It has been 3 months since the All-Party Parliamentary Group for Entrepreneurship released its 2018 report on Enterprise Education. In releasing its overview of UK practice, this key report filled the vacuum left by the end of Lord Young’s work (2014) on enterprise as part of the Conservative Coalition Government. (It is worth noting that whilst Lord Young released his third and final report making the call for “Enterprise for All” in 2014, this work left many enterprise educators disappointed by its primary focus on Business Schools.)
On behalf of its members, EEUK responded to the release of the APPG for Entrepreneurship report on 14th Nov, delighted that the APPG for Entrepreneurship had put the agenda in front of Ministers, and generally welcoming the 8 recommendations that it makes to Government. But how can EEUK members use this report to support their own work?
“Enterprise educators in universities are already awake to the importance of inspiring the next generation through enterprise education, but they are ambitious to achieve more” (P4).
Having a summary document, full of examples of national practice (such as those taken from EEUK members ) can be extremely powerful in helping move your institutional agenda forward. For example the “political context” section provides a useful history (including an overview of Government departments; key policy documents; overview of the approaches of UK nation states and the influence of European policy) of this agenda (pages 5-8) and from page 9 you can pull out key pieces of evidence. But to break it down further, and using our three Fellowship pathways (academic, practitioner, and influencer ) as a way to classify the points, we have drawn out some key messages from the report to help you in your role as an enterprise educator.
Take a look at these statements that support your work, whether you are:
- Needing evidence to support your ambitions: “too few university students are exposed to enterprise education” (p21)
- “Business schools aren’t always the best place to teach entrepreneurship, as it can become constrained by a disciplinary focus. The consensus is for increased multi-disciplinary approaches that are able to respond to unique requirements” (p22/23)
- Importance of getting the language right: “If students aren’t familiar with the terms used, they are less likely to believe it’s relevant to them. In part, using terminology that students understand will increase engagement” (p25)
- Looking at impact?
- Read page 14 and the work of JADE which indicates that
- “Entrepreneurship programmes stimulate the intentions of graduates to become entrepreneurs. Alumni who attended entrepreneurial courses have a stronger desire for a transition towards entrepreneurship than those who did not”
- “Participation in just one entrepreneurship course had such a significant impact on students’ perception of entrepreneurship and personal intentions” (p14 citing research on MBA students in Israel)
- Or explore the findings from Norway on page 18 such as “In 1997, it was found that three times more entrepreneurship education graduates started a business compared with other graduates”
- Looking to make your case on start-ups: “a survey found that two-thirds of founders of student start-ups said their university influenced them to start their business” (p4) Source: Research to Assess the Nature and Annual Value of Student Start-Ups, HEFCE.
- Making a case on business growth: “Entrepreneurship education contributes to the growth of firms, especially small firms. On average, small firms employing entrepreneurship graduates have greater sales and employment growth than those that employ non-entrepreneurship graduates” (p10)
- Making a case for skills as well as start-up: “Skill development was the most commonly cited benefit of participating in extracurricular enterprise activities and valued for its applicability to both entrepreneurial activity and preparedness for employment” (see p15 citing the work of Dr Sarah Preedy which also found:
- 77% of respondents cited personal growth as a benefit of engaging in extracurricular enterprise education. Participation had enhanced their understanding of their strengths and weaknesses and bolstered their confidence.
- 73% of respondents cited knowledge acquisition as a benefit of engagement.
- 73% of respondents cited enhanced social capital as a benefit of engagement.
- Looking to make the case: “The numerous case studies profiled throughout the report show the value that enterprise education delivers to students, but one size doesn’t fit all” (p3)
- it seems to be easier for entrepreneurship alumni to find employment immediately after their graduation ..They also experience fewer periods of unemployment than alumni who did not attend entrepreneurial courses” (p18 citing JADE research)
- “too few university students are exposed to enterprise education. One reason for this is down to too much work being undertaken in silos within universities, or without an appreciation of the benefits of developing an effective ecosystem”(p21)
- For discussion of (KEF) impact, see MIT reports quoted on page 12 “Entrepreneurship education also promotes the transfer of technology from the university to the private sector”
- But if it not just about start-ups – see recommendation on page 23 “A danger of the relative ease with which the impact of entrepreneurship education can be quantitatively measured is that it becomes the focus of universities’ efforts to monitor impact”.
- Looking to make institutional change: “The ambition of ‘enterprise for all’ will only be achieved if incentives are aligned and enterprise skills made a priority at the highest level” (p3)
- “A coordinated approach to the provision of enterprise and entrepreneurship education is needed, with appropriate oversight and strategic management. This is not the case in many universities, which suffer from overlapping and patchy provision” (p21)
- Addressing issues of short-term project funding see p25 “Most funding has the disadvantage of funding uncertainty that inhibits long-term programme planning and staff retention. There is some concern that these unsustainable mechanisms may act as a disincentive to the teaching profession and academic researchers pursuing enterprise education. In the Call for Evidence, it was described as a fragile environment of boom and bust that limits longer term planning and engagement by staff with this agenda”
To forward the agenda, engage your senior management and governors with the recommendations: (Page 20 recommendations)
According to EEUK, the senior management at universities should be the government’s specific audience, but a “lack of consistent Government support creates cascading issues of concern for EEUK members, which result in structural weakness for this agenda. As a result, lack of top-down commitment and support from institutional senior management creates the need for a flexible response from staff, who may have to sacrifice building infrastructure and strong foundations within the University eco-system in order to deliver annual outputs or respond to changing student numbers (demand) or budgets.”
As the APPG for Entrepreneurship concludes: “If we can expand access and improve quality, then the prize is a workforce that is more productive, innovative, and adaptable” (p29).
Head of Policy, Enterprise Educators UK