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© Lee Harvey 2018, 2019, page updated 23 January, 2019

A novel of twists and surprises

Developing the Higher Education Curriculum for Entrepreneurship

Frequently Asked Questions

1. What is entrepreneurship?

Traditionally, an entrepreneur is someone who is willing to take risks in order to reach a goal that is important to that person. In effect, the term entrepreneur has tended to be reserved for someone who starts up and runs their own business company.

2. As a teacher in higher education, why should I be bothered about entrepreneurship?

There are two main reasons why higher education staff in all subject areas should be bothered with entrepreneurship. First, small businesses form the backbone of the economy, particularly in numbers, with over 90% of companies being small (less than 250 employees) or micro-businesses (employing less than 10 people). Many micro-businesses, particularly in some sectors of the economy such as the design sector, consist predominantly of one or two person businesses.

Second, there is evidence that there are many students in higher education who would like to consider self-employment as an option. This is for a number of reasons, such as the desire for independence and a desire to be their own boss, or to exploit a niche in the market.

3. How does entrepreneurship differ from intrapreneurship?

The term entrepreneur tends now to be reserved for people who set up their own business. The processes and experiences of taking risks within existing companies, often by employees, is given the term intrapreneur.

An intrapreneur is, thus, someone who takes risks and leads or makes a major contribution to innovations for quality or process improvement within existing companies. A key difference between an intrapreneur and an entrepreneur is that the intrapreneur often does not own the company concerned but instead works for the company as an employee.

4. Isn't preparing students for entrepreneurship a responsibility of the higher education Careers Service?

Of course it is, but the Careers Service does not have all the responsibility. Subject teaching staff too have responsibilities. One such responsibility, for instance, is for subject staff to ensure that the students within their care have the opportunity to consider typical careers of graduates in their subject(s), which in all probability will include self-employment. Other subject responsibilities might include the provision of opportunities for work placement and experience as part of a course or as a volunteering option.

5. Why should I be concerned with entrepreneurship, when all I want to do is to teach my subject?

Our response to that concern is two-fold. First, it is for the subject staff team as a whole to decide how to address entrepreneurship and intrapreneurship within their subject and the awards to which the subject contributes. That does not mean, necessarily, that each and every member of a subject staff should teach entrepreneurship, only that the subject staff need to decide and agree where entrepreneurship is addressed in the curriculum, by whom and in what ways. Some subjects may lend themselves more easily to discussions and analyses of entrepreneurship within their subject area, though there is evidence from degree courses already in existence that virtually any subject is able to incorporate entrepreneurship within their curriculum.

Second, as students are increasingly bearing some, if not all, of the costs of their higher education, they are becoming more and more concerned about their employment prospects at the end of their studies. As more students seek value for money, the credibility of course and subject staff can be enhanced by ensuring that students have the opportunity to consider self-employment and entrepreneurship as part of their career planning and future gazing. However, higher education subject staff are not responsible for the labour market or the job opportunities available to students.

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