There has been a significant growth in enterprise and entrepreneurship education within the higher education (HE) sector in the UK over the last 20 years, which has been driven from a number of sources. For one, the UK national government and European Commission have invested in entrepreneurship education as a way of fostering entrepreneurial activity which will generate economic value.
Students have also identified enterprise and entrepreneurship education as a way of supporting the journey into self-employment, as well as developing commercial awareness and other ‘soft skills’ required by employers (The British Academy, 2017).
Finally, a number of business surveys have highlighted that small businesses are facing a management and leadership shortage, and larger businesses have a need for employees who are orientated to the development of new business initiatives and ventures as a way of supporting business improvement and competitiveness.
Within higher education institutions (HEIs), this growth in enterprise and entrepreneurship education can be seen in: (i) the diversity of programmes and modules within the curriculum; (ii) the range of extra-curricular activity offered to support students in developing ideas, engaging with external stakeholders and starting a business; and (iii) the rise of regional and national competitions which provide an opportunity for students from different institutions to exchange experiences and learn from each other.
While the growth in enterprise and entrepreneurship education has led to increasing diversity in provision, there remains a number of challenges to embedding enterprise and entrepreneurship in education in disciplines beyond the domain of business and management.
These challenges relate not only to the language of enterprise and entrepreneurship but also perceptions of staff and students as to its perceived value, extent and nature of relationships with external stakeholders. Despite these challenges, what we do know is that enterprise and entrepreneurship education can add to the experiences of students.
A growing evidence base highlights the value of developing enterprising and entrepreneurial skills in learners; both in terms of facilitating the creation of new ventures while in education and upon graduation, but also by enhancing their skills, values, attributes and behaviours relevant to all manner of employment opportunities. To explore this topic, the Embedding Enterprise in the Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences was developed in collaboration with Advance HE, SFEDI, the UK Government recognised Sector Skills Organisation for enterprise and business support, and higher education providers across the sector. Designed to promote collaboration the project was grounded in sharing practice, developing innovative approaches and assessing the impact of change. Institutions involved in the collaborative project benefited from focused support on key issues, a safe space to share challenges and build networks of support, and implementing meaningful change.
In Adding value through enterprise and entrepreneurship education in higher education we are delighted to share four case studies from the project. These will enable you to learn and engage with colleagues’ experiences and developments from the Embedding Enterprise in the Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences, as we work to enhance student success.
The series brings some of the more emerging and conceptual work being undertaken across HEIs to embed enterprise and entrepreneurship learning, reflecting on different aspects of embedding enterprise and entrepreneurship in the arts, humanities and social sciences. In particular, they explore:
- how to develop sustainable relationships with businesses in the local community which can be used to shape activity in the curriculum
- how to create a ‘live’ exchange of good practice amongst staff in embedding enterprise and entrepreneurship in the curriculum
- how to develop a values-driven, competency-based framework for embedding enterprise in the curriculum
- how to link enterprise education within the curriculum with supporting local community organisations struggling with the realities of enterprising behaviour and actions.
This is the first case study collection to be produced from the enterprise and entrepreneurship collaborative projects and will be the start of a series from which we will explore how to embed enterprise and entrepreneurship education within a range of different academic disciplines. In so doing, the case studies will hopefully support experience exchange amongst educators wishing to add value through enterprise and entrepreneurship education.
Advance HE members can download Adding value through enterprise and entrepreneurship education in higher education here
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