24% of UK students starting a business while at university

Rise in student entrepreneurs with undergraduate business owners totalling collective revenues of over £44m per year

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Almost a quarter of UK students are starting a business while at university, generating an estimated collective turnover of over £44m per year, according to new research from Santander.

The study, which interviewed a representative sample of 2,000 full-time undergraduates, found that the most popular student ventures were those that were technology-based or in the arts and crafts sector with 22% of those that had started a part-time business operating in these areas.

Other common student businesses were found to be in the clothing and textiles industry (8%), catering sector (8%), and tutoring (6%).

The research also reported that the most popular channel for students to sell their products and services was online with 49% of UK student entrepreneurs doing so through their own website, 13% through an online marketplace such as eBay or Amazon, and 11% via social media.

When asked about their motivations for starting a business, the majority, 43%, said they had been keen to pursue a hobby or personal interest while 38% had started up to make money and 11% had done so to gain work experience.

Of the 24% of UK undergraduates currently running a business, 27% said they plan to pursue their business as a career after they graduate and 53% intend to continue their venture as a second job or hobby after university.

Commenting on the findings, Santander Universities UK director, Simon Bray, said:

“Students are generating significant sums of money and gaining 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.”

The research coincides with news that 2014 Startups 100-listed start-up bio-bean, started by University College London postgraduates, has been awarded £20,000 from Santander in its annual Entrepreneurship Awards.

bio-bean CEO and co-founder, Arthur Kay commented:

“Juggling a business and academic study can be challenging but the experience you gain is invaluable. We wanted to develop a business that was innovative, profitable and had a positive impact on the environment and the support we’ve received along the way has played a big part in helping us to achieve this.”


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