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[Singapore] 80% Of Students In Country Interested In Entrepreneurship

Almost 80-percent of students in Singapore are interested in entrepreneurship, if the results from a recent survey are to be believed. According to the results from the latest Global University Entrepreneurial Spirit Students’ Survey (GUESSS), 79.8% of students here showed “Entrepreneurial Interest”, defined by the study as having given some thought to founding their own business.

The results were revealed today by the NUS Entrepreneurship Centre, which participated in the international biennial research project initiated by the Swiss Research Institute of Small Business and Entrepreneurship at Switzerland’s University of St. Gallen. In Singapore, the survey was conducted through the three public universities and five polytechnics, surveying a total of 3,133 locally-based students. In total, 26 countries participated in the survey, tapping some 93,265 students.

In addition, 37.5-percent of Singapore students were “Intentional Founders”, or having given repeated serious thoughts to founding their own business – interestingly, this number is higher than the OECD average of 36.3-percent. However, Singapore has a lower proportion of active founders (defined as those who are currently active in a self-founded business – at only 1.1-percent, far lower than the OECD average of 2.5-percent.

Other interesting entrepreneurial trends revealed by GUESSS 2011 include:

– Singapore IHL (Institute of Higher Learning) students’ Short Term Entrepreneurial Aspirations – defined as an aspiration to be a founder or successor right after studies – were higher (18.8%) than the OECD average (10.7%). This trend was similar for the Long Term Entrepreneurial Aspiration (55.0% for Singapore compared with 42.6% for OECD average), for those who aspire to be a founder or successor 5 years after studies.

– Amongst the Intentional Founders, more students in Singapore IHLs (6.9%) have taken concrete steps to actualize their intentions, compared to the OECD average (5.2%). These concrete steps include setting a date for foundation, or asking institutions for funding.

– Entrepreneurship programs offered by Singapore IHLs are generally well- received. Significantly more Singapore IHL students (75%) are aware of these programs compared to the OECD average (56%). More Singapore IHL students (42.7%) agreed that IHLs provide a favorable climate for them to become entrepreneurs than the OECD average (29.6%). Students also rated Singapore’s IHL climate for fostering entrepreneurship highly, at 4.441. This is higher than the international average of 3.74 and ranked second amongst the OECD countries, behind France.
Within Singapore, there were higher levels of entrepreneurial intentions and activities for certain groups. These were:

  • Students from the business schools were more likely to be Intentional Founders (51.5% compared to 35.1% of non-business schools) and Active Founders (1.9% compared to 1.0% of non-business schools).
  • Male students were more likely to be Intentional Founders (44.2% compared to 32.0% for females) and Active Founders (2.0% compared 0.4% for females).
  • Students with entrepreneurial family backgrounds were more likely to be Intentional Founders (45.7% and 46.4% for students with parents who were currently or formerly self-employed, compared to 32.6% for students without entrepreneurial parents) and Active Founders (1.9% and 2.3% for students with parents who are currently or formerly self-employed, compared with 0.6% for students without entrepreneurial parents).
  • Polytechnic students were more likely to be Intentional Founders (39% compared to 35.8% for University students), but less likely to be Active Founders (0.8% compared to 1.5% for University students).

When focusing on the satisfaction of entrepreneurship programs within Singapore IHLs, there were notable differences between students in the Universities and Polytechnics. Intentional founders from the Universities reported higher awareness/ participation (47.2%) and satisfaction (3.75 2 ) with entrepreneurship programs compared to their Polytechnic counterparts (41.7% and 3.61 respectively). Intentional founders from the Polytechnics expressed higher demand (22.7%) for entrepreneurship programs, compared to their University counterparts (8.8%).

“It appears that between 2000 and 2008, the level of entrepreneurship engagement amongst students rose, though this fell between 2008 and 2011. This is despite the fact that the level of entrepreneurship interest remained steady since 2000,” says Professor Wong Poh Kam, Director of the NUS Entrepreneurship Centre, who led the GUESSS 20111 survey in Singapore.

“One reason for this could be due to the fact that GUESSS 2008 was conducted during an economically- vibrant period, prior to the global financial crisis. However, in 2011 there was uncertainty in the global economy and this environment could have influenced students’ interests and actions in becoming entrepreneurs,” added Prof Wong.


Daniel Goh is the founder and chief editor of Young | Upstarts, as well as an F&B entrepreneur. Daniel has a background in public relations, and is interested in issues in entrepreneurship, small business, marketing, public relations and the online space. He can be reached at daniel [at] youngupstarts [dot] com.

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