Students mind their business

More than a quarter of UK university students currently run or intend to start a business alongside their studies, according to research.

Commissioned by Santander Universities, the study found the average turnover of a student enterprise is £11,408 per year, collectively generating £1 billion of revenue in 2017 – up from £913 million the year before.

Sixty percent of students said that they had a financial motive for setting up their business, closely followed by 59 percent wanting to run the venture as a hobby and 32 percent using the opportunity to gain work experience.

Almost one in four students said that they started their business as a way to pay off their student loan.

Broadly the student enterprises operating provide technology-based solutions (27 percent), but many sell arts or crafts (17 percent), clothing and textiles (nine percent), administration and business services (nine percent), tutoring (eight percent) and charity, voluntary or social work (seven percent).

Textile artist Jenny Evans, from Cardiff Metropolitan University, said that she “took a leap of faith” founding Jenny Evans Designs whilst at university, but “gained some incredible experience.”

“Being the owner of your own business can be difficult but extremely rewarding at the same time.”

Asked to look ahead, a third of students said that they had the desire to pursue their business as a future career, with over a half wanting to continue their venture as a second job or hobby once they leave university.

Only four percent of respondents said they would want close down their business after their studies.

Ambitiously, 18 percent of student entrepreneurs expect their turnover to more than double over the next five years, whereas the average expected increase is 68 percent over the period.

“Student entrepreneurs play a key role in shaping the UK economy now and will continue to do so in the future,” said Matt Hutnell, director of Santander Universities for the UK.

“It is encouraging to see that so many students are inspired to start a business while at university, from developing software to designing and selling clothing,” Mr Hutnell commented.

“We are continually impressed with the ambition and skills demonstrated by student entrepreneurs who are driven to create their own opportunities and successfully juggle running a business whilst also keeping up with their studies.”

The research was released alongside the launch of the eighth annual Santander Universities Entrepreneurship Awards.

Since the competitionís launch, more than £340,000 has been awarded to startups and small businesses.

This year there is a total of over £90,000 worth of equity-free seed funding available as prizes for both the winner and runner-up for both the best technology and non-tech business ideas, along with mentoring opportunities and funded internships.

Entrants must be students or alumni who have graduated within two years of the date of submission from a Santander UK partner university, with the application deadline ending mid-April.

UEA students can find more information about the awards and the competition timeline on MyCareerCentral.


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George Goldberg