Purpose The purpose of this paper is to examine to what extent Finnish university students endorse entrepreneurial intent and the ways in which they position themselves in relation to entrepreneurship according to their self-perceived abilities or "ability self". Design/methodology/approach The study was conducted by means of an e-survey, and the participants comprised the sample of students (n =1,819) from two Finnish universities, representing diverse fields of study. Findings It was found that a great majority of the students showed a relatively low intent to become an entrepreneur. The perception of abilities, such as innovativeness and ambitiousness-competitiveness, was positively related with entrepreneurial intent, whereas the perception of academic abilities and "conventional" employee skills indicated inverse associations. Social implications - The findings suggest that in terms of self-perceived abilities, entrepreneurship in an academic context is perceived as a rather restricted category to which only a few specific individuals have access. Accordingly, there is a certain tension between the tenets of entrepreneurship and corresponding abilities, and the ethos of universities and related high-valued abilities such as theoreticality and criticality. Originality/value Although employability and entrepreneur intent have been widely studied, little is known about students' identification with entrepreneurship according to their ability perceptions. The present study contributes to the existing body of knowledge on university students' "internal employability" that involves students' self-assurance and views of work-related relevance with regard to supposed abilities.