Unlocking the UKs talent by leading through entrepreneurial example

Published: 22 May 2008 at 14:49

UK leads the way by offering business students privileged access to leading entrepreneurs.

Anglia Ruskin University is collaborating with business winners to provide a new BA (Hons) Enterprise and Entrepreneurial Management course which will develop the knowledge that undergraduates require to radically improve their ability to ‘fast-track’ themselves into the highly competitive business environment.

There are a number of undergraduate programmes with the word ‘enterprise’ in their title currently offered by British Universities but the content of the new BA (Hons) Enterprise and Entrepreneurial Management course is, however, highly innovative and mould breaking with leading entrepreneurs and entrepreneurial business embedded in the fabric of the scheme.

It fits the exact theme outlined by the HM Treasury report ‘Enterprise: Unlocking the UK’s Talent’ published in March 2008.

An ‘Entrepreneur in Residence’ scheme will be developed for the course which will be managed by Walter Herriot, Managing Director of St. John’s Innovation Centre. He will become Director of the Entrepreneur in Residence network. This network will be explicitly involved at all stages in the delivery and management of the proposed pathway. In support of the new degree he said: ‘This is a highly innovative programme which is already generating considerable interest. There is a real need for inspiring and creative degree students in the market place not just in the UK but throughout Europe.’

The course will provide students with conceptual and theoretical insights into enterprise, innovation and entrepreneurial management, as well as developing the practical abilities and skills students need to apply this understanding within a range of different business, community and organisational contexts.

Teaching will be undertaken in blocks, often away from the University within enterprises, theatres and other locations. The student will spend the second semester of the first year inside an enterprise within a module titled ‘Learning in Residence’, not on a traditional student placement where low level tasks are often undertaken, but to provide exposure to the trading realities facing the entrepreneurial enterpriser and to offer opportunities for personal skills development through such mechanisms as mentoring and shadowing.

Professor of International Enterprise Strategy, Lester Lloyd-Reason, Director of the Centre for International Business at Anglia Ruskin University commented:

“The programme will sell employability. Traditional degree programmes tend to concentrate on developing functional knowledge and skills. The new degree programme will focus on developing enterprising abilities to get the job they want rather then the job they need. It will provide the skills necessary to work within a fast changing environment, whether this means starting up their own business or working as a highly innovative, creative thinker within an organisation.”

“The programme will produce graduates who can and will move things on and are happy to take responsibility, can work independently or in teams and will have high self-esteem, self-confidence, self-efficacy and are highly motivated.”

Within a wider context, the proposed pathway address a number of policy and practice agendas at a regional, national and international level, not least the emphasis of Governments to embed enterprise in education institutions and prepare students for a highly dynamic and uncertain labour market (Davies Review, 2002; Leitch Review, 2006). 

Despite the emphasis on working with enterprises from within the region, the programme will be international in scope. The OECD report on ‘Globalisation and SMEs’ (1997) clearly demonstrates that all firms irrespective of size are impacted by the growth in the globalisation of markets regardless of whether they trade international or not.  Accordingly the programme will have a clear international orientation reinforced both through course content and the international focus of the entrepreneurs and business leaders involved in the development, management and delivery of the scheme.

Acknowledging the need for such a course, Hugh Parnell, Director of the NW Brown Group, a financial services company serving the East of England, and Director of the Cambridge Network said:

“Many existing ‘MBA’ courses are academically excellent but may not be as geared to sharing front-line real-world business experience. Anglia Ruskin University are expressly incorporating this experience into this BA course. The UK is reputedly ‘short’ of management and specifically business development skills so anything which seeks to expand the reservoir of competent, practical commercially-focussed young graduates, exposed to senior businessfolk as well as to textbook learning, hearing how others have succeeded and failed as part of their studies, should be very welcome.”

Dr Geoffrey Butlin, CEO of TranscenData Europe added:

“This new degree is truly innovative. So much of academic business training concentrates on business lifetime skills that are probably better acquired as needed. Today's global business situations change so fast that flexibility and indeed survivability are critical, and this is better absorbed through immersion rather than formal classroom instruction.”