College staff need to have “flexible mindsets” for the sector to become more entrepreneurial, according to an author and trainer on the issue.
Speaking at the Association of Colleges' annual finance conference in Hinckley, Rebecca Jones, author and trainer on what she calls the “enterprise mindset”, told the audience she accepted the sector was facing a number of challenges, but so were many others.
“We have got to find solutions,” she said. “I think you have just got to look a little bit outside your sector at what everyone else is doing.” She had recently tried to book a short evening course at her local college, but when she was told to fill in a form and send in a cheque, she chose to opt for a much more expensive course by a private provider instead. “Why can I not pay by credit card? Why can I not fill in a form online? That college would have had my money.”
This was one example, she suggested, of colleges blocking entrepreneurialism that would help them raise money, rather than making it easier. Leaders have long urged colleges to become more commercial in tight financial times. “Staff need to be stretchy in their mindset,” Ms Jones stressed. Colleges should review their current position to understand why they needed to be more commercial, she said, and leaders needed to encourage and enable staff to be enterprising – with the best method of doing so to actually run enterprising projects.
“You can incentivise, and that can be financial, but that doesn’t work long-term,” she said. In the long run, Ms Jones said supporting staff in their ideas and ensuring they knew they would not be blamed for failure was crucial.