The UK is home to more than 52,000 undergraduate businesses, according to research out today from Direct Line for Business. 

The survey of 1006 students across UK universities, carried out by YouthSight, also found that 15 percent of students plan to launch their own startup after graduating from university. 

Cambridge has produced some of the UK's most innovative startups and its example is spreading. Image: iStock/frankix
Cambridge has produced some of the UK's most innovative startups and its example is spreading. Image: iStock/frankix

Of those graduates planning to start their own business, 45 percent said they were driven by the desire to be their own boss while 27 percent believe they will earn more money by starting their own enterprise than they could by working for someone else. 

Male undergraduates are more likely to start a business than females, with 20 percent of male respondents saying they plan to start their own enterprise post-university compared to 11 percent of females. 

Jane Guaschi, business manager, at Direct Line for Business said: “This research goes to show that we are truly a nation of entrepreneurs. It’s 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.”      

Those studying creative, arts & design courses at university were found to be entrepreneurial with 26 percent of those studying these courses planning to start their own company upon graduation. 

Meanwhile, those studying STEM subjects (science, technology, engineering and maths) were the least likely. 

Eileen Burbidge, a partner at venture capital firm Passion Capital and one of Skype's earliest employees, said this could be because STEM graduates don't need to worry as much as other graduates.

"They have fantastic prospects and are in greatest demand across all industries," she said. "Additionally, I wouldn't be surprised if most STEM graduates by nature are more methodical in their approach and therefore thoughtful about evaluating all options (job offers, career opportunities or starting their own company) before making a decision/statement in advance." 

Melissa Di Donato, Salesforce area VP EMEA and APAC, added: "We are currently seeing a concerted effort by businesses, schools and government to drive participation and enthusiasm in STEM subjects. I can’t wait to see what happens in the next 5-10 years – to see those students who are benefitting from the new computer science curriculum and other initiatives."