UWTSD collaborative project enhances graduate employability through innovative entrepreneurial learning


A 3-year collaborative project is helping to enhance graduate employability at the University of Wales Trinity Saint David (UWTSD) by sharing knowledge and expertise in innovative entrepreneurial learning.

Students smile in front of brook running down a steep expanse of rock.

The Arts and Humanities Entrepreneurship Hubs (AHEH) project is co-funded by the European Union under the Erasmus+ programme. The project brings together a partnership of 14 organisations from 7 European countries from the worlds of Academia and Business to jointly research, design, and test and disseminate a programme of entrepreneurial training for Arts and Humanities staff and students.  

By sharing innovative entrepreneurial practices, the aim is to develop creative enterprise and entrepreneurial thinking skills that are invaluable to enhance graduate employability.

The evolving outcomes of the research, development and pilot-testing activities of the AHEH project are already being implemented into the curriculum at UWTSD’s Swansea College of Art.  This September sees an ambitious and exciting launch of the new Professional Practice module for all Level 5 Art and Design students.

Stage one of this module involves a series of presentations and workshops delivered by an inter-disciplinary team of educators, practitioners and researchers, from across Europe; supported by enterprises.

Students will be introduced to a wide-range of subjects and skills-development including team-building; ideation; marketing communication and social media; the art (and science) of pitching; funding; IP; budgeting and costing; understanding different types of enterprises; as well as all aspects of project planning.  It will culminate in a ‘live pitch’ event, where student teams will present their project ideas to a panel of industry experts.

UWTSD’s Dr Shelley Doolan, AHEH Project Co-ordinator said:  “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.  Sharing expertise and experience has accelerated the process of researching, developing and testing a programme of entrepreneurial support for arts and humanities students that can be tailored and contextualised for each institution.

“We are delighted that the emerging research outcomes of the AHEH project are contributing to the development of the professional practice module at Swansea College of Art.  In the next few weeks we have an exciting programme of activities planned for our students, supported by many of our European project partners as well as UK-based art practitioners and enterprises.”

Alison Franks, Lecturer in Performing Arts added: “At Swansea College of Art, UWTSD, 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.  The Professional Practice modules also allow students to engage with and respond to, the ever increasing social and cultural conundrums present in our changing political and environmental landscape, encouraging them to discover creative and unique approaches, ideas and solutions to improve and redefine the world around them.”

Creativity and innovation are at the heart of University of Wales Trinity Saint David’s (UWTSD) mission to enhance graduate employability and the number of graduate start-ups. Our aim is to utilise our collective skills, knowledge and technology to enable the University and its graduates to offer solutions to the most urgent societal challenges – in Wales and further afield. Our vision has a strong commitment to building a sustainable society driven by innovation and entrepreneurship.

Innovative learning and industry collaboration is a key focus at the University, creating more opportunities for students to enhance their prospects after graduation. This unique approach of bringing students, academics and businesses together enables them to explore ideas and create opportunities for the development of new sustainable businesses, products and services.

This summer staff and Students from AHEH project partners benefited further from key teaching and learning opportunities during their visit to Finland to take part in a pilot training study trip.  The trip included visits to the Design Factory and Urban Mill at Aalto University as well as the Ship Festival at Kotka.  The Ship Festival is an international festival of entrepreneurship including mentoring support and live pitches to a jury of investors.

UWTSD PhD Student, Steven Whitehill said: “Aside from the excellent programme of the trip, the chance to experience a different city, its people and culture shouldn’t be underestimated in importance. Experiencing a new place in all its richness, is difficult to quantify in terms of measurable tangible benefits, but those benefits are emphatically real; food, architecture, art – all provide reference points for a rich and expansive knowledge base which is critical to developing and nurturing the creative thinking and reasoning skills needed in Arts and Humanities subjects.”

Students smile while standing inside a café in Finland.

Dr Mark Cocks, Assistant Dean Academic and Marketing (Welsh Institute for Science & Art) added: “Preparing our students for the range of portfolio careers within the creative industries is paramount to our learning and teaching philosophy here at SCA. We believe that it is essential that our students develop their creative personality alongside their artistic practice in order to successfully enhance future graduate prospects. Therefore, this innovative project enables our students to appreciate and extend their inherent creative abilities. Through an interdisciplinary team-working experience they explore their individual potential and channel their transferable creative skills into an exciting collaborative enterprise challenge.”

The AHEH project will lead to the development of 7 new Entrepreneurship Hubs within partner Universities to fully embed entrepreneurship within Arts and Humanities education.

Outi Raatikainen, Pink Eminence, Finland said: “As a business partner [Pink Eminence] on the AHEH project, the work has opened up and given understanding on the arts & business entrepreneurship skills situation in participating European countries. This helps to position and develop our help to existing and potential Finnish clients in a larger context when needed. The differences found in the WP1 report also create basis that helps our work with clients that value internationalisation. Close contact with the participating universities provides us a network of skills and a source of knowledge on a European level.   The project aims at creating a functional Hub network on European level. This forth coming pilot training is of special interest to us.”

Two students sit at a table, on of whom is making notes in green felt tip on a piece of paper.

Further Information

Rebecca Davies

Swyddog Gweithredol Cysylltiadau â’r Wasg a’r Cyfryngau

Executive Press and Media Relations Officer

Cyfathrebu Corfforaethol a Chysylltiadau Cyhoeddus

Corporate Communications and PR

Mobile: 07384 467071

Email: Rebecca.Davies@uwtsd.ac.uk