University of Wales Trinity Saint David

University of Wales Trinity Saint David Erasmus+ participants

Helping students to gain career-boosting skills, driving innovation and entrepreneurship in education

Through their Erasmus+ project, the University of Wales Trinity Saint David (UWTSD) improved the entrepreneurial skills of its students and staff, as well as educators across Europe.

Utilising the European Entrepreneurship Competence Framework (EntreComp), UWTSD developed a series of projects to improve education in this area, up-skill students and staff and improve their career prospects in line with industry needs.

Dr Shelley Doolan from UWTSD said: “Our fundamental goal is to improve the long-term prospects of our graduates and to equip them with the tools and confidence they need to succeed.”

To help achieve this, UWTSD coordinated an Erasmus+ Knowledge Alliance project called Arts and Humanities Entrepreneurship Hubs (AHEH).

Managed by the European Commission, Knowledge Alliances are centralised projects involving higher education institutions and businesses that foster innovation, entrepreneurship, creativity, employability, knowledge exchange and multidisciplinary teaching and learning.

man sharing his ideas to a groupLed by Swansea College of Art, UWTSD, the AHEH project brought together a group of 14 universities and businesses from Portugal, Ireland, Wales, Spain, Finland, Croatia and Italy to develop Arts and Humanities students' entrepreneurial skills.

It involved the research, design, testing and dissemination of a programme of entrepreneurial training specifically for Arts and Humanities staff and students aligned with the EntreComp Framework. 

Dr Amanda Roberts, Senior Educational Liaison Officer, said: “Involvement in the AHEH project provides students at Swansea College of Art, UWTSD, with an exciting programme of opportunities and training.

"These are designed to develop creative enterprise and entrepreneurial thinking skills that are invaluable to enhance employability and develop the next generation’s contribution to the creative economy in Wales.”

The value of international experience

Through the project, staff and students took part in international study visits. One group visited the Ship Festival in Finland, an international event for business start-ups featuring training workshops, mentoring support and live pitches to a jury of investors.

Dr Roberts said: "Having the opportunity to take students to Finland and Spain to work with other creatives has widened their perspective, developed their confidence and understanding, and facilitated international networking opportunities."

While developing their confidence, students were also able to better understand how to apply their degrees to the world of work.People discussing on a table

Jess Parry, a Fine Art student who participated, said: “This trip has altered my perception of how to develop my practice and profession as a young artist, soon to be graduating from university.

"It has also given me a new perspective into how my degree can be used externally.”

Andrew Bowen, also a Fine Art student, highlighted the value of the international experience.

“It was the information and knowledge gained from the discussions and dialogue with fellow European students, lecturers and business partners that I took most from this trip," he said.

"These discussions have moulded my thinking to stretch beyond the small bubble of the Swansea art scene and forced me to think of myself as a true global citizen. It has allowed me to realise the true scope of jobs available to art graduates, including working in television and teaching roles.”

Implementation into the curriculum

Work on this project had a direct impact on the curriculum of the university. The outcomes of the research, development and pilot-testing activities of the AHEH project contributed to the development of professional practice modules at Swansea College of Art.

Our fundamental goal is to improve the long-term prospects of our graduates and to equip them with the tools and confidence they need to succeed

Alison Franks, Lecturer in Performing Arts, Swansea College of Art, UWTSD, explained the value of these modules. 

“We know the importance of our students being fully prepared for the creative industries. Our new professional practice modules are seminal to students' development as it empowers and enables them to discover their own agency as artists, collaborators and project leaders, giving them the opportunities to build confidence, resilience and have their voices heard as emerging artists in an exciting, yet competitive sector.”

Creative collaboration for success

UWTSD's work on entrepreneurship didn't stop there. It also received €289,000 for an Erasmus+ higher education strategic partnership project, ECO-SystemApp, which promoted entrepreneurship education. The project delivered free training courses and resources to educators at all levels to help them deliver up-to-date entrepreneurship education.

woman writing on paperThis was one of the first courses developed to align with the 2016 European recommendations for entrepreneurship education in the EntreComp framework.

Following the success of this work, UWTSD went on to lead a Key Action 3 Support for Policy Reform project, EntreComp for Teachers, which designed and piloted a cutting-edge professional development programme for trainee and existing teachers. 

Working with Brussels-based Bantani Education and LUT University in Finland, the programme aimed to develop teachers’ skills based on the EntreComp framework and demonstrate how these skills can be put into action in their teaching. The programme was scheduled to be piloted with teachers in Wales, Spain, Italy, Belgium, the Republic of North Macedonia and Finland.

“Working in collaboration with our European colleagues has enabled us to gain valuable insights into innovative and effective approaches to delivering entrepreneurship education and industry liaison,” Dr Doolan concluded.

Want to find out more about Erasmus+ stories? Visit our dedicated webpage.