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EEUK comments on the BIS study into the impact of enterprise education

Enterprise Educators UK (EEUK) welcomes last week’s publication of the ‘Enterprise Education: impact in higher and further education’ report by the UK government department for Business Innovation and Skills (BIS). In particular we acknowledge BIS’s positive movement towards establishing an evidence-based approach to how it supports enterprise education.

It will come as no surprise to anyone in the sector that the evidence indicates that enterprise education:

 - Leads to the acquisition of business-related knowledge, skills and competencies for enterprise and entrepreneurship;

 - Changes attitudes to risk-taking, self-employment, and being entrepreneurial;

 - Has a statistical relationship with economic impacts such as:

  1. Starting a new business
  2. Increasing employability and earnings
  3. Contributing to the growth of a business

However, the question remains: what works best for delivering impactful enterprise education? The report establishes that there is simply not enough evidence to support the relative impact of different formats. Whilst I’m sure more academic colleagues might pass comment on the validity of the methodology of this report itself I think we can all agree that more research is required.

We do acknowledge the inherent difficulties in tracking the outcomes of enterprise education; establishing what impacts can be correlated to which inputs is a tremendously difficult task. When that mix of inputs includes curricular, extra-curricular, formal and informal learning, not to mention intensive and traditional taught courses, and often a mix of all the above, it can be hard to apportion the credit for future impacts. As such we would endorse the recommendation that BIS explores a longitudinal study of the outcomes of enterprise education to better evidence what inputs have any effect on different outputs.

Crucially, only economic outputs were assessed here, and enterprise education covers considerably more ground than that. We would encourage BIS and others who are looking to measure enterprise education to also consider the social, cultural, and personal gains that can be ascribed to involvement in enterprise education.

EEUK would like to highlight its willingness to play an active and constructive role in continuing to develop research and policy in this area.

Dave Jarman, Chairman, EEUK

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