Self-selecting Entrepreneurial Students: Reflecting on a University Selection Event

Lucy Hatt, Tony Blackwood, Angus Robson, Michael Fowle, Lee Pugalis

Research output: Contribution to conferencePaperpeer-review

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Objectives: This case study examines the development, design and staff perspectives of selection events for an undergraduate degree in Entrepreneurial Business Management. Aspects of design and delivery promoting student self-selection and individual assessment of fit are described which are intended to have a positive impact on recruitment and retention. Prior Work: This work-based programme is based on the Finnish ‘Team Academy’ model (Tiimiakatemia, 2013) where participants work in teams as business owners and learning takes place in the context of establishing and managing those businesses. It was introduced at Northumbria University in September 2013 and, since its introduction, events have been held to support the recruitment of three consecutive student cohorts. This study focuses on the most recent sets of two one-day events conducted in March 2014 and March 2015. The selection events were developed to provide an immersive experience that informed, inspired and energised prospective candidates so as to increase ‘best-fit’ enrolment, optimise their course selection and career development decisions, and enable better informed self-selection. Literature exploring the themes of the growth of entrepreneurial education, the importance of ‘fit’ between HE programmes and applicants, factors impacting enrolment and admission decisions and why UCAS points alone may not offer a satisfactory criteria for the selection of prospective entrepreneurial students have been reviewed. Approach: A mixed method was adopted taking quantitative information from a brief applicant satisfaction questionnaire, and qualitative data drawn from the reflections of staff members involved in the selection events, including some of the authors. Results: Applicant data indicated the events had been interesting, useful and enjoyable and offered several ways in which future events could be enhanced. From a staff member perspective, there were concerns about how well the team working and coaching aspects of the programme were conveyed. Implications and Value: This case study will be of interest to those developing selection events for undergraduate programmes for which traditional academic performance and UCAS application forms serve as imperfect means of discriminating between applicants. Shifting the pressure of the selection decision from the programme team to the applicants may help to achieve a better student:programme fit, and it is likely that events which allow for two-way selection decisions will prove to be most operationally realistic. This case study encapsulates the early research stage of a longitudinal study to track applicants through the selection process to eventual graduation and post-graduation. Although small-scale, the findings reported here would indicate that there may be merit in selection events which enable self-selection across a range of this type of non-traditional programmes.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - 11 Nov 2015
EventISBE2015 - Glasgow, UK
Duration: 11 Nov 2015 → …


Period11/11/15 → …


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