Over a quarter of students start a business while at university

  • Emma Finamore
  • Last updated 26 Sep 2018

But only 10% say they will continue after graduation. 


Over a quarter of students have started or plan to start a business venture while they are still at university, according to new research.

The study, from Santander found that 375,700 people had started a business during their studies, 27% of students.

Among those, the average annual turnover is £6,876, a whopping £478 million collectively. However, only 10% of university students plan to start their own business when they graduate or continue with an existing venture, raising questions about the advice and information available to young entrepreneurs.

When asked about their employment plans after university, 80% expected to join a company rather than start their own business (8%) or continue with an existing venture (2%).

The most common reason cited for not continuing with business plans was a perceived lack of experience (40%), followed by a fear of failure (30%) the lack of employee benefits (11%) and the lack of support and information (10%).

As part of the study, university students were asked to rate the support and information offered to them to start a business when they graduate. A third said it was “OK, but could be better”, while over a quarter felt it was poor or very poor.

The research was commissioned to support the launch of Santander’s ‘Big Ideas’ competition, which challenges students to put forward their big ideas to transform the banking industry for a chance to win part of £20,000 plus the opportunity to develop the idea.

Simon Bray, managing director of Santander Universities UK said: “There is support and information available to students but clearly more needs to be done to ensure it reaches those that need it.

“Our Big Ideas competition is calling upon bright, creative student minds to put forward their ideas for transforming the banking sector. There’s a prize fund of £20,000 and the winners will work with the Santander Innovation team to put them into practice.”


Recruiting school leavers? We can help