Digital disruption, changes in the labour market and the shift from students as consumers to creators of knowledge are fundamentally changing the higher education landscape. While some voices still call for preparing employable graduates, there is a growing realisation that in a knowledge economy career ready graduates need to be proactive, entrepreneurial and resilient to self-manage their careers. This paper presents an entrepreneurial learning model as a useful framework for higher education professionals. We argue that viewing entrepreneurship as a human problem-solving method, applicable across disciplinary boundaries, enables the design of innovative solutions to organisational, social and economic challenges as well as the creation of engaged and empowered graduates. We use a qualitative research design, drawing on multiple data sources such as student perspectives, observation, researcher journals and field notes from a multi-disciplinary experiential entrepreneurship model (MEEM) at USC (2014-2015). These data sources were thematically analysed to determine how entrepreneurial principles were used in creating start-up ventures in the MEEM case and the student outcomes and skills developed. We find that five entrepreneurial principles were instrumental in the process, namely drawing on readily available resources of the students involved, adhering to a non-predictive learning mindset that favours experimentation above elaborate planning, risk minimisation through iterative design, co-creation with pre-committed stakeholders and leveraging contingencies, thus embedding resilience. Student outcomes ranged from the creation of start-ups, to confident, empowered graduates finding their dream jobs. Future work skills such as novel and adaptive thinking, trans-disciplinarity, collaboration and a design mindset were cultivated. We demonstrate the transferability of this entrepreneurial learning model from business, journalism and design to other disciplines such as education, engineering and sport science. In conclusion an entrepreneurial approach is fundamental to enacting innovation and developing resilient graduates who can proactively self-manage their careers.
2015 University Research Conference: Integrate, Innovate, Inspire, Sunshine Coast, Australia 13-16 July 2015