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Over the last few years, universities have increased their efforts to be more engaged and better connected to their local and regional ecosystem and to achieve greater impact. During the 2022 UIIN Conference in June, one of the key topics discussed during keynotes, case studies presentations, panel discussions, and workshops was the need for higher education institutions (‘HEIs’) to become more engaged, innovative and entrepreneurial. The characteristics and benefits of this have been well documented through UIIN research and form the foundation for the UIIN Entrepreneurial Universities Program.
In this blog post, we share five significant outcomes from being an engaged and/or entrepreneurial HEI.
- Empowered Students
Engaged and/or entrepreneurial universities tend to favour curricula that focus on innovative teaching, engaged learning, service learning and leadership. Their courses will encourage all students, regardless of whether they are enrolled in the STEM fields, to undertake entrepreneurship and adopt an innovative and entrepreneurial mindset/attitude in their studies. Students with access to these learning and teaching methods benefit from transdisciplinary approaches and a more holistic university experience beyond theoretical learning. In addition, they gain practical skills, enhanced agency, and vital self and civic knowledge.
In working with different universities as part of the UIIN Entrepreneurial Universities Program, we identified that around 85% of students are not involved in activities related to entrepreneurship and innovation.
- Employable graduates
Because innovative or entrepreneurial universities provide entrepreneurship programming and innovation experiences in their courses, academics and students at these institutions will inevitably gain vital transferable skills for their future employment. In addition, it is not uncommon for these HEIs to provide industry-friendly learning environments and internship programs that give additional opportunities to engage with potential prospective employers and benefit from industry knowledge.
- Impact-driven research
Innovative or entrepreneurial HEIs are leaders in applied research and knowledge mobilisation and are often championed for deliberately employing an innovation strategy to translate ideas into action. Such actions lead to creating vital start-ups, SMEs and ground-breaking research that goes on to have practical results in tackling some of the most pressing current challenges and provide lucrative commercialisation opportunities. Such HEIs will demonstrate co-creation in knowledge and efficacy resulting from well-developed external engagement structures and strategic partnerships. Students and researchers at these institutions also benefit from improved insight and understanding.
In fact, while developing their roadmaps for becoming more entrepreneurial, one of the key considerations of the UIIN Entrepreneurial Universities Program is building pathways for student and academic entrepreneurship with access to networks, events, facilities and capital.
- Contributions to social infrastructure
Because they are collaboration-driven and employ community-based programs, HEIs that emphasise innovation and entrepreneurialism are more likely to actively engage with their local ecosystem. In doing so, they contribute to the social infrastructure of their community and develop relationships with representatives of business, civil society, NGO and governmental communities. The most successful of these universities and institutions will provide long-lasting infrastructural investments in society through systems and infrastructure that enable the creation of a just, equitable, and sustainable world.
Previous UIIN Entrepreneurial Universities Program participants have shared that learning from other universities organising their approach to entrepreneurship and regional engagement helped them identify elements that might apply to their universities.
- Enhanced institutional reputation
Ultimately, creating a culture around innovation and entrepreneurship enables HEIs to acquire purpose, validation, impact, and relevance. In addition, HEIs gain a competitive advantage and reputationally integrity in their community and country. Notable intellectual output, alums, and activities from the University will gain widespread support and reinforce its reputational integrity.
Our UIIN Entrepreneurial Universities Program is open to universities from anywhere in the world, of all shapes and sizes, and it welcomes up to 8 universities to participate in the cohort. As a university participant, you will form a core team of 5-6 representatives ranging from university leadership, research, academic and professional staff operating at the interface with industry.
Interested already? Don’t miss out on the opportunity to bring your University to the next level of innovation, entrepreneurship and engagement.
Register before September 16th to enjoy early-bird prices and join the next cohort running from October 2022 and February 2023. For more information about the program, click here.