Jun 13, 2011

A socially enterprising university - a new model for Higher Education?

The Guardian reports: 
The University of Northampton is today officially launching its new institutional strategy – it wants to become the UK's leading university for social enterprise.
There are other UK universities which target the social enterprise sector, but we are the first university to make social enterprise our strategic mission: and by 2015 we aim to be the top university in the UK for social enterprise.
The University of Northampton's social enterprise strategy has three main elements: a new student offer; the integration of social enterprise into teaching, learning and research throughout the University; and a long-term strategic project with local authorities, businesses, the third sector, and individual citizens in Northamptonshire. We aim to delivering significant improvements to the county. We will support decentralisation via social enterprise, and promote the building of social capital.
All our research centres are currently identifying how social enterprise can be integrated with existing research projects; and all new research projects are considering how social enterprise can be included. However, we also recognise that social enterprise is not relevant for some areas of research. But we are not unquestioning about or uncritical of social enterprise, many of our research projects are actively questioning whether social enterprise and decentralisation are the way ahead for some sectors.
Our aim for the Inspire project is unashamedly ambitious; we want Northamptonshire to be the Silicon Valley of social enterprise in the UK.
Will other universities follow our lead? Possibly - if they share our analysis that the social enterprise sector will become increasingly important, then to prepare their graduates for gainful and responsible employment in the sector, new engagement initiatives and new courses will be developed. With over 120 universities in the UK there is definitely room for diverse strategies and provision. Social enterprise will be an increasing part of that provision, and Northampton is there first.

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