Re-shaping Irish universities: The application of Self-Determination Theory to an entrepreneurial education policy

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O'Driscoll, Josh
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University College Cork
National Forum for the Enhancement of Teaching and Learning in Higher Education
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“Entrepreneurs are heroes in our society. They fail for the rest of us….. Courage (risk taking) is the highest virtue. We need entrepreneurs.”Nassim Taleb (2018: p36 & p189) – Skin in the Game: Hidden Asymmetries in Daily Life. Drucker (1985) states that entrepreneurship is neither a science nor an art, but a practice. Therefore, this paper works with the assumption that entrepreneurship can be nurtured. The skills and competencies that a deeper learning around entrepreneurship can bring has the potential to make all students more creative individuals. Unfortunately, according to Eurostat (2019), Ireland is one of the worst countries in Europe for start-ups, lagging behind the E.U. average. Additionally, Entrepreneurship Education at School in Europe (2015) found that Ireland was the country with the lowest percentage of young people that have started their own business. Is our education system failing to equip our youth with skills and competences needed for entrepreneurship? If this is the case, Ireland needs to implement a policy that can change this, before Ireland becomes even more dependent on multinational/foreign companies for economic growth and employment. Other countries have shown that learning “for” and “about” entrepreneurship can bring many more benefits than just business formation ideas (Bager, 2011; EU Expert Group, 2008). Even if one does not value entrepreneurship, or has no interest in being an entrepreneur, the skills and competences learned will help every individual, regardless of their career choice. This paper argues that introducing an entrepreneurial education policy in Ireland could reap massive benefits moving forward. This paper aims to carry out three tasks: 1. To outline an entrepreneurial and enterprise education policy that increases students’ autonomy of their own learning experiences. 2. To present a convincing argument of why Ireland should implement this policy moving forward. 3. Recommend plausible and practical actions in order to implement such a policy in Ireland. This paper is structured as follows: the theory section outlines the Self-Determination Theory that serves as the theoretical backbone for this argument. Evidence of Good Practise presents evidence to back up the need for such a policy and possible solutions towards the improvement of entrepreneurship education. This will build on the theory presented in the Method Section. Conclusions summarises the argument presented and highlights future lines of research.
Entrepreneurship , Start-ups , Entrepreneurial education policy
O’Driscoll, J. (2019) 'Re-shaping Irish universities: The application of Self-Determination Theory to an entrepreneurial education policy', Learning Connections 2019: Spaces, People, Practice, University College Cork, Cork, Ireland, 5-6 December, pp. 149-154. doi: 10.33178/LC.2019.29