The entrepreneurial spirit is alive and well in the UK as one in four students runs a business or plans to start one in the near future
Posted on December 28, 2014
The entrepreneurial spirit is alive and well in Britain’s universities, with almost a quarter of university students running their own business or planning to do so, according to new research.
The study by research firm Youth Sight of 2,000 full-time undergraduate students estimated the collective turnover of student businesses is more than £44million a year.
Some 24 per cent of those surveyed were running their own business or planning to start one while studying. The most popular ventures were in technology-based solutions or arts and crafts, followed by clothing and textiles, catering and tutoring.
Selling online was the most popular channel, with almost half selling their services via their own website, 13 per cent via other websites, such as eBay and Gumtree, and 11 per cent through social media sites.
The research was commissioned by Santander Universities UK, which was set up in 2007 as part of the bank’s corporate social responsibility programme to encourage its collaboration with universities and research centres.
The research also found that the majority of students planning to run a business or running one said their motivation was to pursue a hobby or personal interest.
Some 38 per cent said they were motivated by financial gain, and one in ten said it was to gain work experience.
The study found that 27 per cent expect to pursue their business as a career after graduating, 53 per cent would like to continue it as a second job or hobby, and 8 per cent would continue under the guidance of someone else. Just six per cent said they would close it down.
Bio-bean was started by students from University College London. Arthur Kay, co-founder and chief executive of the business, which turns coffee grounds into bio-fuels, said: ‘We wanted to develop a business that had a positive impact on the environment.’ Kay had the idea for his business while studying architecture in 2012 and recently won the postgraduate category in Santander Universities UK’s fourth annual Entrepreneurship Awards.
He was also named one of 2014’s ‘London Leaders’, a scheme backed by mayor Boris Johnson to promote green entrepreneurship.
Simon Bray, director of Santander Universities UK, said: ‘Students are gaining significant sums of money and invaluable experience as a result of their entrepreneurial ventures.
‘The prevalence of these businesses demonstrates a great deal of skill and initiative from students across the UK, who are already under pressure to meet the demands of their studies.’
Meanwhile the Government’s flagship £310 million Start Up Loans finance scheme has so far distributed more than 20,000 loans across the UK. The Government-funded initiative was the brainchild of Lord Young, the Prime Minister’s Enterprise Adviser.
The Start Up Loans Company said that 54 per cent of the loans have gone to 18 to 30-year-olds. James Caan, chairman of the Start Up Loans Company, said: ‘Risk and failure are both key components of the business journey and neither should be shied away from. That’s why mentoring is such an important component of the scheme, providing the next generation of entrepreneurs with advice.’
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