Published: 17 Feb 2021
Last updated: 26 May 2023
Prospective students with dreams of running a business may want to consider applying to Falmouth University as a new study from Capital on Tap found that the Cornish institution had the highest proportion of graduates that went on to start or manage a business.
Top 10 universities for business
Top 10 universities for business leaders
With almost a quater (23.5%) of graduates going on to become business leaders, Falmouth beat out university powerhouses Oxford, Cambridge, and St Andrews to claim the top spot. Despite an average ranking of 67th across various league tables, 11% of Falmouth graduates went on to start their own business, and 1 in 10 are freelancers - meaning that Falmouth produces more self-starters than any other UK university.
With an average league table rank of 69th place, the University of the Arts London came in second place with more than a fifth (22.5%) of its graduates now in business leadership roles. In fact, UAL graduates were the most likely to be an entrepreneur, with almost 14% of alumni having founded or co-founded a business.
Rounding out the rest of the top five were, Oxford, LSE and the Arts University of Bournemouth.
Widely considered as one of the worlds most prestigious learning institutions, the University of Oxford produces a higher percentage of C-Suite members than any other university, with 7.2% of alumni going on to hold titles such as CEO, Managing Director, Executive Director etc.
In fact, the top five universities for producing business leaders also have a top 10 ranking across university league tables.
Representing smaller schools were the Universities of Bradford, Cumbria and London Metropolitan University who despite an average league table ranking of 79th, 119th, and 122nd respectively, were all among the top 10 schools most likely to produce graduates who went on to fill business leadership roles.
Top 10 universities for business founders
Ranked second overall, the University of Arts London also topped the list for the university most likely to produce entrepreneurs, with more than 1 in 10 (13.7%) of its graduates going on to form their own start-up.
With an average league table ranking of 69th place, UAL proves that there’s more to choosing where to study than league tables alone.
Rounding out the top five were Falmouth with 11.4%, LSE (10.7%), Oxford (10.1%), and Bath Spa with 9.5%.
Top 10 universities for freelancers
While it’s not for everyone, freelancers can benefit from greater flexibility in their workload and hours, and they’re also not limited by geography, meaning they can work for anyone, from anywhere - making it an increasingly popular choice among young professionals.
Ranking first overall, Falmouth was also the most likely to have its graduates go on to become freelancers, with more than 10% currently working in freelance roles.
Three of the top five universities for freelancers were art schools. Freelancing is particularly common in creative industries where people value having more creative control over the projects they work on or have niche and specific skills that might make it difficult to find fulltime work with a single company.
The fact that such a high proportion of their graduates go on to pursue freelance work indicates that these universities are equipping their students with the skills they need in order to work for themselves.
Top 50 universities for business
Explore the data for the top 50 schools in our study in the table below. Select ‘Rank’ or ‘Total’ to return the table to its original state.
David Luck, CEO of Capital on Tap said: “Going to university is an opportunity for young people to develop the life skills needed to be truly independent of their parents, but university programs, clubs, societies and the student unions also give students a chance to develop other skills - some of which will lend themselves well to business management and ownership.
While some universities come with a certain level of prestige, our study showed that there are plenty of lesser-known institutions producing high proportions of business leaders. Proving that students should take the time to research the culture of a university and not just look at rankings when it comes to choosing which school is right for them.
The coronavirus pandemic has resulted in a lot of uncertainty around the future of the jobs market. As a result, small business owners, particularly young entrepreneurs, will likely play a significant role in helping to drive the economy forward during the road to recovery.”
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An analysis of 10,849,900 university graduates on LinkedIn.
Percentages were taken from the proportion of accounts listed as a graduate from the given university with a corresponding job title.
Business Leaders = CEO, Managing Director, Executive Director etc.
Founders = Founder, Co-Founder, Owner
Average Rankings = Average position across Times, Guardian, Complete University Guide, and UKUni league tables.
Correct as of 17th Feb 2021.