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International students are big business for university startups

27 July 2020

Study Group welcomes new report into international graduate business startups in the UK

Almost 60% of British university startups have founders who came to study in the UK from other countries, according to new research by Creator Fund - a venture capital firm that specialises in backing university spinouts. Almost half of the student startups in the Creator Fund research had a black, Asian or other minority ethnic founder.

According to Creator Fund’s CEO, attending a university overseas offers a positive environment for young international entrepreneurs:

“Our view is that there is no better place to start a business than university because you have access to talent, which is usually hard to get, you have the time to develop ideas and you have access to experts among the teaching staff. Students are also often at a time in their lives where they are having big ideas and are willing to take risks.”

The report follows a suite of measures from the UK government to welcome international students to the UK and to make it easier for them to work or start their own businesses in the UK. The new Graduate Route will be available to anyone completing a UK degree from summer 2021 or after. It will allow students to stay in the UK for up to two years after graduation (or three years after a PhD), with no restriction on the type of work undertaken.

The Government has also confirmed that students who have been unable to complete all of their degree on campus in the UK will still be eligible.

Graham Stuart, Exports Minister at the Department for International Trade and co-chair of the Government’s Education Sector Advisory Group, said:

“We have worked tirelessly to support initiatives that will encourage students to come to the UK and it is fantastic that we are now reaping the rewards of this, as these figures show. In many cases, studying here leads to international students establishing businesses in the UK, creating wealth and jobs for British people.

“Despite the challenges of coronavirus, a significant number of international students will come here next year. Furthermore, our new points-based immigration system will provide significant incentives for entrepreneurs to stay on to establish new enterprises for the benefit of the UK economy.”

Students will not require employers to sponsor their post-Study work visa and there is no cap on the number of graduates who can take up this option. At the end of the post-Study work period graduates will need to leave the UK or apply for a different visa, such as a Tier 2 General work visa.

According to James Pitman, Managing Director for Study Group in the UK and Europe:

“The UK is a wonderful place for international students and graduates to try out their entrepreneurial ideas and to create their first businesses, in particular given the reintroduction of post-study work visas announced by the Prime Minister as part of a positive International Education Strategy. Britain prides itself on being a multicultural environment which trades with the world, and if anything, the emphasis on welcoming global talent has only increased over recent months.”

Currently the most common nationality of overseas student involved in UK university startups is Chinese, but there is a growing focus on entrepreneurship from other nations, including India with the National Indian Students and Alumni Union noting “a new chapter in UK - India ties” with Indian students and British Higher Education forming the key pillar of this bilateral relationship in “a partnership going from strength to strength.”

Learn more about how Study Group works with UK universities.

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