Entrepreneurial and innovative higher education institutions offer business start-up education and training that is tailored to the different interests and needs of students from across all faculties. The primary purpose of business start-up education is to:
- Develop entrepreneurial drive among students (raising awareness and motivation);
- Train students in the skills they need to set up a business and manage its growth; and,
- Develop the entrepreneurial ability to identify and exploit opportunities.
Entrepreneurial and innovative HEIs offer a range of courses covering:
- Opportunity recognition;
- Change management;
- Business finance;
- Human resources; and
These offerings should meet the needs of undergraduate, graduate and post-graduate students. Doctoral programmes (especially for science, engineering and technology) should also contain a module on entrepreneurship.
Business start-up education needs to be available to all interested students, regardless of their area of study. Currently, business start-up courses are typically offered in business and economic studies however it should to be open to all students because many innovative and viable business ideas are likely to arise from technical, scientific and creative studies. Another challenge is for HEIs to build interdisciplinary activities that support team-work and allow for the development and exploitation of business ideas. Importantly, institution wide entrepreneurship education needs to secure buy-in from faculties that do not view entrepreneurship as relevant to their field.
Business start-up education does not fit neatly into conventional models of education that are assessed by means of examination. The teaching of entrepreneurship requires a practical approach where information and knowledge is generated among participants and a more action orientated teaching method would assist participants in understanding the overall concepts of entrepreneurship. It also means that traditional methods of examination have to be reconsidered to see if they are appropriate to the curricula of entrepreneurship programmes.
To be effective, business start-up education needs teachers that have received training on entrepreneurship and business start-up, and, ideally have first-hand experience. Teachers also require teaching materials that are appropriate for the level of student and to achieve the learning objectives in different disciplines. Staff career development and reward structures should recognise and encourage educators’ teaching in helping learners achieve the desired outcome and developing and sustaining the entrepreneurial ecosystem. Securing the support of teachers can influence the attitudes of other teachers and faculties as a whole.
An even more effective approach to designing and delivering entrepreneurship education is to collaborate with entrepreneurs. Integrating the experience of entrepreneurs through case study and project work ensures that the material taught is relevant and practical.