Minister Mitchell O’Connor launches OECD/EU Report on Ireland’s entrepreneurship education

23 October 2017 

Minister Mitchell O’Connor launches OECD/EU Report on Ireland’s entrepreneurship education

Irish Minister of State for Higher Education, EC and OECD are launching a report on Supporting Entrepreneurship and Innovation in Higher Education in Ireland

Irish Higher Education Institutions are engines for economic development

Entrepreneurship and innovation in higher education are critical for driving business start-ups, knowledge transfer, internationalisation, engagement with society and entrepreneurial mind sets in the labour force. Irish Universities and Institutes of Technology offer many great examples of how to act entrepreneurially.

These examples are examined in the new report by the OECD and the European Commission on “Supporting Entrepreneurship and Innovation in Higher Education in Ireland”, launched today [23rd October, 2017] by the Irish Minister of State for Higher Education, Mary Mitchell O’Connor, T.D., the Deputy Secretary General of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development, Mari Kiviniemi and Antoaneta Angelova-Krasteva, Director for Innovation, International Cooperation and Sport in the Directorate-General for Education, Culture, Youth and Sport of the European Commission.

To support entrepreneurship and innovation, Higher Education Institutions (HEIs) need to be entrepreneurial and innovative themselves in how they organise education, research and engagement with business and the wider world. This requires introducing supportive frameworks at national and HEI level for resource allocations, staff incentives, training for entrepreneurship educators, strategic partnerships and so on.

The OECD/European Commission review conducted a comprehensive assessment of Irish HEIs including a detailed survey of all university and Institutes of Technology leaders and extensive study visits by an international review panel Universities and Institutes of Technology in Ireland.

The report shows that HEIs are playing a fundamental role in fostering entrepreneurial career paths for their students and staff. These activities are driven by senior management, usually by a combination of the vice-president for research and the heads of faculty.

Innovative approaches to teaching and learning, and greater synergies between the core functions – that is, education, research and engagement – are fundamental for success. Study visits to six HEIs – Galway-Mayo Institute of Technology, Limerick Institute of Technology, University of Limerick, University College of Cork, Dublin City University and Dundalk Institute of Technology – revealed several very successful practices that stimulate and reward leadership at all levels, and create proper support structures and incentives for staff and students. For example, a strong emphasis is placed on supporting teachers to teach entrepreneurship with continuous professional development activities supported by CEEN, the Campus Entrepreneurship Enterprise Network and the National Forum for the Enhancement for Teaching and Learning in Higher Education,

The report also identifies some areas for improvement:

  • Increasing start-up support for students and alumni who wish to found a new venture.
  • Broadening the scope for multi- and transdisciplinary research initiatives in research priorities and in the effort to mobilise HEIs in regional and national development
  • A review of current employment control restrictions in higher education to allow for enhanced engagement activities with business and society
  • Continued support for HEIs to establish collaborative and mentoring links with innovative and entrepreneurial HEIs abroad
  • A system-wide exercise to document and assess the impact of entrepreneurship and innovation in higher education.

Minister Mitchell O’Connor said:

“It’s great to see that the HEInnovate country review highlights so much good practice in the Irish institutions visited, across a range of areas including entrepreneurship education, work placements, fostering entrepreneurial career paths for students and research.“

“This report is a testament to the quality of the teaching in our Higher Education Institutions and the findings of the review will inform best practice in entrepreneurial education across Europe”

“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 findings and recommendations from the review will inform policy and in particular the new Entrepreneurship Education Policy Statement and the revised System Performance Framework for HEIs which we are currently working on.”

The Deputy Secretary General of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development, Mari Kiviniemi said:

“The Irish education system plays a fundamental role in developing an entrepreneurial mindset among students and staff. This combination of creativity, initiative, problem-solving, marshalling resources, and mastering technological and financial knowledge is what all of us need to succeed in any field.”

“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.”

Antoaneta Angelova-Krasteva, Director for Innovation, International Cooperation and Sport of the European Commission’s Directorate-General for Education, Culture Youth and Sport

“We congratulate Ireland for its successful completion of the HEInnovate review process. HEInnovate is a key initiative in making Europe more innovative and entrepreneurial as it supports individual higher education institutions in their ongoing transformation to more entrepreneurial organisations. We believe that this positive experience will motivate other Member States to join this initiative. "