This is no corporate model

December 10, 2009

Some of the views expressed by commentators in your article on the University of Oxford/National Council for Graduate Entrepreneurship's Entrepreneurial University Leadership Programme constitute a considerable misinterpretation of its concept and practice ("Managers get down to business", 26 November).

Sir David Watson rightly and understandably expresses fears that the "entrepreneurial concept" underpinning the programme will not be generous enough to be "sympathetic to the irreducible public purposes of higher education".

However, the programme is specifically designed to meet this concern. It employs a definition of entrepreneurship far removed from the narrow business/commercial focus of many conventional models.

Lewis Elton interprets the programme as being about something that in fact it explicitly rejects - that universities are there "to make money" and "ought to be more like businesses". Of course, higher education will have to look beyond the public purse in the future, but in ways that safeguard its essential autonomy.

The focus of the programme is on entrepreneurial-organisational design and individual empowerment to innovate at all levels of the university, using the best international concepts and practice; it is very far from employing a corporate or conventionally managerial business model.

Allan Gibb, Durham University

Pegram Harrison, University of Oxford

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