At IEEC2019 I “lifted the lid” on the work that EEUK does on behalf of its members, and invited Associates to get even more involved with EEUK policy work in order to amplify their voices.
Reseach England’s KEF (the Knowledge Exchange Framework) dominated EEUK’s English policy work last year as we responded to the consulation by drawing together Associates in online focus groups to discuss our response. Such responses, together with those selected as pilots from each of the proposed “clusters”, came together in a new report that was released in August 2019
Whilst this doesn’t commit Research England to any particular way forward, EEUK was pleased to see that many of our concerns were raised within the report as it questioned:
- The concerns inherent with the use of income-based metrics (notably the issue that within in public/third sector, KE is not monetised and therefore not well reflected in proposed metrics)
- The limited ability of KEF to provide businesses with useful information (p7)
- The role of student (extra-curricular and placements/apprenticeships) and whether student contributions (student KE outputs) were reflected enough (p8)
- Whether quality is captured (p10)
- the definitions and difficulties of capturing accurate data (p24)
- the limited reference to social enterprise (p25) or micro businesses (p25)
Research England are now discussing their approach including suggestions from the consultation such as:
- producing a “Research England” annual report on collective KEF
- need to reflect quality of interactions (p21) as income is not a proxy for impact (p21)
- longevity in metrics (p24)
and, of most interest for Enterprise Educators, the work within the area of Skills, employability, entrepreneurship and enterprise continues as the report recognises: “A quarter of respondees reflected that HEIs do a great deal to improve student enterprise, entrepreneurship, and employability through both curricular and extra-curricular activities and that these were not reflected in the metrics” (p25).
The suggestions that are being explored include:
- 6% sought turnover of graduate starts to add value (p24)
- the benefit and relevance of placements or internships (p25)
- the role and impact of HEIs as skills trainers for employers (industrial strategy) (p25)
- investment in innovation spaces, accelerator programmes or incubator programmes (p25)
- consideration of the use of learner instead of contact hours (p25)
- closer interaction with the KEF to capture student considerations (p25)
and are being tempered with a recognition of the difficulty of start-up definitions, collecting data (creatives) and determining the longevity of start-ups as well as appreciating time lag issues. EEUK supported recognition to avoid creating an approach which provides perverse incentives for institutions to push creation of starts, when students/graduates may not yet be ready.
EEUK also welcomed the proposed concordat (KEC) recognising that this could provide the infrastructure needed to help knowledge exchange activity develop and support collaboration across the sector.
Other consultations that EEUK responded to included:
- TEF to highlight the 7th recommendation within the recent APPG for Entrepreneurship report that questioned the inherent tensions within metrics, in particular whether TEF discouraged start-up
- VITAE to ask that enterprise and entrepreneurship form part of the 10 day research training to support early-career researchers
- APPG for Entrepreneurship report in which 40+ EEUK members are showcased within a call for co-ordinated agenda across government. EEUK welcome these recommendations .
In addition, visa changes dominated IEEC workshop discusssions whilst throughout the conference several important 2019 reports were highlighted providing key messages in critical areas such as:
- Supporting our Young People: Future Founders
- Female entrepreneurship: the Rose Review
- Business Schools: How can business schools support enterprise and entrepreneurship across the whole university student population?
- Micro business and freelancers: Graduates in self-employment and microbusinesses
So overall 2018/9 was a good year for helping Enterprise Educators review their approach and share their messages. There is a call within these documents to “up our game” so our work continues to ensure we are serving our students well but we are being supported by those who recognise the range and depth of our work.
We also recommend reading Tenpreneurs blog before digging into the “Future Founders” report (as it is packed with key stats for that next meeting)…. unless of course, your focus is on female-led businesses, Business Schools or the creative sector/freelancers and micro-businesses, then add those to your reading list!…and if you want to amplify your voice on any of these issues, share your perspective with EEUK by dropping a note to me.
Alison Price, Head of Policy, Enterprise Educators UK