Sir Richard Branson: I would love to have gone to university

In a video interview in The Telegraph, 03/06/13, Billionaire entrepreneur Sir Richard Branson talks about the importance of STEM subjects and how he wishes he had gone to university in his thirties "when I'd already had a lot of experiences".

The Virgin Group founder said universities can play an "absolutely invaluable" role in providing mentors for young entrepreneurs.

Speaking to former Education Secretary David Blunkett, Sir Richard said he had planned to go to university when he turned 40 but was dissuaded from doing so by his wife.

"When I was 40 I said to my wife 'I’m taking two years off to go to university', and she said 'It’s a midlife crisis – you’re just after those young ladies at the university'," he said.

Sir Richard said a focus on the STEM subjects – science, technology, engineering and mathematics – is particularly important for links between higher education and business.

But he added that for some young people who are "really entrepreneurially minded" and have a good idea, "there is an argument that those people should just get out into the real world and give it a go". Sir Richard, who is thought to be worth £3bn, began his career as an entrepreneur running The Student, a national magazine for young people.In the interview for London School of Business and Finance, he recalled: "When I was at school I was developing a national magazine for young people, and the headmaster called me in one day and said “You can either run your magazine or you do your schoolwork – you can’t do both. So you’ve got to decide whether you want to stay at the school or not”. "And I was 15 years old and I said thank you very much but I’m going to leave the school and run my magazine. And I think that was a big mistake by the headmaster. "He said universities should be encouraging students "to be starting their business within the university". "When Larry Page came up with the idea of Google he left university early to do it. When Steve Jobs came up with the idea of Apple he had to leave university to do it. "But I think what you ideally need to do is encourage these people – or some of them anyway – to stay within the confines of the university and get help."

Click here to read the article and watch the interview © The Telegraph.