Education: A grant is only the start for a student tycoon: I'm a pinko liberal capitalist

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The Independent Online
WHILE most students just manage to eke out a living, their entrepreneurial colleagues prosper. Some of them run their own businesses as self-styled free marketeers; others do it simply to boost their meagre incomes. Gareth Davies, Steph McKeown, Emma Peacock and Rachel Powell-Ford spoke to four students who have used grants, loans and other borrowings to earn themselves a more comfortable life than the archetypal undergraduate.

ROB RETI, 22, an undergraduate studying social and political science at Queens' College, Cambridge, may be the first student to make money out of a student newspaper.

'I had three loans in three years, I think it totalled about pounds 1,500. The recent one was to get a printer; last year's was just making ends meet; and in the first year, it was to invest in a computer, which is an integral part of my business.

'I'm largely in publishing - magazines, books - although newspapers are my biggest thing. The Cambridge Student News was purely a commercial business that was staffed by students.

'I worked very hard. In the end we invested pounds 13,000 to pounds 14,000 in equipment, offices, marketing and all that. I was responsible for the business end, and we put together an expensive media package and blitzed every local business and every graduate recruiter coming to Cambridge. In the end we made pounds 17,000 to pounds 18,000 in the first term.

'We closed it down at the end of the Christmas vacation because we couldn't find replacements for the editorial staff. To carry on would have meant risking all the money and organisation that had gone into it. People we couldn't trust would have been running the paper because we had finals coming up. It was only going for one hectic term, but profits were pounds 4,500 to pounds 5,000.

'Nothing I've done since then has made such a big profit. I've done small jobs for other publications where the percentage profit on the time spent was huge, but they didn't have the same kind of volume.

'I haven't done much since then because I've been cramming for exams. I lost summer and Christmas vacations to the paper so I had a lot of work to make up, but I don't think there will be a problem with an upper Second eventually. I suppose I'm now back to basic student life.

'I'm definitely better off than most students - even a small job means pounds 200 or pounds 300 a bash. Five or six hundred pounds extra a term is small beer in the real world but it makes a great difference to a student - I mean, I've got a pounds 4,000 computer sitting in my room. I have about pounds 1,000 in the bank I suppose, which is not a huge amount.

'In terms of enterprise culture I suppose I am a child of the Eighties, but I detest Thatcherism. People keep pointing out the dichotomy between my political views and the way I lead my life. I suppose I'm a pinko liberal capitalist.'

(Photograph omitted)

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