Between 28 February and 3 March 2023, the third Study Visit of the HERESA project took place in Cork, Republic of Ireland. These days have been hosted by the Munster Technological University/Ollscoil Teicneolaíochta na Mumhan (MTU) within an intense programme of meetings, visits and sessions of different nature. The South African university partners were able to get to know and understand the European entrepreneurial research and education ecosystem, with special emphasis on the one developed at MTU.
The study visit was structured in 3 monographic days:
1) Entrepreneurship research, education and curriculum development.
2) University links with industry and the business world
3) The promotion of entrepreneurship among students and university staff.
On the first day, the official opening of the study visit took place in the presence of the President of the MTU, Prof. Maggie Cusack. In addition, Dr. Helen McGuirk and Ms. Caroline O’Reilly presented the MT model of entrepreneurship, emphasising the empowerment of sustainability in the entrepreneurial mindset. Ms. Rebecca Robinson presented a range of tools she works on in her community of practice for entrepreneurship education, from digital badges, to tools for assessing how innovative an institution is, to tools for self-assessing the degree of entrepreneurship. During the afternoon, Dr. Helen McGuirk led an interesting workshop on Creative Thinking, which was an interesting challenge of self-knowledge to discover capacities and roles, to consider why to do things, and to plan how to do them in order to obtain results with limited resources. The intense day continued with an important session on industry engagement led by Prof. Irene Sheridan. Finally, there was a review of the day and a discussion among the participating partners (and the participation of observers) with a view to incorporating the concepts of the day into the objectives of the visit.
On the second day, Ms. Caroline O’Reilly gave a broad overview of the Business School, the portfolio of programmes and the integration of the SDGs into them. Ms. Trudie Murray showcased the student-centred curricula and practice-oriented courses, as well as the different models of entrepreneurship. She also brought up the Community of Practice in Entrepreneurship Education and Research (CPEER), a peer-to-peer group for the academic and research person. Then, Ms. Carole O’Leary presented the Campus Enterprise and Entrepreneurship Education Network (CEEN) and talked about the creation of the Entrepreneurship Graduate and draft guidelines and key criteria for the revision of Enterprise and Entrepreneurship Education. With the participation of Dr. Gearoid O’Súlleabháin it was possible to learn about the technology-enhanced learning model in situ in the building of the MTU campus where the TEL takes place. The Italian partners from Politecnico di Torino had the opportunity to present their model of collaboration with industry and how they have developed their approach to the new digital industrial revolution. The day was completed with an interesting visit to the Cork Chamber of Commerce and SMEs, accompanied by Mr. Gerard O’Donovan, Head of the Faculty of Business and Humanities at MTU.
On the third and final day of the study visit we continued to be accompanied by Dr. Helen McGuirk. Ms. Angel McGlynn told us about the EDGE (Engage. Design. Generate. Explore.) graduate development programme, where students, through their own page on this site, develop their skills and attributes by working on four themes: a) their engagement with the world, b) designing for their future, c) generating an innovative mindset, and d) exploring their creativity and curiosity. Ms. Lisa Murphy also addressed issues focused on staff and students. She introduced the concept of social entrepreneurship (social value and social needs and problems) and how they are working on it through specific software that allows them to introduce people to social entrepreneurship. A striking part of the study visit was the visit to MTU’s business support centre and incubator “Rubicon”. There, Mr. George Bulman showed the centre, how it works and its most relevant initiatives. He also introduced different entrepreneurs who presented their work and exchanged opinions and comments with the participants. At the end of the day, a further session with all the partners and the observers led to the production of a SWOT on the situation in South Africa in relation to that seen in European entrepreneurship, and to the elaboration of a series of recommendations which, together with the evaluation of the study visit, should help to develop the theory underpinning the institutional entrepreneurship strategy for South African universities (objectives, goals and actions).
The next phase of the project will build on the work carried out during these intensive days to outline the South African institutional strategy at the leadership workshop to be held at the end of March 2023 at the Cape Peninsula University of Technology (CPUT) in Cape Town, South Africa.