Being Enterprising in an Educational Context

The role of academic staff in Higher Education is complex and ever changing. The notion of the ‘entrepreneurial university’, a move towards diversifying a university’s funding base, has been instrumental in the transformation of this role. Role expectations are often confused by the interchangeable use of the terms ‘enterprise’, ‘third mission’ and ‘innovation and engagement’. This can be compounded by a limited understanding of social enterprise and resistance to commercialising knowledge.

AIM: my research is concerned with a critical exploration of engagement with enterprise in the Cardiff School of Education and was undertaken between 2009-2013 at Cardiff Metropolitan University.

METHODOLOGY: a case study approach was adopted. All sixty-three academic staff were invited to complete an on-line questionnaire (provided in English and Welsh) and forty-five responses were collated. Twenty-four staff were interviewed gathering viewpoints of academic staff, support staff, managers and senior managers.

RESULTS: these showed that the longer academic staff were employed at the university, the more likely they were to engage with enterprise. Staff had a narrow understanding of enterprise, primarily focussing on income generation. Project managers, whilst supported in their role, often lacked an awareness of appropriate skills. Effective engagement required a marrying of projects to expertise and incentivisation.

CONCLUSIONS: themes that emerged from the data analysis led to the creation of an original model for enterprise, S4E. This has been based on four essential components which are: Strategic significance for Enterprise, Support for Enterprise, Synergy for Enterprise and Success for Enterprise.