What more can Scottish Universities do to create entrepreneurial campuses?

Published: 11 April 2014

Scottish Universities are coming under increasing pressure to evolve from two very distinct directions.

Scottish universities are coming under increasing pressure to evolve from two very distinct directions, according to a report commissioned by Quality Assurance Agency for Higher Education Scotland (QAA) and authored by Professor Colin Mason of the University of Glasgow.

On the one hand, students and future employers expect these institutions of learning to take employability into consideration when developing both curricular and extra-curricular activity. On the other, government at local and national levels regard universities as important drivers in local economic development by feeding the pipeline of innovative new start up businesses.

Last year, the Scottish Government highlighted the importance of the education system in helping to develop Scotland as a world leader in innovation and entrepreneurship¹.

If universities are to meet these demands, the very core of each establishment will need to embrace enterprise and entrepreneurship in ways not seen before, says the report’s author Professor Colin Mason, Professor of Entrepreneurship at the Adam Smith Business School.

Creating Entrepreneurial Campuses² builds directly on the Enterprise and Entrepreneurship guidance publication produced by QAA in 2012.

It makes the case for campuses which stimulate the entrepreneurial aspirations of students and provides them with the opportunity to develop relevant skills, knowledge and experience. In some cases that also means offering relevant support and resources to enable them to start their own business.

The notion that entrepreneurship can be taught is now widely accepted, but what is taught, how it is taught, who is taught and who teaches is less clear, according to the author.

Professor Mason’s report explores in some depth how both curricular and extra-curricular programmes will be required to give students a more experiential style of learning. Focusing entrepreneurship teaching in a business school is unlikely to create the kind of campus envisioned by the QAA guidelines; rather entrepreneurship education needs to be embedded in each academic department, faculty or school.

“An entrepreneurial campus will not only teach entrepreneurship across the campus but will also create an environment in which students are inspired and empowered to develop enterprising capabilities, skills and know-how,” says Professor Mason.

“Whatever their subject, students will take part in entrepreneurship clubs, boot camps, business plan competitions, entrepreneurs-in-residence and start-up support, such as incubator space, funding, mentoring.”

Professor Allan Gibb OBE, Professor Emeritus University of Durham draws from his many years in enterprise education training and policy development in providing the foreword to the report.

He said: “I’m encouraged by the way Professor Mason sets out the main drivers for change at the beginning of his paper. Universities are well placed to use knowledge imaginatively. This means engaging the whole organisation and campus in the entrepreneurial learning process. If we fail to grasp this, students may well leave formal education unable to cope with uncertainty and complexity, and opportunities for economic growth through new enterprise are forfeit.”

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Further information



Professor Mason is available for interview. Contact Louise Third, Integra Communications 07773 288342.

For QAA Scotland: Linzi Crawford, Stakeholder Engagement Co-ordinator, l.crawford@qaa.ac.uk or 0141 572 3429.  

To find out more about the Enhancement work QAA Scotland is doing in collaboration with the Scottish higher education sector please visit www.enhancementthemes.ac.uk

QAA's mission is to safeguard standards and improve the quality of UK higher education. We check how UK universities and colleges maintain their academic standards and quality. We review and report on how they meet their responsibilities, identify good practice and make recommendations for improvement. We publish guidelines to help UK universities and colleges develop effective systems to ensure students have the best learning experience. Further information is available at www.qaa.ac.uk

First published: 11 April 2014

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