The University of Northampton launched its new institutional strategy to become the UK's leading university for social enterprise at The House of Lords on Monday.
The event was attended by over 60 influential opinion leaders and representatives from across the social enterprise sector, including Nick Hurd MP, Minister for Civil Society; Derek Clark, MEP for the East Midlands; UnLtd (the world's largest social enterprise start-up programme supporting 8,000 entrepreneurs); The Young Foundation; Northamptonshire County Council; Universities UK, and regional politicians Michael Ellis MP (Northampton North), Brian Binley MP (Northampton South) and Andrea Leadsom MP (South Northamptonshire).
We have developed a new and unique offer for our students to encourage new entrepreneurial competences and employability. From October 2011 all of our students will have the opportunity to work in, or set up, a social enterprise as part of their degree course.
We are the first university to make social enterprise our strategic mission, and by 2015 we aim to be the top university in the UK for social enterprise.
Professor Nick Petford, Vice Chancellor of The University of Northampton
The University of Northampton's social enterprise strategy will deliver three main elements: a new student offer; the integration of social enterprise into teaching and learning and research throughout the University; and a long-term strategic project with local authorities, businesses, the third sector, and individual citizens in Northamptonshire.
This final element of the strategy is embodied in the 'inSpirE Northamptonshire' initiative, which is being delivered in partnership with Northamptonshire County Council and social enterprises, businesses, and public sector organisations throughout the county.
inSpirE supports the county's new and existing social enterprises and community and voluntary organisations by providing them with training, development and expert support so they can become more professional and take advantage of the opportunities that are emerging as a result of the decentralisation agenda to deliver public services.
The timing of this announcement is immaculate, coming as it does at the opening of our national 'Universities Week' (a national campaign to demonstrate the value of higher education). The University of Northampton's new strategy is hugely important in presenting the value of higher education, and we believe their approach will have far reaching benefits for students, businesses and the wider community.
Nicola Dandridge, Chief Executive of Universities UK
Speaking on the value of the University's work with Northamptonshire County Council:
"The national economic crash has left the country with a massive overdraft and big decisions to make.
Our partnership with the University is intended to empower our community and provide the opportunity and resources to enable people to help themselves, with a safety net remaining for the truly vulnerable."
Councillor Jim Harker:
"I'm delighted to add my support to The University of Northampton's focus and initiatives around social enterprise. The University is taking a lead in supporting students' entrepreneurial skills and future employability, while also demonstrating how businesses and public services can be supported in a way which adds real value to the local community."
Michael Ellis MP (Northampton North:
"The House of Lords event provided guests with further detail and explanation about the University's work and plans in social enterprise. Nick Hurd MP, Minister for Civil Society, has asked for future information and meetings to enable him to learn more about the University's plans to provide an education that will prepare graduates for work, alongside a commitment to enhancing services for the local community."
University launch to be No. 1 for Social Enterprise