Connecting Social Enterprise and Higher Education: Universities as Drivers in the Support of Social Enterprises in the United Kingdom

Connecting Social Enterprise and Higher Education: Universities as Drivers in the Support of Social Enterprises in the United Kingdom

Sara Calvo (Middlesex University, UK)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-4666-9567-2.ch025
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Abstract

Despite the increased attention paid to enterprise and entrepreneurship education in recent years, there exist limited bodies of research on the extent to which higher education institutions support and promote social enterprises. This chapter addresses this by drawing on previous research concerning enterprise and entrepreneurship education in universities and their role as drivers in bringing social change and improvement in individuals and the wider society. This chapter provides many examples of social enterprise curricular and co-curricular programmes in higher education institutions in the United Kingdom and concludes with a discussion of the opportunities and challenges of universities supporting social enterprise initiatives with a roadmap for future research directions.
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Introduction

Key studies have suggested that entrepreneurship takes up a vital position in society and contributes to the economic growth of countries (European Commission, 2000, 2003; Karmel and Bryon, 2002; Gibb and Hannon, 2007; Pittaway and Hannon, 2008). Over the past few years, there has been active discussion regarding the role of entrepreneurship in economic development across the globe (Matlay, 2008; Wilson, 2009). The interest in the field of entrepreneurship has intensified since the economic crisis of 2008, as more people have decided to take up self-employment (O’Connor, 2013).

The pressures of globalisation and consequent structural changes to economies have led to considerable effort amongst policy makers and governments worldwide to advocate enterprise and entrepreneurship education across universities, suggesting an increased need for education and training of venture creators (Pittaway & Cope, 2007; Zhao, 2004; O’Connor, 2013; Hannon 2006; Heinonen & Poikkijoki, 2006; Oosterbeek et al., 2010). A clear example of this is a report on ‘Enterprise and Entrepreneurship Education’ published by the Quality Assurance Agency and the European Commission in 2003 that suggested that enterprise and entrepreneurship education should be undertaken across the curriculum. The report pointed out that by developing enterprising behaviours and skills among students, we could enhance their employability opportunities as well as offer them a space to learn about the prospects and risks faced in running an enterprise. As this report highlighted, providing enterprise and entrepreneurial experience may also be beneficial to higher education institutions (HEIs), by increasing the attractiveness of what they can offer for potential students (European Commission, 2008).

This policy environment has contributed somehow to the establishment of a diverse range of entrepreneurial and enterprise curricular and co-curricular programmes, events, competitions, and awards being offered in various forms in HEIs across the globe (Atherton, 2004; Hytti & O’Gorman, 2004; Solomon et al., 2002). However, several authors have criticised the emphasis that policy makers and governments are putting on enterprise and entrepreneurial education, arguing that this is the effect of marketisation at the expense of educational and social benefits to individuals and communities (Field, 2006; Hemsley-Brown, 2011; Jack & Anderson, 1999; Katz, 2003; Klapper, 2004; Leffler & Svedberg, 2005).

While critical literature on Entrepreneurship and Enterprise education is on the increase, mostly in the United States and the United Kingdom (UK) (Jones & Iredale, 2010), (see, for example, Tedmanson et al. (2012), and the special issue in the journal Organization, 2012, 19(5)), there exists a shortage of empirical studies on social enterprises and higher education (Universities UK, 2012). Such research is needed because it will assist universities to develop innovative pedagogies that can be tailored to students and staff with diverse skills and from different socio-economic and cultural backgrounds to create and bring social change and improvement in individuals and the wider society (Galloway & Brown, 2002).

Key Terms in this Chapter

Ashoka: Is an American organisation, founded in 1980 by Bill Drayton, which identifies and invests in leading social entrepreneurs from all over the world -- individuals with innovative and practical ideas for solving social and environmental problems (Ashoka, 2015 AU150: The in-text citation "Ashoka, 2015" is not in the reference list. Please correct the citation, add the reference to the list, or delete the citation. ).

People’s Voice Media: Is a social enterprise network established in 1995 in Salford, Manchester, which works across the UK, Europe, North America and Africa to empower people by gathering stories about their lives and insights into the services, products and policies that impact on their lives ( PVM, 2015 ).

Co-Curricular: Refers to activities, programs, and learning experiences that complement, in some way, what students are learning in school (for example, experiences that are connected to or mirror the academic curriculum).

Social Enterprise UK: Is the national body for social enterprise that was formed by Social Enterprise Coalition and Social Enterprise London in 2012 to represent social entrepreneurs and help grow the social enterprise movement in the country (SE UK, 2015 AU154: The citation "SE UK, 2015" matches multiple references. Please add letters (e.g. "Smith 2000a"), or additional authors to the citation, to uniquely match references and citations. ).

MakeSense: Is an active global organisation established in 2010 that focuses on supporting and promoting social enterprises. Over the past five years, it has connected thousands of volunteers and is now active in over 100 cities worldwide (Makesense, 2015 AU153: The in-text citation "Makesense, 2015" is not in the reference list. Please correct the citation, add the reference to the list, or delete the citation. ).

Enterprise Alliance: Is a partnership established in 2010 between the National Association of College and University Entrepreneurs (NACUE), Enterprise Educators UK (EEUK) and the Institute for Small Business and Entrepreneurship (ISBE) to provide enterprising learning and practical development initiatives for students ( Enterprise Alliance, 2015 ).

Higher Education Funding Council for England (HEFCE): Established in 1992, is a non-departmental public body of the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills in the United Kingdom, responsible for the distribution of funding to universities and colleges of higher education (HEFCE, 2015 AU152: The in-text citation "HEFCE, 2015" is not in the reference list. Please correct the citation, add the reference to the list, or delete the citation. ).

Exemplas: Is a business skills and employment company that for more than 20 years has provided support for 100,000 private and public sector organisations (Exemplas, 2015 AU151: The in-text citation "Exemplas, 2015" is not in the reference list. Please correct the citation, add the reference to the list, or delete the citation. ).

Foundation for Social Entrepreneurs (UnLtd): Is a charitable organisation, formed in 2000 to promote social enterprise in the UK, offering cash awards, networking and mentoring opportunities for social entrepreneurs in the UK. The organisation also works in other countries, including Spain, South Africa and India ( UnLtd, 2014 ).

Quality Assurance Agency for Higher Education (QAA): Is an independent body established in 1997 which is responsible for safeguarding the standard and improving the quality of UK higher education ( QAA, 2015 ).

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