Design and plan learning activities and/or programmes of study

Acknowledge the wider context in which higher education operates, recognising the implications for professional practice

What can I do?

  • Teaching students to be entrepreneurs gives them the knowledge and skills to start a business
  • Teaching students to be entrepreneurs works best in degrees where the focus is on conceptual and theoretical knowledge compared to degrees that are more applied
  • It also makes it more likely that they will start a business and that it will be successful

What is this about?

In the context of higher education, entrepreneurship refers to the process of starting and running a business or organisation. Entrepreneurship education is designed to teach students the skills, knowledge, and attitudes necessary to start and grow a business, including idea generation, market research, financing, marketing, and operations management. Entrepreneurship education can take many forms, including traditional classroom instruction, experiential learning, internships, and mentorship programs.

Entrepreneurship is not the same as small business management, which refers to the process of running and growing an existing business. It is also not the same as business administration, which refers to the management of various business functions, such as finance, marketing, and human resources. While entrepreneurship education may include some elements of small business management and business administration, it is focused specifically on the process of starting and growing a new venture.

What's the evidence say?

Entrepreneur education focuses on both the knowledge and skills of business and how to start and grow a new business.

Embedding entrepreneurial learning in higher education enhances important entrepreneurial outcomes.

This kind of education has a moderate effect on students' entrepreneurial knowledge and skills and a modest effect on their abilities to start and grow a business upon graduation.

Surprisingly, the effect is stronger for academic-focused education than it is for training-focused education.

An unexpected finding in the Martin et al. (2013) review was that entrepreneurial training that was provided to students studying more conceptual and theoretical topics resulted in better outcomes than when the same kind of training was provided to students in applied degrees.

Human capital theory helps explain how entrepreneur education works.

Human capital is traditionally measured by the level of education, work experience and other life experiences. Human capital theory predicts that people with higher levels of knowledge, skills, and other competencies will achieve greater performance outcomes than others with fewer skills. Human capital is further defined by splitting it into two parts: investments and assets. Human capital investments include inputs such as time and money spent on a course, whereas human capital assets refer to capabilities such as knowledge and skills.

What's the underlying theory?

  1. The Theory of Experiential Learning suggests that entrepreneurship education can facilitate learning by providing students with hands-on, real-world experiences that allow them to apply and test their knowledge and skills. Through entrepreneurship education, students can engage in problem-based learning, reflection, and feedback, which can deepen their understanding and retention of course material.
  2. The Self-Efficacy Theory suggests that entrepreneurship education can influence learning by providing information about students' abilities and performance, which can shape their perceptions of their own self-efficacy, or belief in their own ability to succeed. Feedback that is specific, timely, and actionable can help students see their progress and feel more confident in their abilities. On the other hand, feedback that is vague, late, or not actionable can undermine self-efficacy and discourage learning.
  3. The Social Identity Theory suggests that entrepreneurship education can influence learning by providing opportunities for students to develop a sense of identity and belonging within the entrepreneurial community. Through entrepreneurship education, students can learn from role models, mentors, and peers, and can form relationships that can provide social support and encouragement. The social identity and sense of belonging that students develop through entrepreneurship education can enhance their motivation and learning.

Where does the evidence come from?

We have reasonable confidence in the findings.

There is only one meta-analysis that informs this evidence summary (hence the deduction of one mark), but there are other high-quality studies that present similar conclusions (see references below). The paper by Martin et al. (2013) is of high quality. They include information about studies that included random assignment, homogeneity, and bias. Their reporting indicates that the findings are fairly stable and valid, giving us confidence about the value of entrepreneur education.


Bae, T. J., Qian, S., Miao, C., & Fiet, J. O. (2014). The relationship between entrepreneurship education and entrepreneurial intentions: a meta-analytic review. Entrepreneurship Theory and Practice, 38(2), 217-254. https://doi.org/10.1111/etap.12095

Martin, B. C., McNally, J. J., & Kay, M. J. (2013). Examining the formation of human capital in entrepreneurship: a meta-analysis of entrepreneurship education outcomes. Journal of Business Venturing, 28(2), 211–224. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jbusvent.2012.03.002

Nabi, G., Liñán, F., Fayolle, A., Krueger, N., & Walmsley, A. (2017). The impact of entrepreneurship education in higher education: a systematic review and research agenda. Academy of Management Learning & Education, 16(2), 277-299. https://doi.org/10.5465/amle.2015.0026

Additional Resources