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A new Framework for the future of Enterprise and Entrepreneurship Education

27 Mar 2024 | Stuart Norton Stuart Norton introduces the 2024 Advance HE Framework for Enterprise and Entrepreneurship Education – but first, a (very) light touch on its history...

The Framework for Enterprise and Entrepreneurship Education is a direct update to the 2019 Framework which was a sector initiative developed in partnership with Enterprise Educators UK (EEUK), the Institute of Enterprise and Entrepreneurs (IOEE), the Institute for Small Business and Entrepreneurship (ISBE), Small Firms Enterprise Development Initiative (SFEDI) and the Quality Assurance Agency for Higher Education (QAA). It was originally intended as a resource to help institutions provide the appropriate activities and experiences so that students can identify what is involved in being enterprising and entrepreneurial, helping them to navigate their future careers. 

The '3Es' 

The 2024 update acknowledges its roots, retaining much of the original Framework while introducing subtle yet significant changes. Notably, it now explicitly references the '3Es' - employability, enterprise, and entrepreneurship - a term coined in 2021 during the launch of the previous Framework's guide.  

Despite appearing contradictory to maintain separate frameworks while emphasising the 3Es, the concept of 'umbrella terms' in the discourse of 3E education is pertinent. It underscores the need for the sector to redefine success under these overarching terms without overly prescriptive definitions. Rather than imposing a singular model, the approach encourages adaptation and thoughtful consideration of contextual relevance. While definitions are adopted for clarity, the Framework remains flexible, acknowledging the complexity of language and the multifaceted nature of student success. As asserted in 2022, these elements, albeit intertwined, collectively contribute to the essence of student achievement. 

“There remains a need for the sector to redefine and align success via umbrella terms of employability, enterprise and entrepreneurship, not value laden or over focused definitions. By framing the issues, and not prescribing a single model of application, we can all learn to adapt and develop through thoughtful consideration of what suits our context and why.”

Norton and Penaluna 2022 

Thoughts from colleagues in the sector 

I now wish to share three thoughts on the Framework, given by colleagues as individuals, although I know many of you will recognise their names and own provenance in the field: 

The value of the updated Framework lies in how it makes the interconnections (or interdependencies) between the definitions of enterprise and entrepreneurship education, the student, educator and institution explicit. For example, if we reflect on the co-creation of the entrepreneurial education experience with managers and leaders from small businesses, the Framework assists in understanding the value of enterprising and entrepreneurial outcomes for the student (eg development of know-who as well as know-what and know-how and the value of being enterprising in different contexts).

“In addition, the Framework provides a tool for educators to reflect on the opportunities and challenges in co-creation (eg sense of identity and the importance of developing and maintaining relationships with others) and institutions to understand how to effectively engage small business owner-managers (eg the processes required to support effective engagement and recognition of value of their input in different ways). In so doing, the Framework has the potential to assist educators and institutions in ensuring that enterprise and entrepreneurship education brings forward value to different communities of practice in the near to mid-term”.

Leigh Sear, Chief Executive, SFEDI Solutions 

From an institutional perspective, deciding on what an enterprise and entrepreneurship offer looks like, especially from the perspective of managing expectations of educators, learners and others beyond the institution, can seem a daunting task. Entrepreneurial educators can come from any discipline or subject area and have the propensity to develop learning that enhances innovative thinking that is purposeful and of clear value to others. This, in turn, means understanding a range of alternative audiences, developing the ability to spot their problems and then, to propose solutions that have the potential to meet their needs. Inherently, this also draws on the notion of seeing beyond one’s own disciplinary silo.

“These imperatives place learning firmly in the domain of future oriented thinking, where discovering new problems leads to the generation of new solutions and change and adaptability are recognised and rewarded – at all levels. This is why a Framework such as this is so valuable, it will challenge at all levels, encourage thinking that supports those who innovate and lead new thought, and ultimately, meet the demands of students whose careers will depend on them being able to continuously learn, build and adapt.”

Emeritus Professor Andrew Penaluna  

The strength of this Framework is how it summarises so much of the key discussion and debate, bringing the underpinning policy and guidance into focus for each of the key stakeholders. It brings key ideas together into one place and provides ‘rings of focus’ for each key stakeholder to explore which help create a shared institutional understanding, whilst still highlighting actionable points of focus for each to address.

“Supporting the educator to deliver is the key to creating change, and this Framework highlights key areas upon which to focus and still recognises the importance of providing support around the educator to deliver for students.  Educators are invited to make sense of these skill development needs within their context and see how their role links to the wider institutional offer. The institution is challenged to review and improve its practice and the true focus of student skill development and support is targeted and clear. 

“Building these skills will support and empower our students, allowing them to ‘take a job, or make a job’, or move effectively between the career and life’s opportunities.”

Alison Price, Principal Consultant Enterprise Evolution 


To conclude, the Framework emerges as a cornerstone for fostering a cohesive understanding of enterprise and entrepreneurship education amongst all stakeholders. Critically it acknowledges the essential works of other agencies and partners and remains aligned to Entrecomp and the QAA standards.  

When first launched in 2019, it orchestrated a collaborative effort, aligning the interests and objectives of students, educators and institutions with the requirements of entrepreneurial education. Five years on, the structure has remained very similar, highlighting the flexible approach adopted and signifying the importance of the Framework both then and now. It encourages continuous reflection, adaptation and innovation within educational practices. This, in turn, empowers students to navigate and thrive in their careers, whether they choose to be job seekers or job creators. 


We live in a rapidly advancing world. We are witnessing the development of super AI at an exponential pace, and the need to focus on sustainability is critical. Just these two challenges alone mean students and graduates will face challenges and disruptors that we cannot predict. The Framework is designed to help anticipate such challenges, equipping learners with the skills and mindset needed to tackle these challenges head-on and providing a structure for educators to scaffold the necessary enterprising and entrepreneurship learning that is needed to enable success.  

Ultimately, it lays the groundwork for cultivating a generation of enterprising individuals, capable of leading change and driving value at a range of different levels; social, green, digital, economic and so forth, all of which are necessary in an ever-evolving global economy and environment. 

As part of our member benefit project AI for Student Success and Employability, on 8 May we're hosting an online forum exploring the key role that employers and PSRBs (Professional, Statutory and Regulatory Bodies) play in shaping the standards and expectations of higher education.

This event is free to attend for all colleagues at Advance HE member institutions. Book your place here. 


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.

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