The Year in Enterprise module offers students academic credit, funding and coaching to develop a business idea after the conclusion of the standard undergraduate studies; adding ‘with year in Enterprise’ to their degree title. They are given a dedicated business coach with whom they set out a plan for the duration of the module, totaling nine sessions. We leverage our networks around the university, our alumni and the wider region to inspire and support the students, as well as provide them with workspace and priority access to other programmes and funding.
Development and Delivery
How did you develop and deliver it?
The module was developed over a year and made available in 2019. Our first students joined the module in 2020/21. It was promoted through social media and information events where students could ask about the module.
We have several coaches who we pay as coaches for an existing programme who were keen to offer their services.
How was it funded?
The initial version of the module was supported by HEIF. However, the student would normally pay 20% of existing fees and this can help to cover much of the direct costs of delivery.
Were there any partners?
What were the obstacles (if any) and how did you overcome them?
We have to compete against other placement schemes with big name employers and had some teething problems with entrepreneurial students meeting the academic requirements to apply. We also needed to find two enterprising students willing to be the first on the module.
COVID has had an impact on the use of workspace (Which has an implication on Student Loan funding) however both our students are able to work around this and have taken advantage of the situation, using it to approach people who are more accessible via zoom than in person. The economic landscape has meant a change in focus for our students but we feel this is reflective of the agile way of working we are encouraging through the placement.
The scheme is intended to develop the students to the point that they feel able to progress further with their business after the module ends, or have the confidence and knowledge to equip them with transferrable skills to take forward in whatever new path they choose. A further impact is that it has provided a focal point for students taking part in other modules at York, and helps promote the enterprise offer more broadly across faculties and departments at the University. Setting up the module has also meant that I have met and shared ideas and practice with other EEUK members who are at various stages of embedding and developing their own courses.
Students are obligated to complete a reflective blog via our VLE, which helps them think about the aspects of the module, from team working, coping with stress and money management to determining individual values. This is a formative piece which is then assessed as a written assessment at the end of the year.
The Year In Enterprise is what we would refer to as a ‘flagship’ module, along with our Venture One fund – both are opportunities to attract students into our startup community at York. This has in turn sparked discussions about the lines of communication between ‘siloed’ areas of the University and the development of a clearer overall ‘package’ of enterprise support.
This has highlighted the need for a clear ‘front door’ for enterprise; with a range of benefits and support on offer to students who join our programmes. Having a scheme like the Year in Enterprise demonstrates the commitment from the university to support the growth of enterprise as a viable and worthwhile alternative to traditional graduate routes.
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