One in 10 university students are already running their own business – alongside their studies. Researchers found 162,000 undergraduates have a side hustle on the go, up from 108,000 in 2018 – a 50 per cent increase. And on average, each venture turns over £411.67 a month – around £5,000 a year or almost £15,000 in total over the course of a three-year degree.
The study of 1,000 undergraduates commissioned by Santander found another 18 per cent of students have plans to begin their own business venture in the near future.
This means 27 per cent of current undergraduates either have a business up and running or intend to start one in the coming years.
But just 16 per cent of those who have set up their own business were motivated due to a lack of money, with a third influenced by their family and one in five by their friends. A third simply built up a hobby or personal interest while 10 per cent wanted to be their own boss.
It comes after the study also found more than four in 10 university students are rethinking their careers in the wake of the pandemic, as 78 per cent fear Covid-19 will impact their job opportunities once they graduate.
As a result, of those considering an entire career shift, six in 10 are now looking to work in a role which has a clear sense of purpose and makes a difference. While 55 per cent admit they have a ‘plan B’ in case their top career choice doesn’t work out.
Matt Hutnell, director, Santander Universities said: “It’s fantastic to see that so many university students are starting or looking to start their own business during their university years. “From app-creation to pivoting businesses to support communities in response to the coronavirus outbreak, we are constantly impressed with the ambition and talent demonstrated by young entrepreneurs as they continue to play a vital role in the future of the UK economy.
“Starting off in the world of work can be a daunting experience for graduates, but even more so in the current environment, so it’s great to see students are looking at ways to best make it work for them.”
The study also found that of those who have already entered the world of business, almost a fifth (17 per cent) hope to continue it as a full-time career, with just six per cent expecting that the business will cease trading.
And half (48 per cent) said they plan to carry it on as a second job or hobby when they leave university.
It also emerged that arts and crafts was the most popular business sector, as many expanded on a hobby they already had, followed by technology-based solutions and administration or business services.
However, while there is enthusiasm for embarking on a career in business, almost two thirds (64 per cent) didn’t think there was enough support for undergraduates looking to set up shop.
More than a third turned to their parents for help and almost one in five went to a careers advisor, with one in 20 going to the bank.
And of those looking to start a business in the future, 28 per cent would seek advice from their university or college and 22 per cent would get support from a bank or financial advisor.
But the research, carried out via OnePoll, revealed the biggest barrier to undergraduates starting a business was a lack of funds to set it up, with 76 per cent citing this as a reason.
Almost half (45 per cent) said they would be concerned that starting a company would mean not having a regular income, while 40 per cent said a business venture was too big a risk and they were afraid of the consequences of it failing.
Researchers also found that despite the massive fall in quarterly GDP and ominous forecast about the economy, 15 per cent of undergraduates think there will either be no impact on job opportunities or there will be an increase in roles, post pandemic.
And as a result, while they agree it might be a riskier prospect than usual, 33 per cent still dream of starting their own business one day, while another 11 per cent want to, believing it to be no more of a risk than before the pandemic started.
A quarter (24 per cent) also claimed they don’t worry about the impact it will have on their life, while almost one in 10 (8 per cent) are still optimistic about the future.
Santander commissioned the research as part of its Santander Universities Emerging Entrepreneurs 2020 initiative.
The new virtual programme of panel discussions and workshops, coaching and peer-to-peer learning, which runs until the end of September, has been designed to provide support, expertise, and resources to budding university entrepreneurs who are looking to grow or scale their business.
The programme also focuses on responding to key challenges and goals for start-ups during the current coronavirus crisis.
Now in its tenth year, the two winning businesses from the programme will get £30,000 of equity-free seed funding and a fully funded eight-week internship at the live virtual final of the pitching competition on 29 September.
Matt Hutnell, director, Santander Universities, added: “Santander is committed to fostering entrepreneurship in the UK and we’re excited about this year’s crop of budding business stars taking part in the Emerging Entrepreneurs programme.”
Since the competition launched a decade ago, Santander has awarded more than £500,000 in support for budding student entrepreneurs and given universities the chance to showcase entrepreneurial talent from across the UK.