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The Quality Assurance Agency for Higher Education (QAA) defines enterprise education as ‘the generation and application of ideas, which are set within practical situations during a project or undertaking. This is a generic concept that can be applied across all areas of education and professional life. It combines creativity, originality, initiative, idea generation, design thinking, adaptability and reflexivity with problem identification, problem solving, innovation, expression, communication and practical action’.

These are all underlying factors that can enhance employability prospects as well as be taken further through Entrepreneurship Education which is defined as the application of enterprise behaviours, attributes, and competencies into the creation of cultural, social, or economic value. This can, but does not exclusively, lead to venture creation.

Why is Enterprise Education important?

Government and Universities are increasingly talking about importance of ‘graduate attributes’ and ‘21st-century skills’ – qualities necessary for our students to navigate the fourth industrial revolution and contribute to a rapidly changing society.  Universities are needing to react and respond to these changing needs through an agile, future-focused curriculum to support our students to be entrepreneurial, innovative, adaptive, resilient, and flexible, to navigate the ever-evolving labour market. 

The sustainable development of our economy is reliant on the development and application of entrepreneurial competencies along with all forms of intrapreneurship (where an employee acts like an entrepreneur within an organisation).  New areas of entrepreneurship are also being embraced: for example, social entrepreneurship, green entrepreneurship, and digital entrepreneurship feature within the 2021 QAA Education for Sustainable Development Guidance for Educators to ensure that these are embedded into degree programmes.

Enterprise Education therefore has the potential to play an important part in helping our students to develop future-facing employability skills within the ProFF, and will be key to the delivery of UoB’s new employability strategy, which will provide opportunities for all UoB students to engage externally, and seeks to increase the embedding of employability and enterprise in the curriculum.

How to embed Enterprise Education

Pedagogically, there is a strong focus on experiential, problem/inquiry based learning, interdisciplinarity and reflection, so that students can ‘learn by doing’, which in turns results in the development of entrepreneurial skills, an increase in self-efficacy, and a greater awareness of their economic, social, cultural, environmental, and intellectual impact. 

Some modules I worked on were co-designed in full partnership with industry partners which provides a strong USP for the programme.  Examples of this is are the final year Liberal Arts modules (Learning Entrepreneurial Skills and Entrepreneurial Start Up) which were both co-designed with several industry partners including Entrepreneurial Spark; IBM; Midven; Google, and colleagues within our on campus accelerator, BizzInn.    

Alternatively, more discrete changes to modules have been made, such as including reflection on the skills gained in an experiential research module: for example, a reflective interview which was co-designed for a final year SportEx module, Civic Engagement Dissertation. We have embedded a range of live industry projects and design thinking methodology sessions to support students to think creatively when coming up with solutions to projects set by employer partners: an example of this can be seen on a Research Methods module for Linguistic students in EDACS, where The West Midlands Police requested some support with research and analysis into how they can make their recruitment communication more inclusive to support the recruitment of 1000 BAME officers needed for the West Midlands within the next three years.

Ways we can work together:

Step 1: EXPLORING (consultation) – reviewing programmes / ideation
Step 2: DESIGNING – co-creation with academic leads/industry / wider colleagues
Step 3: IMPLEMENTING – VLE/delivery/project management
Step 4: REVIEWING – feedback/data analysis/case studies
Step 5: FUTURE PROOFING – Micro Employability Courses / toolkit for academics, and Academic Enterprise and Entrepreneurship Group 

If you would like to discuss how to embed enterprise into your programme, get in touch. We have a menu of options you can look at, or together, we can co-design something brand new and bespoke for your programme.

Join the University of BirminghamAcademic Enterprise & Entrepreneurship Group where you can meet other colleagues working in this space to share ideas and explore opportunities to collaborate and engage in staff development

AdvanceHE: A focus framework aligned to the Employability Framework Enterprise and Entrepreneurship Education (2019)

QAA Enterprise and Entrepreneurship Education (January 2018)

QAA Education for Sustainable Development (2021)

Bacigalupo M et al (2016) EntreComp: The Entrepreneurship Competence Framework.

Lackéus, M et al (2020) The entrepreneurial employee in public and private sector – What, Why, How. 

Enterprise Educators UK

ETC Toolkit

The Institute of Enterprise and Entrepreneurs (IOEE)

Institute for Small Business and Entrepreneurship (ISBE)

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