Fostering entrepreneurship has been included in our curriculum since the universities of applied sciences were established.
Over the years, it has been discussed who should and how to support students’ entrepreneurial intentions (Potinkara 2009). Among academics, an ongoing discussion is about how we should define entrepreneurship education.
The Ministry of education and culture published Entrepreneurship education guidelines in 2009 and rewritten guidelines in 2017. The guidelines emphasise among other things an entrepreneurial mindset, real-life learning experiences, active learning, experiments and networking with entrepreneurs.
Today, there are many excellent and practical models in higher education to make entrepreneurship happen.
The entrepreneurship mindset is not only for students interested in establishing an enterprise
The entrepreneurship competence framework (EntreComp) describes an active citizen. The competence framework areas are ideas and opportunities, resources and into action. The framework is based on the definition that entrepreneurship is the capacity to act upon opportunities and ideas, and transform them into value for others. The value that is created can be financial, cultural or social. (EntreComp 2019.)
EntreComp implementation in a curriculum asks for designing the learning to support students’ active participation.
Open online course on entrepreneurship skills
Haaga-Helia School of vocational education has participated in the EASIP COMP project, with the purpose to develop higher education students´ entrepreneurship in practice. The project strengthened entrepreneurship as one of the critical competencies in higher education curricula and provided more effective work-based opportunities to acquire entrepreneurship competency among university students.
An online module (or course) on entrepreneurship was created in the project. The module consists of 12 sessions where students can study entrepreneurship skills guided by assignments and short videos about entrepreneurship. The sessions give basic entrepreneurship information for students who are keen to start businesses. The module is open, and available for free.
Reflecting and assessing entrepreneurial interests and skills
To disseminate the project, we arranged a workshop for high school students studying entrepreneurship and future competence. As learning outcomes we set that participants assess their entrepreneurial mindset and behaviour and know how higher education supports entrepreneurship in learning.
The activities were designed to reflect the EASIP COMP entrepreneurship module. We did not want to lecture on the entrepreneurial content. Instead, we saw it as more critical for students to reflect on and assess their entrepreneurial interests and skills.
Our activities were based on the European-wide EntreComp -model and Sarasvathy´s five principles of an excellent entrepreneur. In the workshop, we concentrated on assessing competence according to the Entre Comp framework areas and deepened it with questions according to Sarasvathy´s five principles of an excellent entrepreneur: Who am I?, What do I know? and Who do I know?.
Also, the EASIP COMP entrepreneurship module was presented. Another inspired part of the workshop was a visit to Haaga-Helia StartUp School. Students received true and practical knowledge on the support for entrepreneurship intentions in higher education.
The feedback we received shows that entrepreneurship learning should be practical and based on learning-by-doing. Knowledge has its place but supporting students to find their own strengths, and entrepreneurial selves is essential.
The EASIP COMP project was implemented in international cooperation and will end by December 2022. Project partners are from Norway, Italy, and Slovenia. Finnish partners are Haaga-Helia and Laurea universities of applied science. Erasmus funds the project.