Interview with Pam Vaughan

What’s your experience in terms of Social Enterprise?

I’m here representing the Association of Colleges. I know a bit about how enterprise is taught in colleges and I have been doing some work on how it’s taught in India. We are developing a project there.

What is the project?

It’s being launched by one of our colleges. It has joint funding from the UK and Indian governments putting together to fund projects which develop collaborations around different phases of education. I’m particularly interested in further education.

There’s an initiative in India that’s being piloted now. Polytechnics in India tend to be very focused on young people, who will receive a couple of years’ training specialised subjects. What they don’t have much of [in India] is training for adults, in their twenties or over.

So the purpose of the project is to bring in these people who maybe missed out on education opportunities. We have a lot of further education colleges in the UK that serve people with different needs i.e. someone who has decided on a career change. There isn’t as much of that in India.

So we’re trying to get these colleges that are very focused on younger students to open up their provision to the wider community, particularly to poorer people. It’s quite different for the teachers and lecturers so part of the project is to help them build this capacity for engagement. It’s a big thing for an adult to go back into education.

The project is jointly made with the All India Council for Technical Education and the British Council. They want to have a student engagement project. We’re doing the project on entrepreneurship. It’s about direct delivery from the UK institution, to try and develop entrepreneurial behaviours in community college students, often adults. It’ll be delivered face to face. There will be an online learning programme as well. There will also be Skype, distance-based learning.

At the end of it, they will get a UK certification and will be more sensitised to behaving like an entrepreneur.

What challenges are there in India in this area?

The cost is about five times more expensive in the UK, which is a big difference for India.

The students in some of the Indian colleges pay £40 a year. There’s no similar comparison here.

Also, a typical class size in India is 60-70 students.

We had some Indian tutors come over to Portsmouth last year. They were surprised by all the facilities and who was responsible for them. In India, a tutor is responsible for huge rooms and all the property within them. If a chair goes missing, they have to pay for it. It’s very different.

Also, as the colleges are doing something they haven’t done before, there are things they are not used to, such as marketing themselves.

In the terms of the UK working with India, it’s obviously very far away and very different. Sending people from the UK to India, where they won’t know how to navigate themselves, isn’t easy. Organising around all these issues costs money. There’s a lot of potential and goodwill but there are also a lot of difficulties.

We were having a discussion earlier about entrepreneurship being embedded in the curriculum. One of the Indian gentlemen [in the room] said they were not ready for that because they are still struggling with the basics.

I’m sympathetic to that to an extent, but entrepreneurship is being embedded in the way the environment, for example, is being taught, alongside reading, writing etc.

As a former teacher, there’s nothing worse than being told you have to cover numeracy, literacy, grammar etc in your lessons. But you can do those things if it’s presented well.