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© Lee Harvey 2018, 2019, page updated 23 January, 2019
Developing the Higher Education Curriculum for Entrepreneurship
Frequently Asked Questions
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
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.
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.
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.
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.