Tens of thousands of undergraduates running their own businesses

UK students currently run more than 52,000 companies, research finds.

The industries range from events promotion to software development and clothing design, according to a study by insurer Direct Line for Business.

Of those students not currently running a company, 15 per cent of students plan to start one after graduating.

Mark Zuckerberg, Larry Page and Sergey Brin are the main entrepreneurs with the biggest influence on undergraduates’ dreams of building huge enterprises.

Of those graduates planning to start their own business, 45 per cent state they are driven by the desire to be their own boss. More than a quarter (27 per cent) believe they will earn more money by starting their own enterprise than they could by working for someone else.

A worry over suitable job opportunities has motivated a further 19 per cent to contemplate starting their own company.

Male undergraduates display a greater entrepreneurial spirit than their female counterparts. One in five (20 per cent) male students plan to start their own enterprise post-university, compared to 11 per cent of female undergraduates. 

Those studying creative, arts and design courses at university are more likely than any other student to start their own business.

More than a quarter (26 per cent) of those studying these courses plan to start their own company upon graduation.

Those studying STEM subjects such as engineering, science and maths are the least likely (12 per cent) of all the university disciplines surveyed to consider starting their own enterprise upon graduation.

Jane Guaschi, business manager, at Direct Line for Business says, ‘It is encouraging to know that companies such as Google, Facebook, WordPress, Asceno, and even Time Magazine, which were all founded by students at university, are inspiring the Millennial Generation to strike out on their own.

‘The latest generation of graduates is clearly fiercely independent and wanting to control the destiny of their own careers, rather than answering to anyone else.’

Further reading on entrepreneurs and education

Ben Lobel

Delphine Hintz

Ben Lobel was the editor of SmallBusiness.co.uk from 2010 to 2018. He specialises in writing for start-up and scale-up companies in the areas of finance, marketing and HR.

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