From education to employment

Practical Approaches to Enterprise and Entrepreneurship in Higher Education

Farida Danmeri

Universities are increasingly creating more opportunities for enterprise and entrepreneurship in both the higher education curriculum and extracurricular activities and the benefits are clear. Students who engage with these activities develop enterprising mindsets, improve their employability and have the skill set to potentially launch businesses – which in turn, contributes towards future job creation.

While the added value generated by student-centred enterprise and entrepreneurship activities has been acknowledged, the teaching methods used to facilitate them vary.  In order to understand the best approach, it is important to analyse real-life effective examples from higher education institutions that have designed student-centred learning experiences.

Design Challenges with External Partners

Brunel University London has been ranked 14th best UK university for producing the most employable graduates, as listed in the Global University Employability Ranking 2022 as well as 6th in the UK for its work helping graduates from disadvantaged backgrounds into high-paid work according to the Sutton Trust’s Universities and Social Mobility Report.

Contributing to its success is the diverse entrepreneurship and employability support available at the university.  Examples include Brunel’s Design Factory London and the Professional Development Centre, which collaboratively work with students to develop their professional skills and get them ready for work and or self-employment.

The Design Factory is a global network of 33 design-led innovation hubs at universities that help facilitate teaching human-centred, collaborative innovations across disciplines. It also partners with external organisations from all sectors in developing innovations centred on real-world challenges set by organisations themselves. As well as collaborating across the network to develop innovation solutions together, working across national and professional discipline boundaries.

The most recent event was the D-Ford Design Factory London Challenge: The Future of Mobility. This 6-week hybrid challenge provided students with the opportunity to meaningfully contribute to the transportation industry. A culture of collaborative innovation was fostered through students forming teams online and exploring new ways to design, develop, and shape the future of transportation. They explored the current trends and challenges in the transportation sector, learned from Ford’s experienced professionals in online masterclasses, and gained new perspectives through mentorship and support from the wider Brunel team.

Remote Social Impact Projects

SOAS is in the top 50 UK universities in the Complete University Guide 2023 and is also ranked in the Top 50 universities in the world in the Times Higher Education University Impact Rankings for addressing the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs): Peace, Justice and Strong Institutions, No Poverty and Sustainable Cities and Communities. SOAS’ vision and strategy highlights the importance of developing technically skilled and responsive students through widening participation and pioneering a new model of education which transcends national boundaries.

SOAS Student Enterprise offers students remote fully funded global micro-internships. The extracurricular micro-internships are supported by the organisation Learning Connected and are designed to connect students from diverse backgrounds with global social impact organisations to work on eight-week social entrepreneurship-focused projects following training. The programme aims to enhance the employability skills of participants in an international environment while contributing towards the social impact of social enterprises from around the world.

Embedding Practical Entrepreneurship in the Curriculum

The University of Warwick is the 5th most targeted university by the UK’s top 100 graduate employers.

The MSc Innovation and Entrepreneurship is ranked Number 1 in the UK and Number 25 Worldwide for ‘Entrepreneurship’ in the 2022 Eduniversal Best Masters ranking.

One of the aims of the University of Warwick’s innovation strategy is that every student will have an opportunity to engage with innovation as part of their learning experience. To put this strategy into practice the postgraduate module, ‘Enabling a New Venture’ was designed to give students the chance to explore the practical side of starting a new venture while also considering the “soft side” of running a business, including personal behaviour traits as an entrepreneur, leading and balancing a team, and team motivation.

Students are encouraged to think differently about innovation through exploring international start-up case studies, identifying emerging opportunities and risks and applying their creative entrepreneurial ideas in order to improve products, services, and overall business processes. A key element of fostering an environment for innovation and entrepreneurship involves students applying key concepts from the module through actively interacting with experienced entrepreneurs both online and in-person.


Enterprise and entrepreneurship activities provide an excellent opportunity for higher education institutions to develop impactful student-centred learning experiences as well as mutually beneficial collaborative partnerships which advance students’ employability and entrepreneurship skills and prepare them for life after graduation.

Examples of potential partners include private sector organisations, community organisations and NGOs from local or global communities. Through collaborating equitably with external partners and engaging students in experiential, real-world or project-based entrepreneurial learning, we move beyond assessment and enhance essential skills that can positively influence students’ life outcomes.

By Farida Danmeri, the Founder of Learning Connected, and contributor to the WISE Edtech Accelerator

Please note, the opinions expressed are solely the author’s and do not not necessarily reflect the views or positions of any entities mentioned in the publication.

Farida Danmeri is the Founder of Learning Connected, an organisation that provides students with remote internship opportunities to develop their employability skills through supporting the growth of social enterprises around the world. Farida is also a contributor to the WISE Edtech Accelerator who has been selected due to her thought leadership in the edtech space. Farida also supports entrepreneurship and employability activities at Brunel University and SOAS University London and is a module teacher on the Innovation and Entrepreneurship teaching team at the University of Warwick.

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