Skip to main content

Embedding enterprise and entrepreneurship in higher education – new case study collection

30 Mar 2023 | Stuart Norton and Leigh Sear We’ve published our second case study collection on enterprise and entrepreneurship in higher education. The editors, Stuart Norton and Leigh Sear, introduce the new collection.

As we highlighted in our first case study collection in 2022, Adding value through enterprise and entrepreneurship education in higher education, there has been a significant growth in enterprise and entrepreneurship education within the UK higher education (HE) sector in over the last 20 years.  

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). A number of business surveys also 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:  

  1. the diversity of programmes and modules within the curriculum  

  1. the range of extra-curricular activity offered to support students in developing ideas, engaging with external stakeholders and starting a business  

  1. the rise of regional and national competitions which provide an opportunity for students from different institutions to exchange experiences and learn from each other.  

Embedding enterprise and entrepreneurship 

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.  

Collaborative project 

To explore this topic, the Embedding Enterprise and Entrepreneurship Education collaborative project was developed as a true collaboration with Advance HE, SFEDI, the UK Government recognised Sector Skills Organisation for enterprise and business support, and the participating 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.  

Second case study collection 

Embedding enterprise and entrepreneurship in higher education: an Advance HE case study collection features some of the more emerging and conceptual work being undertaken across HEIs to embed enterprise and entrepreneurship learning. In particular, this collection explores five case studies that cover a diverse range of topics: 

  • a work-based learning challenge to engage regional organisations 

  • building effective cross-discipline teams to enhance enterprise ideas 

  • an extra-curricular work-based learning approach through an enterprise and innovation lab 

  • identifying employability and enterprise opportunities within a programme of study 

  • digital skills accelerator (in a post-Covid context).  

Enhancing student success 

This is the second case study collection to be produced from the enterprise and entrepreneurship collaborative projects and concludes the current series through which we have explored how to embed enterprise and entrepreneurship education within a range of different academic disciplines.  

In so doing, it is hoped that the case studies will support experience exchange amongst educators wishing to add value through enterprise and entrepreneurship education. Key themes and common challenges may become apparent, what is clear is that while it’s a complex area, it is important, and we welcome sharing this range of practice and helping connect colleagues across the sector to ultimately enhance student success.  

Advance HE members can download Embedding enterprise and entrepreneurship in higher education: an Advance HE case study collection here

Advance HE collaborative projects 

Since 2016, more than 70 institutions have participated in our collaborative projects. The projects have focused on key issues in higher education including student retention, closing degree attainment gaps, assessment practice in medical schools, and teaching in business schools. Find out more about our current collaborative projects.  

We feel it is important for voices to be heard to stimulate debate and share good practice. Blogs on our website are the views of the author and don’t necessarily represent those of Advance HE.

Keep up to date - Sign up to Advance HE communications

Our monthly newsletter contains the latest news from Advance HE, updates from around the sector, links to articles sharing knowledge and best practice and information on our services and upcoming events. Don't miss out, sign up to our newsletter now.

Sign up to our enewsletter