EU Funds, Agro-Tourism and Extra-Curricular Enterprise in HE: Themes of Entrepreneurship Seminar

The Entrepreneurship Research Cluster is a group of academics and researchers from Plymouth University dedicated to research on enterprise and entrepreneurship.

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The Entrepreneurship Research Cluster is holding series of seminars from September until December this academic year, hosted in the Futures Entrepreneurship Centre.

The first seminar will take place this week, on Friday 16th September with a talk by Dr Nikolaos Apostolopoulos Cursed Money? EU Structural Funds and Agritourism Entrepreneruship in Greek Rural Areas.and doctoral researcher Sarah Preedy What’s in it for us? Students’ Perceptions of the Value and Impact of Extracurricular Enterprise activities in Higher Education.


I would cordially like to invite you all to join us this Friday 16th in the Futures Centre, Mast House room 204, at 11am.

Please email Jeanine.levers@plymouth.ac.uk to confirm your attendance and inform us of your dietary requirements. Complimentary light lunch will be served. 

Parking is available at the Premier Inn pay and display car park next to Mast House.

Where: Mast House, Futures Centre room 204

When: 11-1:30 pm

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Details about the talks:

Dr Nikolaos Apostolopoulos’s talk: Cursed Money? EU Structural Funds and Agritourism Entrepreneruship in Greek Rural Areas.

The purpose of this research is to explore and identify whether funding agritourism entrepreneurship through European Funds for rural growth produces the desired and expected results in Greek rural areas. This research explores through questionnaires 218 agritourism enterprises in rural areas that were funded by the European Union Structural Funds through the Rural Development Programme 2007-2013. Moreover, representatives of local chambers and regional authorities participated in 10 semi-structured interviews. As it is presented in the empirical data analysis, the results of funding agro-tourism entrepreneurship in rural areas through the Structural Funds were not the expected ones; the impact on rural development was low in relation to the aims of the funding programme. The developmental actions from Structural Funds took the form of a rather subsiding initiative which creates a permanent contingency for funding.

Sarah Preedy’s talk: What’s in it for us? Students’ Perceptions of the Value and Impact of Extracurricular Enterprise activities in Higher Education.

Extra-curricular enterprise activities have been recognised as valuable in supplementing in class learning and stimulating student’s enterprise knowledge, skills and experience (Edwards and Muir, 2005; Hannon, 2007; Rae et al; 2012). In acknowledgment of the value of extra-curricular enterprise activities many Higher Education Institutions (HEIs) have incorporated them into their wider extracurricular offer, in particular to focus on the practical component of enterprise education. This paper will explore students’ participation in extra-curricular enterprise activities from the student perspective, specifically focusing on which students participate in these activities, their expectations and outcomes, and the perceived impact of participating on their entrepreneurial behaviours, competencies and capabilities.

This study used an online survey method to conduct a pre and post evaluation of extra-curricular enterprise activities running at a post 1992 University in the 2015/16 academic year.  Each survey contained both open and closed questions to provide quantitative and qualitative data. A control group of students that did not engage in extracurricular enterprise activities was also surveyed at the beginning and end of the academic year (2015/16) using a non-engagement survey providing a comparison.

Results: The study found that students participating in extra-curricular enterprise activities were more likely to be female, studying a programme within the Faculty of Business and in the second or final stages of their programme.

Students reported participating in extra-curricular enterprise activities for many reasons, the most popular being ‘interest’, followed by ‘enhancement of employability’. A comparison was made to a non-engagement ‘control’ group, and outcomes were comparable to those students engaging in extra-curricular enterprise activities. This raises questions of the importance of addressing these outcomes within enterprise-focussed education. With reference to specific competencies, students improved across all competencies bar ‘creativity’ in the enterprise engagement groups, with significant improvements in ‘resilience’ and ‘perseverance’. Yet in the non-engagement groups, most competencies decreased. This strongly suggests that extracurricular enterprise activities are useful for improving students’ personal competencies. The presentation at the cluster meeting will gain feedback on this study before Sarah presents a extended version of the paper at the ISBE Conference in October 2016.

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