More than a quarter (28 percent) of students intending to go to university have a passion project that already makes them income, with the same number wanting to turn this into a career.
Nearly three in ten (29 percent) are also sharpening their entrepreneurial skills with a part-time job and a side hustle all connected to their choice of degree.
And a third said their decision about which subject to study was led by their passion project.
As a result, it also emerged that flexibility to work and study is especially important to young adults, as 56 percent of those considering university want to work on their additional projects at the same time as their degree.
The research was commissioned by Open University, whose Vice-Chancellor Professor Tim Blackman, said: “This last year has amplified concerns about money and jobs for young people, but it’s also clear that this Generation H is hungrier than ever to make up for lost time.
“Many are approaching higher education having already plugged into their hobbies and interests, often turning these into genuine enterprises.”
The study also found 22 percent of youngsters have a passion project that doesn’t currently earn money.
And 46 percent of these say it’s on a back burner but it will lead to a career, while 16 percent believe it helps with their personal wellbeing.
On average, those with side hustles spend just under ten hours a week dedicated to them, with dedication, creativity and ambition considered to be the top traits needed to turn it into a successful project.
It also emerged that it is important to 84 percent of those polled that their future university helps them pursue their ambitions by providing expert learning advice.
Open University’s Professor Tim Blackman added: “Gen H are ahead of the game and display a determined mentality to get the most from both their study and their passions.”