With policy from education, industry and small business all impacting upon the work of the enterprise educator, EEUK (Enterprise Educators UK) acts as the “voice of the sector” by representing all those who work to create entrepreneurial outcomes in our students and learners.
Our purpose, at EEUK, is to enable excellence in enterprise education. By representing over 100-member organisations, we enable our members to share and exchange good practice and collectively seek to create positive change in UK and international policy.
At IEEC in 2017, EEUK members emphasised how institutional strategy drives their work, but felt that wider policy guidance (from a wide range of sources, such as home nations, Europe as well as UN) supported their ambitions to make change. Members report regularly drawing upon policy as a lever to engage others, internally and externally, to help them make change happen. But many expressed concerns about potential “one-size-fits-all” directive from policy makers that fails to respond to local, regional and institutional opportunities and demands. Overall EEUK members have called for “direction, not instruction” from policy makers, seeking “policy that supports our work, not dictates our practice”.
This policy blog seeks to update members on issues that directly relate to their work and share how EEUK has been supporting and influencing work in this area. Policy content seeks to enable and inform members in their roles, as well as support national developments by representing their views and concerns.
Recent work has included the consultation on the proposed Knowledge Exchange Framework (KEF) in which members called for:
- Clear submission guidance that elicits robust, verifiable and auditable institutional responses.
- Consistent measures that seek to support institutional development and provide sector learning.
- Recognition of the need to develop and sustain a wider entrepreneurial pipeline and eco-system in order to deliver KE outputs.
The use of existing data sets would be welcomed as a way to limit the administrative burden, but this requires adjustments to current practice, such as:
- Auditable/quantifiable submissions.
- All institutions to submit returns as a requirement.
- Clearly defined metrics with good submission guidance.
- Expectations of HEIF to be clarified to address the “innovation” requirement within this funding stream
EEUK members welcomed the opportunity for a KEF return to include an institutional statement to support submission of metrics that features:
- Key principles for KE (including what external stakeholders can reasonably expect when engaging with an institution)
- Key priorities over next 5 years (to support external engagement)
- HR strategy/statement that indicates how staff are supported to engage in KE
- The Governance of KE activities (senior management responsibility and reporting structure)
- Explicit statements of institutional support and commitment to student enterprise and entrepreneurship, including enterprise education would be welcomed.
- Case studies of infrastructure and capacity building, rather than detailing outputs to support the development of best practice.
- Recognition of investment in LEP or local area that many HEIs undertake in order to develop an eco-system that support outputs.
Members see opportunities to:
- Give a strong signal to senior management to consistently support and develop KE/enterprise activity through the development of a sustained entrepreneurial eco-system within and around the institution.
- Build long term continuity of KE/enterprise offer and reduce EEUK member’s experiences of internal cycle of “boom-bust” or “construction and deconstruction” as enterprise activities are subjected to fluctuating management priorities.
- A signal for universities to create the long-term commitment that will support the development of the entrepreneurial pipeline (supporting the development of infrastructure, such as incubation services, that need longer planning horizons).
- University HR Policies need increased flexibility that allows staff to apply for time/breaks to follow up enterprise opportunities without impacting upon their career prospects.
In addition, Benchmarking is welcomed by EEUK members, if used to support institutional development, creating:
Opportunities to learn from others who are exceeding expectations in particular KE activities, rather than those who are identified as institutional peer group.
- Routes to collaboration. Whilst competition is driven by absolute measures, collaboration and learning can be achieved by benchmarking best practice. As this often outside the institutional peer group, incentives to share are essential.
- Submissions that include a narrative that does not detail outputs, but helps share the lessons that can be learnt from modelling effective practice from non-peer institutions.
EEUK members have expressed fears that:
- KEF will direct institutions to focus primarily upon activities that can be counted. KEF metrics risk limiting creativity and ambition, as staff hit the risk-aversive glass ceiling of management within the University, who may focus upon “what counts” rather than “what works”. In addition, EEUK members recognise KEF potentially will add new barriers to innovation, as no manager would support activity that diverts from, or impacts negatively from KEF measures.
- KEF could focus primarily on license income and spin-out activity which will disincentive the development of the wider entrepreneurial eco-system.
- Metrics alone do not create “anchor” institutions that uplift the local economy nor do they lead to the creation of specialist technologies. EEUK wishes that KEF is recognised as an opportunity to build on excellence in the sector.
- The new scheme could be volatile at first and seek specific guidance to be provided to support submission and guidance to senior managers to help create the optimum long-term response that builds outputs.
In 2018, the key messages from EEUK members are to call for
- The UK Government to provide an enabling policy environment in support of those creating entrepreneurial outcomes in our students.
- Government and institutional leaders to demonstrate clear and consistent commitment to the enterprise and entrepreneurship agenda in order to deliver for our students and graduates.
- Institutional commitment to the creation of the entrepreneurial eco-system that is structured and resourced for long term success.
Head of Policy, EEUK