Enterprise, Preparing for your future

Why we must be careful not to stereotype all students as ‘lazy layabouts’

Iheanyi, Enterprise Officer, explains why all students should not be labelled as ‘lazy’…












While I do not believe for one second that we all feel this way about all students (both higher and tertiary level) or all young people for that matter, you can’t avoid this stereotypical perception at some level when you are around any discussion about university students or their college counterparts. In my experience, this is highlighted even more when dealing with the issue of ‘student engagement’. I accept sometimes these are ‘throw away’ or ‘tongue in cheek’ remarks.

This does not also mean there aren’t any lazy layabout types around. I have met a few in my time. But then again you find lazy types in all works of life and at all levels. I feel it’s just a case of putting things into perspective sometimes.

I do not have any data to hand to support this, but speak to most professionals today and a decent number will tell you they had no idea what they wanted to do or become when they started their degree courses. Some will drop out somewhere around the journey (for a range of reasons both within and outside their control) and some will go ahead and change their degrees. I have always felt educational institutions are ‘testing grounds’ to acquire a range of technical, professional and life skills to prepare you as best they can for the outside world.

I dare to say the ‘university environment’ today has moved on from maybe a decade ago. The priorities are now different to meet the demands of a changing world. Most top universities and colleges, if not all, will have the phrase ‘student experience’ or a derivation of the phrase in their policies. Institutions are almost expected to produce a complete ready-made pupil for whatever subsequent scenario they are moving into. Colleges are expected to produce pupils ready and equipped for university or apprenticeship and universities are expected to produce graduates ready for the job market.

There is nothing particularly wrong with this or trying to equip these cohorts, but it also means the institutions have to try and communicate these priorities to these cohorts. Considering the amount of services available to the students (I am not even including their commitment to their academic pursuits which is the primary reason they are there in the first place), the deluge of positively intended nudge to get involved with a range of potentially benefiting extra-curricular activities can be overwhelming – especially if you have no concrete idea of what you want to do in the future. Coupled with part-time jobs, it is easy to stretch them in all directions.

For those students who are pretty sure of what they would like to do, it is relatively easier to wade through the deluge and identify what is required but can potentially be a minefield for others. This is where a good Careers Team is vital to help both groups navigate the situation.

My real reason for putting my thought to paper (or electronically for the purists) is coming across yet another write up about the rise in the number of UK student start-ups (Megan Dunsby Mar 23, 2016).

The article (based on research by PeoplePerHour) shows the number of student-founded start-ups in the UK is “soaring” with a 42% increase in the last 12 months alone.

The research, which surveyed 1,549 new business founders, found that the majority of university graduates that had started a business had done so because of a lack of job security (61%), to earn money to reduce their student debts (49%), and to benefit from being their own boss (35%).

When it comes to balancing business with studying, 29% of the student start-ups surveyed said they ran their business between lectures and a surprising 11% said they had actually worked on their business while in class.

The research shoots down stereotypes about lazy, layabout students and demonstrates that there is no shortage of motivation among students.

It’s really encouraging to see such a great spirit of entrepreneurialism and hard work amongst young people.


Inspired? Get involved with Cardiff University Enterprise and Start-up!

Do you have entrepreneurial inspirations and aspirations? Cardiff University Enterprise and Start-up could help you realise your full potential in business and entrepreneurship. It’s all about thinking creatively, spotting opportunities, making things happen and developing skills for life. It’s not just about business; it’s about helping you to make the most of yourself.

We run workshops, competitions and sessions to help you develop skills and knowledge. Find out about all our courses and sessions on the intranet, follow us on Facebook and Twitter, with #ideastolife, or email us at entreprise@cardiff.ac.uk.


Your feedback and help please

Have you found this blog post useful?  Please help us by commenting in the comments bar below, and  if there is anything further you’d like to know ask your questions there too.

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Best wishes,

Iheanyi, Enterprise Project Officer.







Your Student Life, Supported.

The Student Support Centre has a range of services dedicated to helping students make the most of their time at University, including: Advice and MoneyCareers and EmployabilityCounselling, Health and Wellbeing, Disability and Dyslexia and International Student Support. The Student Support Centres are located at 50 Park Place, Cathays Campus and Cardigan House, Heath Park Campus.

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