Road-testing entrepreneurship indicators gathers momentum
Thematic Area: Education and business
As ETF’s pilot project to determine viability of indicators for entrepreneurship promotion in tertiary education enters its final phase, some 22 universities participating in the second and final phase of the project are now engaged in a self-assessment process with follow-up international peer reviews scheduled in September. Two participant universities have already completed the peer review process - University of Yarmouk (Kingdom of Jordan) and the University of Montenegro, with experts from each university putting education policy, university strategy, staff development and university-enterprise cooperation under the microscope.
ETF’s Anthony Gribben joined Jordanian entrepreneurship education expert, Dr. Fuad Al Shaikh of Yarmouk University, on a marathon round of interviews and hard-hitting question-and-answer sessions involving Montenegro’s leading academics, the country’s top policy officials as well as key representatives of Montenegro’s enterprise community. 'An intensive four days unpacking the country’s policy and university environment, with access to policy leaders, business and third-level education community allows us to arrive at some clear conclusions as to how entrepreneurship is addressed in Montenegro’s higher education system,’ says Mr. Gribben. Guided by a set of indicators drawn up in 2008 by experts from 20 countries participating in the project and adjusted on the basis of the experience of the 2009 pilot run, Gribben and Al Shaikh point to three core findings.
‘While the advocacy for a more developed ‘across campus’ approach to entrepreneurial learning could not be stronger, how to get all faculties in all universities in the country to sign up to the entrepreneurship agenda requires reflection and dialogue,’ says Mr. Gribben. ‘A starting point could be more visibility and know-how transfer from the Faculty of Economics at the University of Montenegro where leadership, vision, staff engagement and partnership with enterprise is excellent.’ He adds, ‘we were impressed to see how more vocationally-oriented faculties like electrical engineering and metallurgy were very much linked into local industry and particularly the interest of top university management in the concept of entrepreneurship across all faculties. ‘The ‘across campus’ approach is what uncertain economies require,’ says Professor Andjelko Lojpur, Vice Rector for Academic Affairs at the University of Montenegro, ‘while maximising employability of our graduates is a number one concern,’ he adds.
Entrepreneurship education policy forms a central plank in the ETF policy index. ‘Unless you have the fullest commitment of the policy community to the entrepreneurship education agenda,’ says Fuad Al Shaikh, ‘getting all parts of the higher education system to come behind the entrepreneurship agenda is an up-hill struggle.’ However, the outcomes of the peers’ discussions with Montenegro’s top policy officials suggest that the country’s key decision makers are firmly behind a more concerted entrepreneurship education drive. Deputy Prime Minister, Vujica Lazović, is clear about what is required. ‘We need to put all our efforts into building an innovative and entrepreneurial culture and our education system is essential here,’ he said. Dr. Lazović’s sentiments are echoed by Branko Vujović, Minister of Economy. ‘Entrepreneurship needs to be in the pores of all young people and our schools and universities are critical to developing the entrepreneurial mindset of upcoming generations,’ says Dr. Vujović.
Recently introduced legislation on higher education appears to provide a window of opportunity. ‘We want to use our new higher education law to shape a strategy and action plan where entrepreneurship will be a defining feature,’ says Dr. Igor Radusinović, Deputy Minister of Education.
‘Interestingly all policy, business and university officials we met were adamant that the entrepreneurship education drive should begin earlier in the education system,' says Dr. Al Shaikh. The push for a lifelong approach could not have been stronger and is particularly demanded by enterprise interest organisations like the Montenegrin Employers' Federation and Chamber of Economy.’
The assessment in Montenegro was led by Dr. Dragan Lajović, CEO of the Montenegrin Investment and Development Fund of Montenegro and economics professor at the University of Montenegro. The results of the assessment, along with other assessments from the 2009-2010 pilot project, will be fed into a paper to be used for discussion purposes at an end-of-project meeting in Turin on 25-26 November.
The pilot indicators form part of ETF’s support to the European Commission in promoting policy messages from the EU’s education and enterprise policies. They borrow particularly on recommendations by EU experts for more developed entrepreneurship promotion in higher education. The policy driver for project is the EU's Small Business Act and a complimentary instrument for the EU's Southern Neighbourhood region - the Euro-Mediterranean Charter for Enterprise and an accompanying work programme. The project contributes to ETF's wider thrust to encourage strategic reflection and analysis of human capital developments, including education-economy cooperation, within ETF partner countries.
For more information, contact Evgenia Petkova, ETF Country Manager for Montenegro
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