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Nick Bonnaud ACMA
Don’t go to university – start a business instead!
Recent estimates put the average debt that university graduates will suffer at around forty four thousand pounds. This is an extraordinary sum, and has prompted me to question why there is no debate or even discussion about whether or not young bright people should start their own businesses instead of going to university.
I recognise that university can have such enormous value for those pursuing specific professional career paths. There is simply no way to advance in subjects such as medicine, geology or advanced sciences unless you have an appropriate and strong educational background. However, I also believe that there is a strong minority whose aspiration is to start a business of their own, and in a context in which graduates are likely to be paying debts into their fifties I feel it is about time that there was some debate as to whether entrepreneurialism could provide a genuine alternative for those motivated in that direction.
I was recently approached by two schools to speak about entrepreneurialism to fourteen and fifteen year olds as the subject now does appear on their curricula, and made it clear that I would be encouraging students to think about starting their own businesses – and both schools were immediately horrified.
The posh school said that all of their students were very bright and wouldn’t want anyone to dissuade them from going to university. The poor school said their students often struggled and they didn’t want anyone denting their (already fragile) aspirations to go into higher education.
Following this experience I followed up and I spoke to many parents, teachers and school administrators and it has become extremely clear that the educational system is wholly geared towards pushing students towards further education and other career aspirations, particularly entrepreneurialism, are discounted and even discouraged.
I recognise that starting a business represents a large degree of risk and is certainly not for everyone but my purpose in writing is to at least question why the status quo is so completely geared towards huge debts and further education when much more modest investment in a business could lead, for those who want it, to a much more rewarding business and life experience.
What do you think?