Future proofing

Written by Alison Price

As outputs, outcomes and impact drive many of our projects and institutional activities, EEUK members know the real impact that they make is on the person as an individual.

Discussions at our national conference “IEEC” are always a big reminder of the impact EEUK members can have on an individual’s life, both in the classroom and outside.  (This is something that you will have witnessed first-hand if you attended the first night IEEC2018 event hosted by University of Leeds Spark team, led by Head of “Business Start-Up” Kairen Skelley who introduced IEEC delegates to a wide range of starts such as @Bloomin_Buds).

EEUK members already know that tracking students and graduate businesses is not as simple as it first appears, and this impact, whilst tangible, can be difficult to record. Just as it can be difficult to manage the year-on-year (term by term) institutional changes as well as support the on-going development of an infrastructure, or eco-system, that effective enterprise education needs.  Admittedly time for reflection and planning can be hard to carve out, especially mid-term as the varying student numbers demand an agile response from across the whole enterprise team.  However now is the time to reflect on how you are building supportive infrastructure around your activity and how are you “future proofing” yourself, your team and your activity.

It can be tempting to wait until the final decisions are made on metrics, or institutional measures are sought, but EEUK members are finding now is the time to share their story of impact, and often as part of a ‘future proofing’ strategy. Demonstrating how the enterprise activity at your institution is changing lives through metrics as well as through case studies and storytelling can be extremely powerful and a key part of evidencing your worth.

So, with the focus on delivery and activity, now is the time to sit down and review how your eco-system is working and what evidence is emerging to help you track, and then pre-empt/respond to the changes year on year.  How are you capturing your impact both regionally and nationally as your institution builds its reputation for enterprise?  How can recording student quotes and testimonial evidence your impact on the lives of individuals as builders of skills and confidence, as well as supports of graduate entrepreneurs?

EEUK recognises this story can be hard to tell as enterprise educators are atypical in the sector, often working with individuals who are “pre”-pre-starts one minute, and then building growth ambition into existing businesses or a new start-up the next.  But capturing this richness is part of the story and understanding that story can help build your eco-system and secure your future and build that of your students.  It is clear that really knowing where your new starts are coming from and recognising the need to adjust the offer to address gender or subject/discipline imbalances can help build an institutions entrepreneurial capacity.

And if you don’t know where to start, start talking to your students, and share your story with EEUK who showcases the work of its members through their impact showcase.