Venture to inspire our future leaders

September 22, 2006

A course on entrepreneurial skills could help ambitious academics climb the career ladder, says Tony Tysome

Academics who join a new training programme designed to make them think like entrepreneurs could be the vice-chancellors of the future, the creators of the course suggest.

The 18-month programme, which will start in the new year, aims to equip staff with the skills needed in universities to develop the teaching of entrepreneurship across all disciplines.

Paul Hannon, director of research and education at the National Council for Graduate Entrepreneurship that is leading the initiative, said that academics who signed up for the course were also likely to develop the kind of enterprising outlook needed to climb to the top of the career ladder in higher education.

Academics entered on the international entrepreneurship educators' programme will be taught by experts from across Europe and the US and experience enterprise education in action in a wide range of institutional settings.

Professor Hannon explained: "We are trying to meet a need for the next group of leaders in entrepreneurship education to meet government targets for developing a competitive economy. At the moment, it is not clear where these people are coming from.

"We also hope that staff on the programme will come away feeling more confident to act in more entrepreneurial ways in an education environment.

We need to train them to be able to thrive in those circumstances."

Participants will be encouraged to develop an "entrepreneurial mindset" to make them more prepared to take risks and to adopt innovative approaches to teaching. This would put them in a good position to make big advances at work, Professor Hannon said.

"I see people who have that mindset being very successful in their careers. There are quite a few who are now faculty deans, directors of centres or pro vice-chancellors. We would expect these people to have better career prospects and to be better at seeing and exploiting opportunities," he said.

Val Butcher, senior adviser for enterprise at the Higher Education Academy, said the programme was also important because it would help academics to teach their disciplines in more creative ways. She said: "The HEA's subject centre staff who are engaged in entrepreneurship projects feel that their own thinking and work have been enhanced and become more imaginative as a result."

The programme is supported by the UK Science Enterprise Centres, the Higher Education Academy and the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation. It will initially take only 30 staff.

tony.tysome@thes.co.uk

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