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engage – Centre for Engaged Education through Entrepreneurship

Norwegian University of Science and Technology (NTNU)

Centre

The stated aim for the Centre is to develop education for students from all disciplines and professions who will constantly challenge accepted truths and innovate for the better, in both the private and public sectors. The Centre interprets entrepreneurship in a much wider sense than simply starting new businesses. Instead, the focus is upon developing change agents: citizens able to respond to the complex challenges of the modern world through an “entrepreneurial mind-set”.


Strengths and weaknesses

ENgage brings together a range of partners with complementary skills: NTNU School of Entrepreneurship, Nord University Business School, NTNU Experts in Teamwork, NTNU TrollLABS and Spark NTNU. These partners have many years’ experience in different aspects of entrepreneurship education. The expert panel was particularly pleased to see the important position and roles of students and student organisations within ENgage.

A key mission of the proposed centre is to provide opportunities for students from all disciplines to gain entrepreneurial experience. This will be achieved in a number of ways including the introduction of new learning approaches in existing programs. Vital to the success of this initiative will be support from senior management within the University. It was very clear to the expert panel that this support is already in place and that this development aligns with the University’s strategic direction.

A diverse range of external stakeholders is committed to the development of ENgage as an SFU. These stakeholders can enrich the SFU through demonstrating the entrepreneurial mind-set in a range of settings and by providing advice, mentoring and real-world problems for students to address. The Centre leader impressed the expert panel with his vision and understanding of what is needed to make the SFU a success. However, to be successful the centre leader needs active management support from all the leaders at all levels associated with the centre. He will have an important role to play in ensuring that the different partners and work packages come together to form an integrated whole rather than operating in separate silos. The proposed Steering Group has a vital role in supporting him to achieve this and the expert panel felt that the membership of the Steering Group should be revised to include the Vice-Rector.

The relevance of this proposal to higher education across Norway is evidenced by the fact that, since the publication of the SFU short-list, a number of universities had approached ENgage to seek involvement with the proposed activities. These approaches provide ENgage with potential opportunities for ‘dissemination for action’ and the team will need to build these into their, as yet, embryonic dissemination plan.

In common with most proposals, there are weaknesses in the team’s understanding of evaluation and impact frameworks. The Centre leader will need to work closely with the individual work package leaders to ensure that evaluation and impact are integral from the outset of the project. This will ensure dynamic feedback, generating ongoing improvement rather than just a static end of project final judgement.

Overall, the international expert panel viewed this as an exciting proposal with the potential to make a significant impact across the whole of Norwegian higher education. Whilst still in need of some refinement, it has a good likelihood of success.

Concept:

ENgage will develop education for students from all disciplines and professions who will constantly challenge accepted truths and be innovative, in both public and private sectors. In a world that is constantly changing, citizens need to be able to identify challenges, have the will to act upon them, and be the driving force for change. ENgage will educate agents of change, with an entrepreneurial mind-set, regardless of context. The centre is a consortium of NTNU’s School of Entrepreneurship, Nord University Business School, NTNU Experts in Team, TrollLABS and Spark NTNU.


Strengths and weaknesses:

This highly ambitious bid focuses on interdisciplinarity and learning through real-life issues, which is a strength. The input factors are strong overall, drawing on different groups bringing different strengths, strong networks and a strong management group. The main staff are all active researchers and has substantial publishing records on entrepreneurship. There are some creative methods well attuned to the development of entrepreneurial mind-sets. The students are active and the use of student mentors is extensive. There is a clear recognition for quality outcomes and impact. 

The proposal is based on a major set of initiatives coming together. There is a well-structured plan with several work strands. There are multiple partners in this impressive consortium. International partners are also involved.

The centre focuses on an important area for society. The development of change agents with entrepreneurial mind-set, with a focus on action learning, student to student learning across all disciplines and ’train the trainer’ efforts are very worthwhile chiming with national and international priorities. Students are envisaged as having a key role in many aspects of the centre. Whilst the action-based learning approach clearly makes students active, the student engagement with in the centre could have been more clearly articulated. The claims about innovation in teaching are not fully substantiated.

Dissemination is well thought through, and build on a range of existing mechanisms, and there are interesting ideas around using students as agents of dissemination. However, a more developed plan for dissemination would have been useful especially in relation to achievement of pedagogical change. Impact evaluation is addressed and is promising. There is a clear statement about additionality.

A key issue is co-ordination. There is a case made for coherence and synergy. A risk seems, however, to be diversity and fragmentation. It will be a challenge to manage various partners. 


Points to consider:

  • How can the international dimension be further explored?
  • How will the centre come together as a coherent whole and impact the sector?
  • How will students be involved in developing the centre?

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