Report launched on entrepreneurship in third level

Minister of State for Higher education, Mary Mitchell O’Connor launched the report

Minister of State for Higher education, Mary Mitchell O’Connor, has launched a report on ‘Supporting Entrepreneurship and Innovation in Higher Education in Ireland’’, with the European Council (EC) and  the Organisation of Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD).

The report highlights the role that Higher Educational Institutes (HEI’s) play in fostering entrepreneurial career paths for their students and staff. The report stated that “major obstacles” occur when “knowledge exchange and engagement with business and society are not included in the HEI’s core functions or core funding”. The report notes that HEI’s need a supportive framework at national and institutional level to facilitate the correct allocation of resources, create staff incentives, train educators and form partnerships.

As part of the report, visits were carried out to six institutions: Galway-Mayo Institute of Technology (GMIT), Limerick Institute of Technology (LIT), University of Limerick (UL), University College of Cork (UCC), Dublin City University (DCU) and Dundalk Institute of Technology (DkIT). These visits highlighted the importance “innovative” research and engagement which lead to stronger success rates. This was seen particularly in Institutes where entrepreneurship was taught with continuous professional development activities supported by the Campus Entrepreneurship Enterprise Network (CEEN) and the National Forum for the Enhancement for Teaching and Learning in Higher Education.

The report also noted several areas in which HEI’s could improve, including start-up support for staff and students, and to establish mentoring links with entrepreneurial institutions abroad, and that there should be a review of employer restrictions to allow higher engagement with businesses during courses.

Speaking of the report at the launch, Minister Mitchell O’Connor said: “It highlights the fact that engagement between institutions, employers, community and regional stakeholders is becoming increasingly important. Building bridges between all these stakeholders is a key goal in the Action Plan for Education.”

The Deputy Secretary General of OECD, Mari Kiviniemi said: “Students need incentives and support to engage with entrepreneurship. A recognition of what students learn in entrepreneurship courses is important. Diploma supplements on entrepreneurship competencies that graduates can show their future employers are a good example.”

Trinity graduates have started more companies than any other European university, and was placed 48th in the world for producing venture-backed graduates in September this year, according to Pitchbook’s ‘Universities Report’ rankings. Currently, Ireland has the highest share of employment in the Information, Communication and Technology (ICT) sector in Europe at 5.14 %, compared to the OECD average of 2.85%.