The University of Sheffield: Enterprise Academy

The Enterprise Academy supports colleagues who teach at The University of Sheffield to embed five enterprise capabilities in the taught curriculum: authentic problem-solving, innovation and creativity, risk-taking, taking action, and true collaboration. By empowering academic colleagues in this manner, enterprise is truly ‘embedded’ and contextualised in the curriculum instead of being provided as a ‘bolt-on’, leading to deeper learning. Not only this, but through this model, a greater number of students have the opportunity to develop enterprise capabilities than would otherwise be possible through extra-curricular or bolt-on options.

Development and Delivery

The Academy was launched in 2014 after extensive ‘customer development’ consultations with colleagues. The Academy consists of a team of three educational developers working within and funded by University of Sheffield Enterprise, each supporting particular faculties. The support for teaching colleagues includes:

  • one-to-one support in curriculum development and design
  • curriculum development grants
  • support for CPD opportunities (e.g. attending IEEC)
  • support to disseminate
  • online resource bank for teaching tools
  • events and workshops
  • networking opportunities
  • direct delivery where appropriate.

One of the key challenges has been to engage with teaching colleagues who are not the ‘usual suspects’ who are already highly engaged with enterprise education or learning and teaching development in general. One of our most successful initiatives in overcoming this challenge has been the establishment of enterprise curriculum development grants – the majority of which we have awarded to colleagues who have not previously engaged with USE or enterprise education.


The immediate impact of the initiative is on teaching staff. The Academy supports both the development of colleagues’ curricula, and their personal professional development as educators. In 2015/16, the Academy engaged with 172 members of staff across the different areas of support, on 46 discrete curriculum developments. There has also been a wider impact on the institution, as enterprise education has become one of the key elements in the provision of excellent learning and teaching at The University of Sheffield

The eventual impact, however, is on the students, and this is seen in a number of ways. Because of the Academy’s dual approach of ‘train the trainers’ and ‘true embedding’, more students have the opportunity to develop enterprise capabilities. Because this development is contextualised within their discipline, the students can develop key competencies that are directly relevant to their likely careers, aiding their employability.

Engaging with enterprise in the curriculum also provides students with an entry point to further enterprise and entrepreneurship education opportunities offered by the USE team, increasing engagement with and awareness of enterprise as a wider opportunity.

Impact Measurement

Impact is measured and evidenced in a number of ways.

The educational developers record every instance of ‘intervention’ or engagement with academics, and where that engagement is directly related to a module or programme, the student cohort affected is also recorded. Direct delivery from the educational developers is also recorded. Qualitative data is also collected in various forms including but not limited to:

  • student module evaluation
  • impact reports from supported colleagues post-intervention
  • feedback from CPD events
  • employability evidence (e.g. evidence of students going on to employment in organisations with whom they have worked on authentic projects)
  • staff progression/recognition evidence (e.g. use of enterprise education development as a part of application for HEA fellowship)
  • Pipeline evidence from other areas of USE provision (e.g. number of students engaging with extra-curricular provision after engaging with enterprise in the curriculum).

Recording longer-term impacts of embedded enterprise, particularly in terms of graduates, remains a challenge, and the team is currently exploring ways to evidence this.

Entrepreneurial Organisation

The implementation of the Academy ‘train the trainer’ model means that every member of teaching staff at The University of Sheffield can be an enterprise educator. Enterprise education is truly embedded within academic programmes and curricula, allowing for a diverse set of approaches. This means that many more students have the opportunity to develop enterprise capabilities than those that can be supported outside of the curriculum. Enterprise education is a key element in the University’s commitment to developing an ‘outward-facing’ curriculum, where students learn in a truly authentic manner.

Next steps?

As part of the next steps for the Academy, we would like to develop our support for educators exploring embedding enterprise across whole programmes, not just in discrete modules. We will also continue to explore ways to evidence the impact of embedded enterprise education on employability and entre/intrapreneurial outcomes.

Contact Name

Dr Ali Riley

Contact Email Address