UNIVERSITY, INSTITUTIONAL POLICIES AND ENTREPRENEURSHIP. HOW CATALAN UNIVERSITIES ARE PROMOTING ENTREPRENEURSHIP
In last years, and especially today, entrepreneurship has represented and represents a wide-ranging challenge for Catalan universities and, in general terms, one of the up-and-coming cutting-edge areas in the last 30 years of higher education research in Europe (i.e., Shane & Venkataraman, 2000; Davis, 2001; Mora & Villarreal, 2001; Bouckenooghe, De Clercq, Willem & Buelens, 2007; van Burg, E.; Romme, G., 2014).
“Entrepreneurship and the university: diagnosis, best practices and courses of action in Catalan universities” is a study aiming to determine and transform current visions, attitudes and practices in Catalan universities in the promotion of entrepreneurship, embracing strategies to optimise the employability of future graduates.
It is an applied qualitative study based on multiple interpretative case studies (Stake 1999), using a sample of six Catalan universities (the University of Barcelona, the Autonomous University of Barcelona, the University of Girona, the University of Lleida, the Polytechnic University of Catalonia, and Pompeu Fabra University). At these universities a range of degree subjects has been selected in order to make the study sufficiently representative (front Law to Fine Arts – Conservation/Restoration and Design).
The key informants from each university are:
- Vice-rectors in charge of entrepreneurship (if they exist);
- Vice-deacons, heads of studies and/or heads of units (if there exists for example, a Chair or Unit in Entrepreneurship);
- The person in charge of the Entrepreneurship Unit (if relevant)
- Teaching staff
- Students (from the 4th year of the degree courses in the sample)
During the design phase, the following information-gathering instruments and strategies were developed: online questionnaires for lecturers and students, discussion groups for teachers and students, analysis of documents (applied to institutional documents, and study and teaching programmes) and in-depth interviews with vice-rectors and heads of studies.
The main conclusions about the institutional policies are:
- The policies and strategies of the universities: entrepreneurship and related terms appear explicitly in the official documents of several of the universities studied in the last four years. However, this has not yet been generalised to all of them, and decision-makers point to the need to include it as an explicit area of study.
- Allocation of budgets and human resources: There is little or no allocation of funds and human resources to entrepreneurship.
- Target public for training in entrepreneurship. These policies are materializing especially in the form of training initiatives for students. As yet they have had no impact on training for teaching staff, although specific training needs in this area have been identified amongst them. The inclusion of entrepreneurship in classes is not backed up by any specific staff training but depends on the background and previous experience of each teacher. Training in this area is not institutionalised, and often works in an “informal” way and between colleagues.
- Actions so far carried out. In overall terms, Catalan universities are carrying out four basic types of actions in the area of entrepreneurship:
o Transversal training initiatives (conferences, workshops, etc.)
o Consulting and mentoring for young entrepreneurs (offices, chairs, etc.)
o Specific subjects, normally optional.
o Areas of study in degree projects at bachelor and master levels.