The Supportive Institution: Andy Penaluna on How the QAA’s Enhanced Definitions Inspire Young People in Education

Andy Penaluna is the Director of the International Institute for Creative Entrepreneurial Development at the University of Wales Trinity Saint David. Andy sits on the Advisory Board for SFEDI and IOEE, and is the Chair of the QAA (Quality Assurance Agency for Higher Education) Enterprise and Entrepreneurship Review. The QAA released its first Enterprise and Entrepreneurship Guidance document in 2012, and January 2018 saw the release of a new enhanced and updated version, to which SFEDI and IOEE contributed. We caught up with Andy to discuss the changes made and his aspirations for the future.

Q. What was your role in the QAA review of the Enterprise and Entrepreneurship Guidance?

A. In essence, I conceptualised the first QAA from a multidisciplinary approach. Rather than teaching the same traditional business skills to a variety of different subjects, I turned it on its head and looked at it the other way around. It was important that entrepreneurial skills could be developed in different subjects, and in many of the subjects we considered some of the approaches were already there. QAA subsequently invited me to put together a team, and together we developed the 2012 Enterprise and Entrepreneurship Guidance.

This was described as a landmark document by the British Government’s Chief Entrepreneurial Adviser, and was used to inform international initiatives such as the European Commission’s EntreComp Framework. On 18th January 2018, after a year of consultation and review, we released an updated guidance that builds on the success that has been evidenced, learns from interpretations derived from it, and once again looks forward in order to support educators to teach entrepreneurial skills as part of their core subject.

Q. What impact do you see the refreshed QAA guidance having?

A. We had a series of meetings all over the UK  before we decided to update it, and the changes we have made were called for by the educators who joined our consultations. However, these new additions are simply enhancements, in-line with what the community of practice has called for – definitions have been elaborated upon, a new breadth of impact measures have been developed, and the pipeline of learning activities is aligned to institutional support.

We’ve made clearer distinctions between enterprise and entrepreneurship and included such elements as ‘incubators’; a method for students to develop business ideas, which was only in its conception stage when we first began back in 2012.

However, most significantly, we’ve added an entirely new section called The Supportive Institution. This lays out a map of what a successful entrepreneurial institution will do, with such elements as strengthening links and relationships with businesses, social enterprises, alumni and relevant organisations, by inviting entrepreneurs to be guest speakers or visiting lecturers – really honing in on how to personally support, motivate, inspire and nurture a student’s entrepreneurial spark. This way success can be aligned to institutional support, which means bigger pictures of impact can be gained.

Q. How would you like to see government support raising the profile of enterprise education in schools, colleges and higher education?

A. I’d strongly urge the Government to offer more enterprise education support in English schools. In terms of universities they are leading international thought, but it is falling behind in this area in the school sector, whereas Scotland and Wales are moving forward. Look forward to 2022 and we’re going to see some huge changes in the Welsh curriculum, with a real focus on developing creative enterprising contributors, and the necessary changes are underway now. My call would be to the English system – we need to get something solid in development that’s going to prepare pupils for that next stage, whether it be in a university, a job in a small business or, quite possibly, developing an idea or two into a business of their own.