Centralising enterprising skills development and emphasising course relevancy in universities through entrepreneurial personalities | Advance HE

    Within the higher education sector, course offering, purpose and competition, and the need to engage with enterprising and innovative industry, is at the forefront of the minds of senior management. Therefore, recognising key individuals who support a university’s operations is vital. Acknowledging the UK Professional Standards Framework (UKPSF) 2011, Dr Robert Crammond identifies eight entrepreneurial personalities which an enterprising university must possess when developing relevant skills and courses, and responding to the needs of students, staff and partners.

    The enterprising university 

    Every day, universities embrace and instigate creativity, invention, and innovation. As I have stressed in previous writing and research, the concept of entrepreneurialism within universities is now relatively settled in both theory and practice. The development and applicability of new forms of enterprise-centric education and activity, has resulted in a slow but steady removal of ‘capitalistic connotations’ of enterprise and entrepreneurship. Moving away from chiefly focussing on organisational, commercial, and strategic management aspects; today we see enterprise and entrepreneurship appearing in HE programmes and projects in relation to culture, social mobility, and digitisation to name a few. This results in a number of important and influential individuals who I detail in this blog. 

    I regard that both enterprise (skills-based) and entrepreneurship (venture-based) is now evidenced through institutional, educational, and societal aspects of the institution and sector as a whole. Institutionally, universities provide meaningful structures and execute purposive strategies which promote entrepreneurialism through recruitment and external engagement. From an educational perspective, the modern university brings together a mix of theoretical programmes and practical activities, related to enterprise and entrepreneurship. This includes courses at all levels, research groups which informs teaching, and a supportive network where students and staff can create and develop businesses or solutions whilst attaining new knowledge and entrepreneurial attributes. Socially, universities are engaged with regional, national, and international partners more than ever, as they align with and respond to global initiatives and sector expectations. When we consider the work of Advance HE, and measuring effectiveness in education, enterprising activity and behaviours are a proactive gateway towards achieving impact and preferred teaching and learning outcomes. 

    People: the most important resource 

    The relationship between entrepreneurialism and universities is significant as it appreciates the value of encouraging enterprising behaviours in developing students into productive and enterprising graduates. Secondly, the relationship advances industry through renewed means and innovative capabilities. Thirdly, it is focussed to meeting the needs of society.  

    However, the relationship is reliant first and foremost on people who have the requisite skills, knowledge, and experience. With any sector or job, the human resource is fundamental. This is acknowledged when academics consider their own professional development, and through schemes such as fellowship programmes or teaching and learning certification where recording and reflecting on the skills-building of individuals and groups are central. 

    Entrepreneurial personalities 

    So in bringing together this notion of entrepreneurialism as a beneficial element for universities, below I list eight key entrepreneurial personalities which contribute towards skills development and enhances the purpose and relevancy of university courses: 

    Eco-system Enabler 

    Wider, Situational or Undiscovered 

    These personalities also take into consideration elements of the PSF, as labelled. 

    The Philosopher 

    The philosopher is the academic or researcher who is conceptually advancing entrepreneurial theory and who is disseminating this key knowledge through publication or event. New ways of understanding, of the marketplace but also of the new skills and practices which students should adopt are highlighted and appreciated through various means. These include discussion-led events and debates, roundtable scenarios, and topical forums. With this in mind, important learning is designed and plan with educators (A1), which adopts evidence-informed approaches from research investigations (V3). 

    The Educator 

    The educator delivers relatable and applicable knowledge within the classroom (A2). Within an entrepreneurial context, there are numerous ways in which this can be facilitated. For example, typical didactic methods such as lectures and seminars, or group-based sessions. Alternatively, small groups working on enterprising projects which are towards credit-bearing courses or competitions which involve external partners and are assessed by experts. 

    The Policy Maker 

    The policy maker is the influencer at local and national government levels. They may be political or apolitical, however their influence is through productive communication and engagement with and within the university domain, and how enterprise within local communities can impact learning (K6) and what is considered to be valuable knowledge. 

    The Implementer 

    The implementer incorporates innovative and contemporary entrepreneurship (education) ideologies into practice, by coordinating and leading business school or faculty-wide projects (K2). This may be in a director or senior management role. 

    The Interdisciplinary  

    The interdisciplinary engages with the external environment and identifies opportunities. This can be relayed back to the classroom via case studies, thematic or scenario role playing, external engagement through competitions centralising the entrepreneurial process, and guest speakers. Here, there is an appreciation of situations, challenges, and contexts. Secondly, it puts a firm emphasis on inclusivity, participation, and networking (V2). 

    The Champion 

    The champion encourages enterprising activity across the university and regularly engages with public services, local and national government officials, and private industries. They highlight the benefits of an enterprising mindset and encourages people to get involved in enterprising developments and the entrepreneurial process, whether it be students or staff (A5). This can range from idea generation for programme-level or community-based projects, new venture creation as a commercial entity, and the ongoing innovation and marketisation stages. 

    The Eco-system Enabler 

    This is the influencing individual who surpasses all areas of activity and looks at embedding enterprise through continued engagement with research, cross-faculty teaching, internationalisation, and knowledge transfer and consultancy projects 

    The Wider, Situational or Undiscovered 

    This concerns individuals or groups who are yet to be identified or clearly defined. As enterprising programmes or activities develop and mature from within their institutions, there is an opportunity to engage with further public, private, and third sector parties (V4). 

    Institutional impact 

    An inclusive institution is an insightful and impactful institution. Understanding the infrastructural support and regulation, the need to assert good practice and principles, and reaching corporate/social responsibility and ethical business goals all rely on the knowledge and expertise of people. The personalities highlighted above showcase the types of recruited and developed individuals who shape an entrepreneurial university today, and should be considered when building and maintaining creative and innovative institutions. 

    With these in mind, which of these personalities can be evidenced within your university already? Is there a workable and successful sense and practice of an enterprising community within the institution, bringing together these types of personalities and relevant roles and responsibilities? 

    Dr Robert James Crammond is a Senior Lecturer in Enterprise at the University of the West of Scotland. A Senior Fellow of Advance HE, Crammond is an enterprise educator, researcher, and leads research, supervision, and consultancy projects. 

    This content was originally published here.

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