EEUK Chair, Directors and members attended the launch of the APPG for Entrepreneurship report (14th Nov 2018) on Enterprise Education. Jon Powell, Chair of EEUK welcomed the report which reflects the scope and scale of activities throughout our membership, saying:
“EEUK members work tirelessly to create entrepreneurial outcomes in others. We welcome the message to University leadership and the UK Government that enterprise educators need clear policy and localised strategies to support their practice. Enterprise Education is critical in unlocking the potential of graduates and enabling the UK to achieve its growth aspirations though an ideal of ‘enterprise for all’.”
The 8 report recommendations focus on clarity, consistency and support to build the wider eco-system and echo the thrust of the EEUK 2018/9 policy messages which call upon university leaders and the government to enable the environment by supporting longer term planning and activity.
During his welcome to the House of Lords, Philip Salter, @APPG_E and The Entrepreneurs Network thanked EEUK members for their contributions to the report. Declaring “the evidence is clear, it works”, Philip summarised their experience of analysing responses to their call for evidence in order to undertake their extensive review of enterprise education across the UK. EEUK Patron, Lord Bilimoria, opened the event, focusing thoughts on the role of enterprise within UK universities and underlining how they support entrepreneurship through teaching. Reflecting on how perceptions of entrepreneurship have changed in his lifetime, Lord Bilimoria declared that now “entrepreneurship is cool”. In recognising that “that enterprise education isn’t just for the business school” Lord Bilimoria spoke about instilling mindset, not just skills, and recognised the power of the entrepreneurial mindset for all: “entrepreneurship is an attitude. At large organisations, the mindset is playing ‘not to lose’. Entrepreneurs play to win”. The launch closed with powerful opportunities to hear from entrepreneurs who were graduate business starts who inspired the audience, as they were heralded as the “change makers” for the UK.
First reaction to the APPG report:
EEUK is delighted that the new report echoes our key messages, which call upon:
- The UK Government to provide an enabling policy environment in support of those creating entrepreneurial outcomes in our students.
- Government and institutional leaders to demonstrate clear and consistent commitment to the enterprise and entrepreneurship agenda in order to ensure members are able to deliver for our students and graduates.
- Institutional leaders to commit to the creation of the entrepreneurial ecosystem that is structured and resourced for long term success.
Sourcing examples and evidence from our Board, Fellows, membership and from across key activities in the UK, (such as EEUK’s annual conference IEEC) the new report brings together the latest in UK thinking. It showcases examples from EEUK’s impact cases and member institutions, such as: The HIVE at Nottingham Trent; London South Bank University, BSEEN at Aston University, University of Birmingham, Venture Matrix Sheffield Hallam University, University of Buckingham, University of Kent, Newcastle University and the icure programme from SetSquared universities.
The report recognises the breadth of activity across UK universities, as well as the challenges in measuring the effectiveness of enterprise education, stating “there just isn’t enough funding to properly assess everything being done”. The report draws together this national evidence bank to make 8 recommendations which are presented below. EEUK has provided our initial commentary and welcomes further reflections from members:
1) The Government should recognise, engage with and respond more often to the enterprise education community and back universities’ senior management in supporting enterprise education.
EEUK’s key messages 2018/19 seek consistency and clarity from senior managers. EEUK evidence showed that some members experience a “roller coaster” of insecurity and change, which can manifest itself as a time-consuming justification and re-justification of enterprise activities. EEUK welcomes this critical acknowledgement of the need for commitment to support members to develop the entrepreneurial eco-system.
2) To support the aspiration of “enterprise is for all” the Government should ensure the right incentives are in place, so enterprise education isn’t delivered in silos.
EEUK recognises that enterprise activities can be housed in a range of appropriate places within a university. Recognising that organisational structures are often historic, and responsibilities can be focused across faculties, extra or co-curricular activities and/or be primarily externally facing, EEUK welcomes the statement that enterprise education is not effective when delivered in silos. The previous parliamentary focus on Business Schools as the only institutional driver was not felt to be reflective of members’ work with students from across all subject areas, as well as externally. Determining where activity is placed, and how it is reported (both internally and externally) is often “institutionally unique” and mission related, but the core of this message, EEUK agrees that enterprise education needs to be available to all, and this is most welcome.
3) The Government should ensure it doesn’t incentive business start-ups to the detriment of wider enterprise education.
Recognition of the need for pipelines and eco-system is key to creating impact and EEUK is delighted to see this forming a key recommendation of the report. Understanding that metrics shine a spotlight, which can impact negatively on wider activities is key to unpicking, and supporting, the effective development of an entrepreneurial eco-system. EEUK welcomes this recommendation in its appreciation for need to support the diverse activities that form enterprise education, both in the curriculum and beyond.
4) The Government should ensure it is flexible in the language it uses around enterprise education so university students are not deterred from enterprise.
With many EEUK members acknowledging the need for the clear terminology provided by QAA (2018) and Entrecomp (2018) they also know the power of engaging staff and students through relevant and authentic language. Members who recognise that creating entrepreneurial outcomes in others is most effective when delivered in appropriate, subject/industry-based language are seeking to deliver for their students, but cause problems for those using basic metrics to measure change. This recommendation requires government and university leaders to recognise the role of the enterprise educator as a translator in making the agenda relevant for students.
5) The government should offer clarity on funding, particularly in the context of Brexit.
With the APPG report making the case for enterprise education as a key driver within “UK PLC”, Brexit is likely to impact upon members who have traditionally innovated their enterprise activities through EU funding. This is an increasing concern for university staff who are looking to secure programmes and staff in order to deliver. It is also predicted to be a key issue for those working effectively within a local landscape, who fear the loss of key partners within their eco-system and recognise the impact that this will have.
6) The government should take steps to improve the pipeline of enterprise education through primary, secondary and higher education. This should include a longer-term focus for destinations data.
With messages on educational pipeline coming from APPG for micro business (2014) “An education system fit for an entrepreneur” and Lord Young’s “Enterprise for All” report (2014), the need to engage all parts of the educational pathway is key. EEUK works with partners to support activity and welcomes the spotlight that this recommendation places across all educators. This recommendation also indicates the need to get metrics right as they determine where senior managers focus, and in advance of detailed KEF announcement (due this Autumn) this report looks to LEO data as a driver for increasing employer engagement.
7) The Government should reform TEF so universities aren’t discouraged from creating successful start-ups.
APPG evidence was featured in The Times (14th Nov) and whilst EEUK remains hopeful that KEF can provide support to the agenda, it is clear that metrics create a spotlight which can diminish activities in other areas. Together with a strong message to senior management, EEUK welcomes a clear understanding that effective business start-ups are only one outcome of effective enterprise education, and that they don’t happen in isolation.
8) The Government should acknowledge that self-employment might be a suitable route for some graduates.
EEUK acknowledges that business start-up is only one of the many relevant and appropriate outcomes of enterprise education. By following an approach based on personal development, students and graduates can find that the best outcome is to explore and test ideas but defer start-up, or to take forward business ideas in partnerships or teams. All these routes are supported by EEUK members who support the individual, whilst in education and beyond, to make sense of the opportunities available to them. Case studies of graduate entrepreneurs clearly show the potential for success, but EEUK also wishes to highlight that this route is only appropriate for “some” students at the time of graduation.
EEUK’s December newsletter will feature wider reaction. Share your reaction now direct with EEUK’s Head of Policy, Alison Price.