How does UK higher education providers integrate entrepreneurial teaching methods into curricula today

On the 26th of January at the Estonian Business School there was a seminar “5 Years of Quality Assured Entrepreneurial Education: Practice into Policy in the United Kingdom” led by the world’s first Professor of Creative Entrepreneurship Andy Penaluna and his wife Kathryn, both work at University of Wales Trinity Saint David. We learned that he UK’s entrepreneurial educators, government, policy makers and employers recognised a gap between the need for entrepreneurial behaviour and the current approaches curricula development and outcomes. So, in 2010, Andy started mapping the parts of subjects that were related to entrepreneurship or entrepreneurial activity in all of the existing UK quality assurance documents, and formed the outcome into a guidance book that was called for at the International Entrepreneurship Educators Conference (IEEC). This Enterprise and Entrepreneurship education guidance for higher education providers (hereafter Guidance) was accepted following a year of reviews, and was published by the Quality Assurance Agency (QAA) that safeguards standards and improves the quality of UK higher education.

What does the Guidance stand for? 

This Enterprise and Entrepreneurship Education guidance for UK higher education providers aims to help academics, educators and practitioners who are seeking to embed enterprise and entrepreneurship across the curriculum and beyond. Entrepreneurship Education and the development of entrepreneurial capacity is not simply linked to employment. It provides competencies to lead a rewarding, self-determined professional life. Students will be well placed to add significant social, cultural and economic value to society through entrepreneurial activity throughout their careers (www.qaa.ac.uk/en/Publications/Documents/Enterprise-and-entrpreneurship-education-2018.pdf).

What is the situation today in UK?

Andy: “Today the Guidance has been integrated into over 100 Universities in the UK. Established research Universities like Oxford and Cambridge are very open for adapting the new framework, and helped us to develop it. In the UK we have a University body called Enterprise Educators UK (http://www.enterprise.ac.uk), and this 100+ institution shares good practices, but there is still a lot of work to be done. In 2018 there is a 5% of decrease in students applying to Universities in the UK, and the trend of going straight to work after high school is growing following public comments that Universities no longer respond to student’s needs. It is crucial that Universities find their gaps between curricula and employment needs, and respond using guidance like QAA. A Mandarin version of the Guidance is already being integrated into Universities in China, and international interest is high.

In a bigger picture what is the University’s role in society for increasing entrepreneurial activity? 

Andy: “It is up to each university to decide. I think some of them should be based on research and some should focus on teaching, but we need both. There is also other question as to whether or not a University provides knowledge to the world and focuses on that, or that it brings input to the local community. If talent goes away it is not good for local businesses. These discussions and dialogs are starting, but I do not know the answer just yet.”

How UK’s Universities are engaging researchers to act in entrepreneurial way? What kind of support is there provided?

Andy “We are providing schooling for professors and curricula developers and using external funds and support (like Your programme Edu ja Tegu) for doing that. More research and more PhDs in the topic are evolving. Not all Universities have enjoyed consistent funding and support, and it can be short term and people have to leave, taking their insights with them. It is far from ideal, but bodies like Enterprise Educators UK offer support and insight that is invaluable, and conferences such as the Institute for Small Business and Entrepreneurship enable researchers to disseminate and discuss the very latest thinking (http://www.isbe.org).”

Any suggestions to Estonian Universities how to adapt teaching methods with entrepreneurial outcomes into curricula?

Andy:” Use the checklist in the Guidance book, and try to use disrupted learning methods and help professors who are unfamiliar with the shifts this brings. Get them to experience creativity inside innovation, so that students who give us great surprises can be graded, not just those who repeat what they have been told. The way things are changing can be very uncomfortable for more traditional teachers, and understanding that entrepreneurial learning process is not as linear as they have previously experienced might surprise them, so this is a key to getting this right.

The seminar was organised by entrepreneurship programme Edu ja Tegu and financed by European Union Social Fund.

Kelli Turmann
Entrepreneurship consultant
Estonian Academy of Arts

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