Press Releases

University helping to change Britain's Enterprise Culture – University of Reading

Release Date : 20 December 2004

John and HannahMost of Britain's leading entrepreneurs believe Gordon Brown's attempts to change the country's enterprise culture have failed, according to Ernst & Young's recently released sixth annual survey of entrepreneurs. Dr Andrew Godley of the University of Reading agrees. "The Government is funding Enterprise Education in schools with some considerable generosity. But the real impact of any additional investment in Entrepreneurship Education is seen at Universities, where almost all of Britain's leading entrepreneurs of the next decade are studying," he said. Students like Raz Khan (second year BSc Information Technology) confirm that, "hearing real people, who have made something of themselves stand up and talk about their experiences has given me a much better understanding of the business world." He is one of 130 students registered on the University of Reading's flagship course in Entrepreneurship, the largest accredited course in Entrepreneurship Education in Europe and a genuine contributor to Gordon Brown's vision of the UK as an Enterprise Economy. The University of Reading has a long-standing tradition in business education, rooted in what is one of Europe's leading research-intensive Business Schools. Its Entrepreneurship course is equally distinctive. Unlike elsewhere, the Reading course carries credit, is embedded within the student curriculum, is taught from within a traditional academic department, and by academics with international research reputations in the field, as well as incorporating the personal stories of several visiting entrepreneurs. The difference is important according to Dr Godley, the Business School's Director of Teaching and Learning. "The typical course in Enterprise in British universities today is extra-curricular," he said. "But to have any impact on the student body that model is wrong. Only those students already well predisposed to entrepreneurship will attend. By incorporating the course into the curriculum and giving the students credit, it means that many more attend, and from more diverse backgrounds and interests. That spells a change in Enterprise Culture." One result is that the course has inspired Reading students into setting up their own Entrepreneurship Society, inviting a host of entrepreneurs to speak at their gatherings. "Students often think they have good entrepreneurial ideas, but that is mostly not enough. This course teaches them substance," said Professor Shai Vyakarnam, who helped launch the University of Cambridge Centre for Entrepreneurial Learning and has been working closely on the design and development of the Reading course. So students have to think of business ideas and prepare them for presentation and assessment. Because there are so many science and technology students mixing with management students, there has been a rash of really excellent business ideas. Ideas that leading executives think should be taken further. Chris Burke (ex CTO of Vodafone UK ltd), for example, believes that the course is "very practical and very insightful". Godley worked closely with senior representatives of the Thames Valley's dominant local industries, the IT and telecoms sectors, for two years to decide how best to prepare graduate entrants into these firms. It quickly became obvious that all students needed to understand the importance of being self-starters, goal-setting, team-working and technology management. According to Burke, the "skills of Entrepreneurship significantly contribute to an individual realising their full potential in the complex world of business today". And so the 'Practice of Entrepreneurship' emerged as a university-wide course in 2004, meeting with such widespread enthusiasm from the start. The University's location, in what is surely the UK's leading Enterprise City, the heartland of Europe's 'Silicon Valley', means that entrepreneurship is 'in the air'. And the students pick up on that. Local entrepreneurs, like Peter Jaco (CEO of BeCrypt – the UK's leading encryption software company), are eager to share their excitement at the pace of change in the high-tech economy. As Jaco summarises: "The better educated students are before they embark on a start-up business, the more successful they will be in practice, and so the more jobs, opportunities, investment and support resources they will create and attract to their local business communities, like Reading and the Thames Valley." The students also benefit from input from Reading's outstanding business development team (including the most successful University-Industry Knowledge Transfer Partnership office in the country) and enthusiastic support from SEEDA (the local Regional Development Agency). End For media enquiries and to arrange an interview with Dr Godley, please contact Craig Hillsley, the University's press officer. Tel: 0118 378 7388 Email:


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