Exit Menu

International students

Flags bal no creases - Copy

This section gives information to help you improve your chances of finding a job in the UK and around the world. You will find it helpful to use the links below together with the rest of the Professional Development Centre (PDC) website.

TARGETJobs International Students (in partnership with AGCAS) gives information on:

  • Tips for seeking work outside the UK
  • Getting work experience
  • Guide to job hunting in the UK
  • Visas and permits for international students who wish to work in the UK

Need more help?

The PDC is here to assist you with your job search and your employability while you are a Brunel student and for up to two years after you have graduated.

Visa regulations

We always recommend that you seek immigration advice specific to you if these pages or links do not answer your queries directly. You can find a list of accredited immigration advisers at Office of the Immigration Services Commissioner. The University’s Immigration Team (based in the Student Centre, Ground Floor, Bannerman Centre) provide useful information. You can also contact the UKCISA Student Advice Line for help.

Working during study

Rights to work and clarification on term time

Students studying with a Tier 4 visa are restricted by law to the numbers of hours they can work (paid or unpaid) in the UK during term time. Additionally, all students working for Brunel University London are restricted to working 15 hours a week during term time.

Visit the Job Shop pages - the Term-time working and Work-Study balance tab - to find the University’s policy on ‘Rights to work for students and clarification on term time

These links should cover all the questions you may have if you would like to work during your course. Please check the pages regularly as immigration schemes and conditions are frequently changed or updated:

Working after study

These links should cover all the questions you may have about applying for visas after you have completed your studies. Please check the pages regularly as immigration schemes and conditions are frequently changed or updated: 

Tier 2

In order to work for an employer in the UK graduates have the option of applying for work after their studies. However you will need to do this through Tier 2, and you will need an offer of a job at graduate level from a recognised sponsor listed on the Register of Sponsors:

  • You can find the Tier 2 Register of sponsors - employers on the UKVI website
  • There is a minimum salary required but it will need to be higher for some jobs. Remember to check that the job you are being offered is at the right level
  • The Tier 2 shortage occupation list on the UKVI website lists all of the UK-wide shortage occupations for Tier 2 of the points-based system, and also gives the minimum salary requirements
  • Look at the Codes of practice for skilled work (Tier 2) on the UKVI website which gives the skill level and appropriate salary rate for jobs (including PhD level) covered by the Standard Occupational Classification (SOC) codes
  • Employers who are registered as sponsors can need to issue you with a certificate of sponsorship (COS) once your degree has been awarded
  • Once an employer has issued you with a COS you can then apply for a Tier 2 visa which will be valid for three years, and you will be able to renew it for a further two years 

Prospective applicants for points-based immigration routes should assess their circumstances against the criteria given in the relevant policy guidance at GOV.UK Visas and Immigration. UK NARIC provides advice and guidance on international qualifications.

Tier 5 Government Authorised Exchange (GAE)

You could investigate the Tier 5 (GAE) visa if you would like to take up an internship or temporary work experience opportunity in the UK to gain valuable skills before you return home.

How it works

An employer does not sponsor you directly - you will be sponsored by an 'overarching body' or organisation, and they will issue you with a Certificate of Sponsorship

  • There are several different overarching bodies and schemes available so you should explore these to find out which one is most suitable for you. View the list of Approved Tier 5 GAE schemes
  • There is usually a charge for sponsorship and this cost would have to be paid by you or the employer
  • If you are applying from the UK you will already need to have been awarded your degree
  • You can apply from the UK to switch from a Tier 4 student visa to a Tier 5 (GAE) visa if the job is directly related to your degree and the job fulfils all the requirements of the scheme
  • The visa is issued for a maximum of 12 months, and it cannot be extended
  • You cannot do an unpaid placement, and you must be paid at the national minimum wage (NMW) or above
  • The job must be a temporary supernumerary (not a vacant job) skilled role
Tier 1 (Graduate Entrepreneur)
Tier 4 Doctorate Extension Scheme

The 12-month Tier 4 Doctorate Extension Scheme visa [Internal link to Student Centre page] for PhD students was introduced to assist international PhD students already in the UK studying on a Tier 4 general student visa to be allowed to stay in the UK to look for employment.

UK CVs

CVs vary around the world – in format, content, and name. It’s important to use the correct format and content for each country rather than the one you would use to apply for jobs in your home country.

We can help you to develop your CV or cover letter to maximise the success of your job applications. Initially it’s sensible to write a general CV that can be re-worked each time you apply for a particular job to highlight relevant skills.

Where to look for CV examples

You can find information on writing a CV in the Applications section which includes example CVs for a range of disciplines and types of work.

International student?
  • The International CV example gives an idea of what you should include in your CV and a possible layout.
Part-time work/Work experience/Graduate jobs?
  • Take a look at the CV examples – some of which relate to specific disciplines
Placement as part of an undergraduate course?
  • CV examples and other application information are located on the Blackboard Learn work placement site for your course. You should contact your Placement Internship Adviser for help.
Placement as part of a Master’s course?
  • Please contact your Placement Internship Adviser for help.
Get your CV reviewed

PDC Careers Consultants offer a daily Quick Query session where you can get feedback on the content and layout of your CV or cover letter for part-time, voluntary, work experience and graduate opportunities.

We are unable to check spelling and grammar. However you can contact the Brunel Language Centre for help with job applications through 30-minute One-to-One consultations.

Improve your chances of UK employment

You will face two main challenges if you wish to remain in the UK – getting permission to remain in the country and finding a job. A degree does not guarantee that you will find a job, and you will be competing against students/graduates who have English as their first language and are familiar with UK culture. You could try:

Suggesting that recruiters look at the 'Recruiting International Graduates - A Guide for Employers' produced by the Association of Graduate Recruiters (AGCAS) Internationalisation Task Group (April 2016).  

These tips should help:

Why employers do not employ international students

How you can improve

 

Read the information and advice given in other sections of this website

Attend PDC workshops and webinars on relevant topics

Talk to a Careers Consultant or Placement Internship Adviser

Investigate current visa schemes

Poor English language and written skills

Talk to UK students/housemates
Watch English news/films/TV
Attend Brunel Language Centre in-sessional courses
Take an English course outside University
Participate during seminars
Study language feedback for essays/projects and try to learn from mistakes

Don't fit in easily

Talk to UK people including classmates at every opportunity
Contribute during seminars
Put out your cultural feelers and observe and learn from others' behaviour

Don't understand English work practices

Look at Executive Planet for tips on how to behave in the workplace

Poor / inappropriate / unimpressive CVs for the UK market

Poorly completed application forms

Read the Applications section on this website
Use action words, eg defined, co-ordinated

Think about skills and evidence
Check language and spelling
Contact the PDC for a CV review, and to find out what employers expect of you

Poor interview skills

Look at the Interview skills pages on this website
Watch the Making an impact DVD
Arrange a mock interview with the PDC

Talk to friends about your experiences

Cannot articulate or match skills to the job

Undertake voluntary / community work, e.g. through Brunel Volunteers or look at the Do-It website
Learn how to analyse skills and provide evidence
Look at the Academic Skills (ASK) website

Qualifications don't match to the UK requirements

State UK equivalence clearly on CV or application form
See the Equivalence of qualifications information and the UK NARIC website

Poor networking skills

Ask PDC staff/Tutor for help
Talk to everyone you meet, and make connections
Use LinkedIn and other social networking sites

Tips from students and graduates

iworkglobal - containing profiles of international students working in the UK or students working abroad - and iwork@ have been developed by Brunel’s Professional Development Centre (PDC) to help you get a real picture of what it’s like to work somewhere. Whether it’s a summer job, internship, placement or graduate job, you can read stories written by real Brunel students doing real jobs. You can browse around the stories, explore what jobs students from your subject have done or look at specific kinds of jobs.

In addition, the site features an ihire@ section with valuable tips and recruitment advice from a range of employers.

UK work etiquette 

Greetings

It is polite to give a simple firm handshake as the standard greeting (for both men and women) on business occasions. The response to a first introduction is normally 'nice to meet you' or 'pleased to meet you'. Generally colleagues call each other by their first names. Once you have been formally introduced managers will most likely expect you to address them by their first names. Exceptions are very senior managers. You should always wait to be invited to use first names. Until you have established a good working relationship or have learned enough about the company culture, it is probably best to stay formal on first contact with any business contacts.

Body language

Privacy and ‘personal space' are important in the UK and people normally keep a certain distance away from each other when they are talking. It is also considered inappropriate to touch others in public when in conversation unless you are really familiar with them.

Conversation

Mostly people do not talk loudly in public and try not to disrupt others, eg in open plan offices, on the train, bus etc. Also asking personal questions or intensely staring at another person is not considered appropriate, e.g. individuals usually do not discuss their salaries at work.

When you are at work you may find that direct questions will receive indirect responses, and conversations may be ambiguous and quite subtle. So, it is important to pay attention to tone of voice and facial expression, as this could be a way of telling what people really mean. For example when you are asked to do something it might not be obvious that it is a request because it is said in such an indirect and polite manner. Sometimes understated language is used, often in form of ‘qualifiers’ which is a word or phrase that precedes the adjective, such as 'perhaps', ‘possibly’ or 'it could be'.

The UK is made up of four identities, England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland; each region has proud and unique heritage. You should therefore be careful if referring to British business associates as ‘English’, as this may cause offense. 

Management styles

In recent yearsBritish management styles have become more varied. Managers strive for consensus, but they are ultimately the decision makers. Teamwork is deemed important and negotiations with multiple stakeholders within organisations are encouraged.  Managers can be indirect and direct in their actions. Managers often give instructions to subordinate workers in an indirect way, preferring to request assistance rather than to be explicit.

Equality

Under the 2010 Equality Act it  is a legal requirement in the UK that men and women are treated equally in the workplace and in wider society. A key body for equal opportunities in the UK is the Equality and Human Rights Commission. This is a governmental group that promotes equality, human rights, provides advice and guidance, works to implement an effective legislative framework and raises awareness of an individual’s rights.

Politeness

On the whole, people in the UK are renowned for their courtesy. This is a basic element of UK culture and is part of the communication style. You will have noticed that people say sorry often, e.g. when they pass too close to you or when they accidentally bump in to you. It is polite in the UK to hold open doors for others that are nearby, particularly those from the opposite sex, e.g. a man opens a door for a woman and he would allow her to pass through first.

Humour

Often quite dry and somewhat sarcastic, humour is very important in general communication and is present at every level and almost every occasion at work and socially. Mostly British humour is witty and self-deprecating, and can often be a defence mechanism. It can be highly implicit and in this sense is related to the British indirect communication style. Much use is made of irony so do listen carefully for cues and do not take all comments literally.

'Stiff upper lip'

This term is often used to describe how reserved, restrained and stoic people can be when faced with difficult situations. In British culture open displays of emotion, positive or negative, are not always looked on as appropriate. During meetings, this means that your colleagues may approach difficult business negotiations with an air of detachment.

Meetings

Business meetings in the UK are often structured but not too formal and begin and end with social conversation. Punctuality is essential. Meetings are a very important management instrument and are usually scheduled well in advance. All important decisions will be brought up, discussed, negotiated and approved during meetings. Generally the most senior member of staff will make the ultimate decision following a group consensus. The established rules and practices are followed and, as a result, decision making may appear slow. In negotiations a 'win win' approach is favoured. Minutes are generally taken during meetings and circulated afterward for reference.

Dress code

This will vary from job to job and some workplaces insist on informality while others are formal but may have a dress-down day. Those in the creative fields, new companies and start-ups tend to opt for ‘smart casual’ attire. Whereas traditional companies in the finance sector for example run a conservative dress code. The term “Business Casual” has become increasingly popular in recent years and is a middle ground between the two styles of dress. It entails wearing smart attire that is smarter than casual wear but more informal than typical smart business wear.  If you are ever unsure what you should wear, it is best to dress conservatively.

Work Ethic

Generally speaking, British work culture involves taking a proactive approach, welcoming change and not being afraid of making mistakes; people are prepared to ‘give something a go’ and move on if the desired outcome is not achieved. This is in contrast to some European work styles that tend to favour inaction over than making mistakes. Similarly, other cultures prefer to ‘save face’ rather than being seen to make mistakes.

Written Communication

In the UK, written communication follows certain rules of protocol. Initially, correspondence should remain formal unless the writer knows the recipient. Letters should open using the persons title and their surname and close with either ‘yours sincerely’ or ‘yours faithfully’.  Communication over email is also initially formal and remains so until both parties become familiar with each other. The British will not use slang or abbreviations of the English language in an email. 

Other useful links

You may also like

  • Morrison T (2nd revised edition, 2006), Kiss Bow or Shake Hands The Bestselling Guide to Doing Business in More Than 60 Countries, Adams Media Corporation
  • Axtel RE, Briggs T, Corcoran M, Lamb MB (1997), Do’s and Taboos Around the World for Women in Business, John Wiley & Sons, Inc
  • Cushner K, Brislin RW (2nd edition, 1995), Intercultural Interactions: A Practical Guide, Sage Publications
  • Dresser N (Revised edition, 2005), Multicultural Manners: Essential Rules of Etiquette for the 21st Century, John Wiley & Sons, Inc

Equivalence of qualifications

Employers normally like to see what your qualification is equivalent to in the UK. This information should help you to work it out.

Please note that the information below reflects approximate equivalents for certain categories and is intended as a preliminary guide only. It is the responsibility of each individual to check and verify their own individual circumstances. 

For more detailed information please see the NARIC website.

 

The National Recognition Information Centre for the United Kingdom (UK NARIC) is the National Agency providing the only official information and advice on the comparability of international qualifications from over 180 countries worldwide.

Grade comparison of overseas qualifications

Department for Education and National College for Teaching and Leadership (May 2015) - An evaluation of all international awards that are considered comparable to British Bachelor (honours) degree standard.

International Baccalaureate (IB) Diploma

The following are the approximate Advanced Level (A-level) equivalents:

IB points

Three A-levels

38

AAA (360)

36

AAB (340)

34

AAB (320)

32

BBB (300)

30

BBC (280)

28

BCC (260)

26

CCC (240)

Employer websites

Some organisations now provide UCAS points calculators on their websites. Although adapted to each recruiter's requirements it can provide a good indication for other applications:

  • KPMG - European and Non-European qualifications
  • Deloitte – International academic requirements

 

Returning home or working internationally

Try to give some thought to your future several months before you finish your course as it will take time to research and find suitable employment. You will have built up marketable skills during your time in the UK – cross-cultural understanding, adaptability, improved English language – all of which will be welcomed by an international recruiter.

  • Research international companies with offices in your home country
  • Stay connected with your social networking contacts back home while studying
  • Research employment trends, targeting jobs that are relevant to your skills, work experience and degree
  • Keep in touch with your academic tutors and other contacts – you’re likely to need to ask for references
  • Attend British Council alumni events in your country

Networking

  • Use LinkedIn for networking and to find information about companies and jobs: it can be very effective especially for generating international contacts. Visit LinkedIn for Students for information to help you set up your profile
  • Use other online social networking sites, eg Facebook and country specific sites
  • Keep in touch with the University through their LinkedIn and other social media sites, and the Alumni Office

Do your research

  • PDC Country profiles
  • Embassy World Links to international embassies
  • globalEDGE Web-portal with information and learning resources on global business activities
  • UK Foreign and Commonwealth Office Responsible for promoting British interests overseas and supporting our citizens and businesses around the globe, the website includes travel advice by country
  • United World Economic reports on various countries, regions and sectors worldwide
  • WCN World Chambers Network Global chambers of commerce
  • World Folio publish world supplements and economic reports showing recent global trends 

Trade directories

  • Brunel Library gives access to databases such as BankScope, FAME, and Bloomberg
  • CorporateInformation Global corporate information on companies in over 55 countries. The Research Links on the Tools menu gives other web resources [Subscription required]
  • FT Global 500 (2015) Annual survey of top-performing companies around the world, including specific sections for different regions (Europe, USA, Japan, Asia-Pacific) and within these companies listed by sector
  • International White and Yellow pages Links to national and global directories 

Tips from Brunel students and graduates

Find out what has made them successful in finding a job either in the UK or in their home country.

iworkglobal - containing profiles of international students working in the UK or students working abroad - and iworkat have been developed by Brunel’s Professional Development Centre (PDC) to help you get a real picture of what it’s like to work somewhere. Whether it’s a summer job, internship, placement or graduate job, you can read stories written by real Brunel students doing real jobs. You can browse around the stories, explore what jobs students from your subject have done or look at specific kinds of jobs.

In addition, the site features an ihire@ section with valuable tips and recruitment advice from a range of employers.