subjects, and personal skills, do they require? At what time of year should you apply?
Starting your Career in: country guides for international students
This series offers practical advice to international students who have chosen to return to their home country to look for work. Each country guide includes key facts about current trends and jobs, advice about seeking employment, hints and tips for making a successful application, and helpful information sources.
There are profiles for Australia, Brazil, Canada, China, Hong Kong, India, Japan, Malaysia, Nigeria, Russia, Singapore, Taiwan, Thailand, United Arab Emirates and the USA
For links to these profiles, see www.kent.ac.uk/careers/sitesint.htm
You may wish to work in a country other than your home country outside the UK, or to continue with postgraduate study at another overseas university. The USA, for example, is always a popular destination for postgraduate students, but you should apply early - start to plan at least eighteen months before you graduate. If you wish to work in another country, check whether you will need a work permit. If you do, you will face the same difficulties as with working in the U.K. - plus the problem of finding out about employment opportunities at a distance.
Some questions you may need to ask yourself
- What is the job market like in that country?
- Will my present degree course give me an acceptable qualification?
- Will I need to train and/or gain experience in my home country first? (Even if this is not essential, it may help you to be more marketable and mobile in the long term)
- Will my language skills be adequate?
- Will I require a work permit and, if so, how easy will it be to obtain?
The i-graduate survey (see below) found that 10% of the class of 2010 who were in employment were working outside the UK and not in their home country. This most-mobile group achieve the highest average starting salary of £33,626.
- Our Work and Study Abroad pages www.kent.ac.uk/careers/sitesint.htm list job sources for many countries.
- Our vacancy database and other vacancy sites (see “Finding out about graduate recruiters”, above) include some jobs outside the UK and can be searched by location.
- Prospects.ac.uk www.prospects.ac.uk/working_abroad.htm includes information on working abroad, with specific details of almost 50 countries.
In November 2009 the International Graduate Insight Group (i-graduate) was commissioned to run a study of International Graduate Outcomes. The first wave of the study took place in 2010 and the second wave in 2011. 7,620 graduates responded to the 2011 survey from 63 participating institutions and there were 5,708 responses from the first wave.
The study found that 86% of 2010 international graduates were in employment or further study six months after graduation. In their third year after graduation, 95% of the class of 2008 were employed or studying. These figures are comparable to the first wave of this research (in 2010) which found that 78% of new graduates were working or studying, rising to 95% in the third year after graduation.
UK-educated international graduates achieve markedly higher average salaries than in their home country. The average starting salary for recently graduated international alumni returning to their home country to work was £18,406. For graduates in their third year out, this figure was higher, at £20,574.
Recent graduates returning to China to work, achieve an average starting salary of £9,675. Those returning to India, achieve an average starting salary of £13,214. US graduates return home to an average starting salary of £28,055. These compare to average starting salaries in China, India, and the USA of £4,152, £4,394, and £24,514 respectively.
The average starting salary for recent international (non-EU) graduates working in the UK is £23,960. The average for 2008 graduates in their third year post graduation is £30,029 due to career progression.
Average salaries for 2010 non-EU graduates with a bachelor’s degree are £18,278, for taught postgrads £20,443 and for PGR graduates £31,660.
18% of recent graduates are engaged in further study solely, and 14% are engaged in further study and employment concurrently. Of the 18% who are in further study only, 64% are in the UK and 27% have returned home. For those in their 3rd year post-graduation, 7% are engaged in further study solely, and 21% in further study with employment.
- Start early - many deadlines for jobs are in the Autumn term;
- If you aren't sure what you want to do, use our career choice resources to investigate possible careers and decide on suitable options;
- Research employers and job markets using the resources given on these pages;
- Build up a list of possible employers;
- If you wish to work in the UK, make sure your applications are top-quality - remember that it is more difficult for non-EU citizens to work in the UK and competition is therefore intense;
- Prepare a good CV, ensuring you use the format preferred in the country you are applying to.
- Start early - many deadlines for postgraduate admissions and funding are six to twelve months in advance;
- Decide where and what you wish to study and how it relates to your future career plans;
- Use the resources above to find out about universities and courses;
- Check closing dates and apply in good time;
- Check out any funding possibilities and closing dates for these.
Unfortunately, it has not been possible to cover every aspect of such a vast area as career planning for international students. Inevitably generalisations have had to be made and information that we would like to have included has had to be omitted. Although areas such as work permits and funding for postgraduate study are covered, these are complex and rapidly changing fields, so please check the latest information available in the Careers and Employability Service or from the contacts given and use this only as an introduction. However, this should serve as a useful starting point in your career planning. If you have queries that haven't been answered in these pages or the other resources referred to within, do get in touch and we will do our best to help you www.kent.ac.uk/ces/advice.html
Please note that nothing on these pages constitutes legal advice. Although every attempt has been made to ensure the accuracy of the information on this site the Careers and Employability Service cannot be held responsible for the accuracy of the contents or for any errors or omissions. Regulations governing international students and employment are complex and sometimes rapidly changing and you are advised to seek advice from authoritative sources.
The Careers and Employability Service is committed to equality of opportunity in keeping with the University of Kent at Canterbury Student Charter and the NUS/AGR/AGCAS Code of Practice. Click here to see the University of Kent Careers and Employability Service Equality and Diversity Statement
Last fully updated in 2012