Should all students be taking courses in entrepreneurship and where will that take us by 2026?

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See link below for a suggestion to governmthat all students should take credit-bearing courses in entrpreneurship. If they did, how might that change university education in the future?

See link below for a suggestion to governmthat all students should take credit-bearing courses in entrpreneurship. If they did, how might that change university education in the future?


5 thoughts on “Should all students be taking courses in entrepreneurship and where will that take us by 2026?”

  1. Certainly all students should be given the choice to take credit bearing entrepreneurship courses and it should not be limited to STEM and Business students. However, I feel it is enterprise that needs to be embedded into all subjects. Enterprise is a precursor to entrepreneurship that cannot be omitted.

    These definitions are helpful:

    The QAA (2012, 8) defines enterprise ‘as the process of equipping students (or graduates) with the mind-set and skills to come up with original ideas in response to identified needs and shortfalls…making it happen.”

    The QAA (2012, 8) outlines that entrepreneurship education focuses on the ‘development and application of an enterprising mind-set and skills in the specific contexts of setting up a new venture, developing and growing an existing business or designing an entrepreneurial organisation.’

    Enterprise and entrepreneurship (EE) relate to the development of the self, though are focused on different stages of the students’ development. They both can be embedded in the curriculum, with the competencies learned through the right pedagogy (i.e. with the focus on not what you are taught, but how: through innovative teaching methods, non-standard assessment and curriculum design), creating the conditions for self-negotiated action. They can also be specific courses.

    How we see EE now and in the future relate to what we, as an Institution want our students to achieve. Do we want our students to be enterprising or innovative or both? I like Gibb’s summary (2002, 259): that an enterprising person demonstrates behaviours such as ‘creativity, initiative taking, energising events, leading others, thinking of new ways of doing things’; whereas an entrepreneurial person, though similar, implies ‘notions of making money and carrying out business activity.’

    Therefore, as a pathway for learning, entrepreneurship specific credit bearing modules would provide an opportunity for all students interested in entrepreneurship, to take their ideas forward and develop additional competencies.

    Being entrepreneurial is also essential for innovation. You can’t pursue an idea if you have no notion of how it’s going to be funded; who is going to pay for it/want it and what is the revenue model to generate cash to become sustainable? Students need to understand and practice how to commercialise an idea and add value to others. If we want our students to ‘make important things happen’, they need to understand and practice innovation.

    Do we want to create conditions to encourage students to start businesses or look further to also develop capabilities for building high growth/innovative organisations? For our STEM students, I suspect the latter. Combined with the need for a more prosperous economy, we should therefore be creating compulsory entrepreneurship credit bearing modules before 2026, collaborating with small businesses and SMEs.

    University education is already changing in response to the economic landscape and a radically different curriculum is not necessary. We have a growing number of strong examples where enterprise and entrepreneurship are being embedded in the curriculum. However, we perhaps need to define more clearly our direction for EE in preparation for the future. Pursuing a more holistic approach to teaching and learning could also factor in the development of professional behaviours, ethics, civic responsibility and cultural awareness.

    1. Some good points, however, making any course in entrepreneurship compulsory as suggested does not seem the best approach. Make them available, should students want to take advantage of what is offered, but forcing students to engage in something that implies ‘notions of making money and carrying out business activity’ may not appeal to everyone’s tastes. Commercialisation and revenue generation do not have to be the end goals for all activity.

  2. If as an emeritus member of the university I may make a comment, I applaud notion of awakening, nurturing and embellishing entrepreneurial talents of undergraduates. Entrepreneurship is vital to the future wellbeing of the UK and the Department of Mechanical Engineering pioneered a course option in entrepreneurial engineering, in 1980, of which I was director. The option was within the, largely forgotten I believe, Dainton course, set up by government and awarded to the department with the aim of promoting business awareness in manufacture. It was a four year course, supported by Birmingham’s Department of Business Studies and led for the first time to master degree for undergraduates; the MEng&Man, indicated Engineering, Manufacture and Management. The course option attracted bright people (the A-level entrance requirements were virtually those of Oxbridge) with wide ranging interests and attitudes that provided fertile ground for entrepreneurship to flourish. This was assumed to derive from a perceived need and a rewarding outcome for its solution. Another feature of the option was the promotion of small companies as suitable vehicles for well qualified graduates, in contrast to the conventional concept of multi-national companies being considered the only organisations worthy of their attention. The option included a large number of small duration, wide-ranging, real-world, problem solving projects, including, industrial, medical, social aspects, most of them from external sources. Business plans and presentations to influential persons also figured largely, as did a module in Industrial Design given by Birmingham City University. As you may gather, a wide range of technical knowledge, experience of society and self motivation were considered necessary to promote the growth of entrepreneurial talent and course contact hours were far longer than standard. One of the attractions of the course was the large amount of effort needed to complete it successfully, which led to added kudos in the minds of the graduates, but the move to uniformity across the university, of student contact hours for all courses, and ending of government funding, led to the end of the MEng&Man course. Several graduates did set up successful businesses, although I have now lost touch with them and all easily obtained high placed positions in prestigious companies; many entering financial institutions in the City. The University of Cambridge welcomed ‘entrepreneurial’ students on its postgraduate Advance Course in Design, Manufacture and Management, and accepted them without question.
    Probably this comment will be of no help to you, as the workplace situation has changed markedly since time I have referred to, but at least I have waved a small flag for Birmingham as an educational innovator.

  3. Post BREXIT Britain needs to be more competitive and entrepreneurial to survive and grow economically. The ability to identify ideas that would be attractive to ‘consumers’ and to then turn these into the products and services they will pay for are essential. This is where engineering students are well placed to develop these skills. Much of their work is about understanding problems and working out solutions to them. There has been much development in entrepreneurship educational tools which engineers could benefit from. We are considering these for our students in the School of Engineering as we develop our characterization of what attributes a Birmingham engineering graduate has upon leaving the University.

  4. The NHS has recognised that a number of doctors, and no doubt other staff, who are entrepreneurial and come up with a great idea for moving medicine forward end up leaving the NHS in order to develop their idea and market it (and make a fortune!). Rather than lose these creative innovative people which the NHS really needs to change how it works, the Department of Health has created a Clinical Entrepreneurship Programme. The idea of this is that young doctors who have had a good idea can be supported in developing it while continuing with their training in the NHS. The support is from a variety of partners – industrial, marketing, IT etc. So, although one might think that training doctors wouldn’t include entrepreneurship I think it should!

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