Chapter 4. Building entrepreneurial capacity through teaching and learning in the Netherlands

This chapter expands on the findings presented in Chapter 2 with a focus on building entrepreneurial capacity through teaching and learning. It discusses actions that higher education institutions (HEIs) are undertaking in the Netherlands to increase interdisciplinarity of educational tracks and to develop an entrepreneurial mindset among students and staff, government policy efforts to enhance the role of universities in applied sciences in delivering lifelong learning activities, and the growing demand from students for social entrepreneurship education. The chapter also discusses how to assess the impacts of entrepreneurship education on entrepreneurial attitudes, including three assessment tools that have been tested and validated in international studies and could be applied in the Netherlands.



Disruptive technologies and inventions in fields including robotics, energy, biochemistry, food processing and information technology have created awareness that massive technological, economic and social changes will no longer be extraordinary but become the norm. In Industry 4.0, production relations and structures are ever more rapidly changing with the technological means available. The reality is that they reach people much faster than the speed at which higher education institutions (HEIs) can adapt their curricula. The growth of research and development (R&D)-based products and services calls for a more dynamic collaboration across various academic disciplines. In addition, interdisciplinary approaches are needed to understand and deal with societal challenges of technological change, for example related to safety, energy, mobility and living.

HEIs are not yet fully prepared for their role in preparing students for this environment. For example, a survey in the USA showed that while 96% of university officials surveyed believed that their students were well-prepared for life after college, only 11% of businesses agreed (Gallup, 2014). Thus, one mechanism for legitimising new teaching and learning strategies in a context of severe competition for resources and “ivory tower” resistance among some academics to shifting of public funding towards “value creation” activities is to emphasise how new teaching and learning approaches yield important life skills that respond to the changing environment, including creativity, innovation, and entrepreneurial behaviours. The non-cognitive skills that students learn from any well-executed project- and problem-based teaching and learning strategies are applicable far beyond starting a business or even a career in business. The best programmes are encouraging students to “learn how to learn”, to be resilient, action-oriented and comfortable with significant uncertainty (OECD, 2015). The aim is to support individuals to be active, confident and purposeful instead of passive, uncertain and dependent, and to be able and keen to take responsibility as Paul Kearney describes is the approach of the “enterprising individual” (Kearney, 1999).

Interest in entrepreneurship education has increased immensely over recent decades as a means to equip citizens with competencies, as well as to increase the number of innovative and sustainable start-ups. However, knowledge on how different entrepreneurship education approaches affect different types of learners is still fairly limited. The chapter will look into this in its final section.

Analysis and findings

Developing the entrepreneurial mindset

In a changing economy, individuals are now, more than ever, required to become entrepreneurial and to create value for themselves and for others. The question is how to prepare students for this? Two key directions being taken by HEIs in the Netherlands are introducing problem-based learning and interdisciplinary research and education. Both are associated with a transition from a teacher-centric approach to student-led learning (Kolb, 2014). Problem-based and interdisciplinary learning approaches facilitate metacognitive skill development, by emphasising the importance of critical thinking, flexibility, innovativeness and soft skills (such as giving and receiving feedback, or communication and presentation skills).

Problem-based learning

One of the key foundations of much recent theory on skill development and learning styles emphasises the role of problem-based learning (PBL). PBL is used in many HEIs in the Netherlands. It is particularly valuable in interdisciplinary teams that require interactive group work and help students to experience collaboration and co-creation in academic research. Maastricht University is one of the pioneers in PBL. From the beginning, 40 years ago, the university has used and systematised PBL across all faculties with the following key learning principles (Dolmans et al., 2005):

  • Constructive learning, that is, learning is an active process of creating meaning and building personal interpretations, in which students actively construct or reconstruct their knowledge based on individual experiences and interactions.

  • Self-directed learning, which implies that learners play an active role in planning, monitoring and evaluating the learning processes.

  • Collaboration, seen as a social structure in which two or more people interact with each other.

  • The relevance of context and the understanding that learning is situated.

In order to stimulate learning, the students are confronted with realistic problems in relation to phenomena that need to be explained. Problems engage students to construct new knowledge. From that respect, the use of problems in PBL makes learning constructive and contextualised. In PBL, teachers are facilitators who stimulate students towards self-directed learning. Their main tasks are to keep the learning process going, to ensure that all students are involved in the process, to monitor the educational progress of each student in the group and to modulate the challenge of the problem. In PBL, learning takes place in small groups of students. Problems are discussed collectively and in a collaborative environment in which students learn from interacting with each other.

PBL is often employed in entrepreneurship education (Fayolle and Verzat, 2009). The main pillars of entrepreneurship education can be seen as (Kearney, 1999):

  • Giving autonomy and responsibility to the students regarding the learning processes they are committed to.

  • Using experiential learning, setting up learning situations and processes that enable students to learn from their experiences.

  • Encouraging co-operation among students and between students and teachers in the learning processes.

  • Encouraging reflexivity and inviting students to reflect on their experiences.

Enhancing interdisciplinarity

Research universities in the Netherlands have been increasingly organising some of their education and research activities in an interdisciplinary fashion. An example is the University of Utrecht, which has started to focus its teaching, research and value creation activities around four strategic themes. Each theme has to have enough breadth to accommodate several disciplines and have scope for creating real societal impact.

The strategic themes were identified through a university-wide consultation process. The following themes were identified:

  • Dynamics of Youth covers the development of young people in a rapidly changing society.

  • Institutions for Open Societies examines how institutions – the formal and informal rules of human action – contribute to long-term prosperity, equality and democracy.

  • Life Sciences investigates causes, impacts and solutions in the area of infectious diseases and chronic diseases which pose major social problems.

  • Sustainability examines the creation of a sustainable society.

The four themes receive substantial research financing and grass root pilot programmes can receive financing from the university budget of up to EUR 100 000 over four years to develop into substantive new research and education programmes. The strategic themes and associated focus areas also have their own teaching programmes. The Young Innovators programme connects with this. Around 60 students are admitted to each programme cycle, and build their skills in personal leadership, social innovation and creating impact. The Young Innovators programme runs for one year and can be undertaken alongside any master’s programme. For the first half of the year, students work on current societal challenges, for example sustainable housing for refugees, food waste, off-label drugs, transition labs, how to make a city safer through art, and accessible health services (University of Utrecht, 2017).

Capacity building for innovation in teaching and learning

Training for teaching staff is well established in the Netherlands higher education system. It has been practised through formal programmes in the research universities since 2007 and similar initiatives are being introduced in the UAS (see Chapter 1). This training will increasingly have to reflect broader changes in how higher education is organised, including more problem-based learning and interdisciplinary teaching approaches. In this respect, closer connections could be developed with training in teaching methods generally and entrepreneurship education approaches that stress co-operative learning, experiential learning and reflective learning. Spaces and mechanisms to allow teachers to share and analyse different educational practices, including entrepreneurship researchers and entrepreneurship educators, can help to support innovation in teaching and learning. To stimulate this, the Ministry of Education, Culture and Science launched, in 2016, the Comenius initiative (Box 4.1).

Box 4.1. Comenius teaching improvement initiative

The Comenius Fellowship programme funds teaching innovation projects in higher education that are proposed by excellent teachers and education professionals working at institutions of higher learning. It has three tiers: Teaching Fellow (offering grants of EUR 50 000, for innovations at the level of individual courses and modules), Senior Fellow (offering grants of EUR 100 000, for projects at the programme level), and Leadership Fellow (offering grants of EUR 250 000, for innovations at the institutional level). Projects should aim to realise concrete improvements in teaching quality, from which students directly benefit. Proposals are assessed through rigorous peer review on a competitive basis, based on pre-defined criteria. These criteria vary depending on the tier, but include innovativeness, theoretical significance, potential impact, and the teaching record of the project leader. The peer review is facilitated by the Netherlands Organisation for Scientific Research (NWO), the national funding council for education research. Comenius Fellows will also form a community, in which they will exchange and disseminate best practices, and promote high quality and innovative teaching in higher education.

The Comenius Fellowship programme aims to fund innovations in higher education to improve the quality of teaching in the sector. Secondly, it aims to create a network of passionate and accomplished higher education professionals, which can promote excellence in higher education. Thirdly, it aims to recognise outstanding and innovative teaching, thereby increasing the status of teaching within institutions of higher learning and advancing the careers of Fellows.

The Comenius Fellowship programme started in 2016-17 with 10 Teaching Fellowships, with a total budget of EUR 500 000 (out of 92 proposals submitted). For the initial year, all proposals had to pertain to the theme of improving equality of access to higher education. In future years, the Ministry of Education may set other themes. In 2017-18, around 60 Fellowships will be awarded across all three tiers, with a total value of EUR 6.5 million. The programme will gradually be expanded to around 110 Fellowships per year in 2021-22, with a total annual budget of around EUR 20 million.

Source: NWO (2017).

A good example of an institution-wide approach to promoting enhanced innovation in education approaches is the establishment of the Institute of Education Innovation (EDLAB) at Maastricht University (UM) in 2015 (Box 4.2). The initiative involves a network of teachers and other staff that develop new PBL ideas to help students learn about global developments, such as emerging technologies, internationalisation and changing dynamics in the labour market.

Box 4.2. EDLAB: The Maastricht University Institute for Education Innovation

The Institute for Education Innovation (EDLAB) addresses and improves education at a central university level at Maastricht University (UM). The Vice-Rector for Education is the director of EDLAB.

EDLAB converges existing and new ideas on higher education and initiates projects and events that improve the quality of education throughout the whole university. This requires engagement at all levels: teachers, researchers, managers, support staff and, last but not least, students.

EDLAB is set-up in such a way that only with broad faculty-wide input and approval can innovation projects take place. EDLAB employs seven faculty liaisons (incl. University Library) for one day per week to: 1) preserve a solid faculty-EDLAB network, 2) maintain strong and active communication lines with Deans and Vice-Deans of Education, 3) take active part in the aggregation of innovative ideas and interests in the faculty, 4) assist in reviewing and assessing innovative ideas and project proposals, and 5) actively promote EDLAB results and events within faculties.

EDLAB connects to Deans of Education at an early stage to synchronise the current needs and educational issues in faculties and test the opportunities for implementation of project ideas. Faculty Deans will ultimately review EDLAB projects and give their final approval. All projects and activities are centrally evaluated and only in the case of a proof of concept will EDLAB encourage faculties and service centres to implement the results in their education and systems.

During the implementation of project results EDLAB can take up an advising role to assist the faculty in implementing the results. The mandate of EDLAB changes after projects are finished and results are communicated and distributed to faculties (e.g. through central workshops, handbooks or website).

Source: Interviews at Maastricht University in July 2016.

Digital learning environments

Digital learning and the development of digital learning resources are often co‐developed across institutional borders and targeted at the needs of a more diverse student population, lifelong learning, and Industry 4.0. The NVAO and several HEIs in the Netherlands have contributed to the European Quality Assessment for E-learning framework (E-xellence), which is based on a review of a broad range of digital learning environments (EADTU, 2016). Several HEIs have taken this up and support E-learning initiatives through central funding. Examples are the Educate IT programme and the Teaching Innovation Fund at the University of Utrecht based on central-budget funded multi-annual grants for innovation in teaching and learning.

An example of how digital learning environments can be linked with knowledge exchange and valorisation is the Leiden Law Blog, which is part of the Law School at Leiden University. In essence it is a form of valorisation of knowledge and research by means of social media. The Leiden Law Blog stands out by reacting to the latest news while, at the same time, touching on the research in the Law School. The authors are legal experts or criminologists working at the university, including undergraduate and graduate students (all contributors are presented with a short profile and photo). The blog was created in 2012 and has 299 bloggers (including 110 guests made up of former staff members, alumni or students) and more than 262 000 visits (University of Leiden, 2017).

Digital learning environments also spread across classroom borders and connect different dimensions of learning. An example is HKU 24/7. Students of Utrecht Art Academy have set up a Facebook project to report on their learning and studies. They offer a glimpse into their student life with weekly blogs in text and pictures. Those personal pages lead to “traffic” from aspiring students, and the questions, feedback and interaction offer valuable material for further study choice and student learning. The Academy also seeks to learn from these experiences in making services more accessible and education programmes more attractive.

Promoting lifelong learning

The advance of Industry 4.0 calls for continuous renewal and updating of knowledge and skills. Also, the level of skills demanded by employers is constantly being raised due to a relative decline in demand for low-level skills. This makes lifelong learning opportunities important in knowledge economies.

Lifelong learning in the Netherlands is with 18.9% in 2015 almost double the EU average 10.7% and thus well-anchored in the country’s knowledge-based economy (EU, 2016). Contract education constitutes also significant source of revenues for both research universities and universities of applied sciences. To further stimulate lifelong learning in UAS, the Ministry of Education started a pilot in the academic year 2016/17 to introduce a new portfolio of flexible and demand-driven programmes with the aim of increasing participation in part-time higher education and the number of higher education diplomas obtained. Based on the results of the pilot, the government will decide whether or not to implement further programmes.

There are three main policy experiments underway:

  • Learning Outcomes allows UAS to design programmes with a focus on work-based learning outcomes, for example on-the-job training, and part-time students. An educational contract between the student and the HEI states the expected learning outcomes and how these will be achieved. The educational contract gives students a greater say in what they want to learn, how and when, than has traditionally been the case, and employers are also encouraged to discuss with their employee (i.e. the student) which skills would be most valuable for the company.

  • The Partial Accreditation initiative allows UAS to deliver part of higher vocational training programmes to individuals who are already working or who have acquired professional expertise and would like to pursue a higher education trajectory to obtain new skills or competences. It allows for the recognition of previously obtained competences such as professional certificates and on-the-job training.

  • Education Minor is targeted at individuals who are already working in education and would like to obtain a teaching certificate for primary and secondary education.

Associate degrees

The Ministry of Education is also facilitating the design of shorter degree durations. A law has recently been passed transforming the associate’s degree, currently a short-term programme accredited within existing bachelor courses, into an autonomous degree. An example of an associate’s degree programme from Rotterdam University of Applied Sciences is given in Box 4.3.

Box 4.3. Associate Degrees at Rotterdam University of Applied Sciences

The associate degrees (AD) at Rotterdam University of Applied Sciences have two target groups, full-time students from secondary vocational training and people who are already in work. Each of these groups comes with their own motivations and needs. Typically, students that participate in AD programmes feel that a standard bachelor degree programme of three or four years is too long a time investment or would be too difficult to complete. Particularly for first-generation students, who cannot draw on previous family experience in higher education, the AD feels “safer” because it is much more practice-based education.

Every AD programme has a board with members from industry and local businesses who help involve external stakeholders in course design and delivery. The aim is to link students to companies very early on in their studies, starting with a recent pilot initiative to this end with 190 female students trained as pre-school nursery educators. Results so far are very promising and the trend is that most graduates find employment within three months and approximately one-third continue with a regular bachelor programme. Students who wish to continue their higher education can either join directly or get extra help to come up to speed with the requirements of a regular bachelor programme. Rotterdam University of Applied Sciences monitors the impact of the AD through student tracer studies and employer surveys.

Source: Interviews at Rotterdam University of Applied Sciences during the study visit in June 2016.

Exchange platforms that enrich education

Exchange platforms can enrich teaching and learning by supporting HEIs to engage and collaborate with business and civic society in order to draw on real-life problems and challenges. An example is the Urban Big Data Knowledge Lab at the Erasmus University of Rotterdam, which involves an exchange platform between the university and the Municipality of Rotterdam.

Box 4.4. Urban Big Data Knowledge Lab at the Erasmus University of Rotterdam

The Urban Big Data Knowledge Lab is a structural collaboration between Erasmus University Rotterdam and the Municipality of Rotterdam. Its aims and activities are twofold. On the one hand, it explores and conducts the opportunities of “big” data research for developing and implementing more effective and better-targeted urban policies and management, especially but not exclusively in the social domain. On the other hand, the Lab seeks to empower citizens and administrators by making them more aware of the ubiquity of data in the city, by discussing the risks and opportunities, and by assessing the specific areas in which citizen engagement is imperative.

The Lab works on the principle of “co-creation”, meaning that civil servants and academics together develop research questions and organise empowerment activities. A team of three academics runs the lab: three civil servants and a co-ordinator. Basic funding comes in equal parts from the municipality and the university. Additional project-based funding is allocated based on a mutual needs and benefit assessment.

The Lab started in 2015 and developed into a fully-fledged facility in which the municipality and the university could share their data and jointly develop new policy applications, struck on substantial organisational, financial and ethical challenges. It was decided, therefore, to continue on a project basis and build experience and expertise along the way. All projects concern the usage and linking of structured and unstructured city and national data and address questions on benefit fraud, re-integration of unemployed citizens, vulnerable youth, safety and security, and data awareness in the city.

The empowerment activities take several forms, such as: public lectures and workshops; hands-on exercises with data-analytic tools, including a yearly hackathon; and traineeships in the projects, both for students and civil servants with a research task. Specific tools for engaging citizens are so-called data-dialogues and data-walks. These take citizens through the city, asking them simply to look around and ask four questions: where do you see data, what do you think is done with it, who owns it, and is it necessary to have some kind of democratic control over this data?

Source: Interviews at Erasmus University of Rotterdam during the study visit in June 2016.

Some interesting lessons can be drawn from the early experiences of the Urban Big Data Lab. They pertain to different logics and routines of public administration and HEIs. These differences relate to: i) pace (immediacy in the municipality versus long term pace in the university); ii) goals (applied research for the municipality versus fundamental research for the university); iii) organisational cultures (consensus based in the municipality, highly individualised in the university); and iv) individual career assessments (based on a diverse set of activities in the municipality, and a more limited focus on funding and research output in the university).

In the early stages, these differences overlaid everyday collaboration and resulted in questions such as “why can’t we find more academics to participate?” (from the municipality) and “why do we need consensus and meetings all the time?” (from the university). The benefits of the collaboration, for both parties, however, have outweighed these tensions: the municipality has gained greatly from this new approach to evidence-based policy cycle and the university has increased the impact of its research and the relevance of its teaching.

Empowering students to co-design education activities

Even in the most advanced sciences, the practice of involving students as co‐investigators, or even as curriculum co-creators, is a powerful strategy for deep student learning (Boville et al., 2011). As part of this process, students can engage with external stakeholders in informal ways. This type of approach has been practised in other countries, for example in Chalmers (Sweden), Aalto (Finland), or Stanford (US), in the form of student-led and student-designed educational programmes. The approach is also growing in Dutch higher education. Examples are the DesignLab at Twente University and the Buro 302 at Arnhem and Nijmegen University of Applied Sciences (HAN).

Box 4.5. DesignLab at Twente University

The DesignLab offers a physical location for the application of academic research. Students work together in experiential learning activities related to their own startup ideas, as part of a course assignment or as part of a business/industry innovation-challenge project. Students and staff initially advanced the idea of the DesignLab in the context of the ”Create the University” initiative. Researchers from various disciplines got involved, mainly from philosophy, human media interaction, and human media design.

The slogan of the DesignLab is “Science2design4society”, which reflects not only the DesignLab’s goal of providing opportunities for the design of valorisation activities by students based on academic learning and research, but also the ultimate goal of serving the broader community.

The formula of the DesignLab is simple: Students can enter the space – supervised, though informally, by the Dream Team – and work on projects. Students from different disciplines are encouraged to collaborate and help each other, for example business and design students who work together on the development of a business opportunity. The so-called “Dream Team”, students themselves, co-ordinate the DesignLab. As Dream Team members, students experientially acquire social, managerial, administrative and leadership skills. DesignLab provides a platform for international students to meet Dutch students; a significant number of international students are part of the Dream Team.

The DesignLab has started to design a new portal (derived from LinkedIn) where researchers can be searched by theme, in order to provide students and staff with the possibility to network and organise events together. Also, companies are leveraged for their sponsorship potential: Starbucks, for example, organises coffee tastings. On “Tosti Tuesday” (Grilled Cheese Tuesday), students can get free sandwiches. In this way, DesignLab creates informal, attractive networking opportunities for students.

Source: Interviews at Twente University during the study visit in June 2016.

The DesignLab’s accessibility to all students and its interdisciplinary nature make for an informal and “safe” environment that stimulates outside-the-box thinking. Particularly by helping each other, students also provide each other with different and new perspectives, methods and ideas that help develop entrepreneurial competencies (St-Jean and Audet, 2012).

Buro302 is a real company located on campus at Arnhem and Nijmegen University of Applied Sciences (Box 4.6). The founder and director is Professor Job Vogel. Vogel is employed by the university and of his total 1695 annual work hours as a professor, 500 hours are allocated to Buro302. Buro302 offers front-end and back-end design, mainly in the sectors of ICT and communication (Buro302, 2017). The students that work at Buro302 “learn how to learn”, from tasks, from each other, and from working with clients; in fact, they are “encouraged to fail” according to Vogel.

Box 4.6. Buro302 – A Creative Media Mob

Buro302 is a real company located on campus at Arnhem and Nijmegen University of Applied Sciences. B302 is based on a self-learning concept which has its own methodology. It is a good example of how problem-based learning (stemming from the client’s request) in combination with experiential learning (learning by doing, together with other team members) can lead to skill development directly relevant for (future) employers.

A maximum of 25 students can work for Buro302 at any one time. Students do not receive ECTS points for this work, but are paid for their work through a contract of 12 hours per week. Profit on projects goes to the university. So far, 198 students have worked at Buro302 which also has an advisory board of alumni “mobsters”. Students are mixed into multidisciplinary teams that work on projects. By bringing together members from the business, audio/video, design and development teams, projects benefit from a wide range of perspectives, knowledge and experience.

Clients are all from industry. The project team then develops a cost estimate for the client. Students learn about traditional corporate values: accountability, responsibility, and collaboration. Creative sessions are organised with the client. B302 includes elements of problem-based learning, but in an educational environment where there is no final testing but rather students provide the guidance mutually, and success consists of whether the client is satisfied and a possible extension of the project contract. Buro302 has succeeded in setting up an international network with franchises at the University of Minnesota and contacts in Dublin.

Source: Interviews at Arnhem and Nijmegen University of Applied Sciences during the study visit in July 2016.

Linking students with the local economy

Approximately 93% of students in the Netherlands undertake an internship with a company during their higher education studies, a higher proportion than in France (84%) or Germany (79%), for example (OECD, 2014). To have a positive impact on the learner, internships need to be meaningful and relevant. This needs facilitation by the HEI. An example of how this can be organised is the De Rotterdamse Zaak (Box 4.7), developed at Rotterdam University of Applied Sciences. Students engage with local entrepreneurs to help them solve financial business challenges (De Rotterdamse Zaak, 2015).

Box 4.7. De Rotterdamse Zaak

De Rotterdamse Zaak (DRZ) is aimed at entrepreneurs who are financially unable to find solutions to their problems. The target audience of DRZ are individuals who have been entrepreneurs for at least 1.5 years and who face financial difficulties. Former entrepreneurs (senior coaches) act as a sounding board for the students of Rotterdam University of Applied Sciences (junior coaches). Students of RUAS help the entrepreneurs, learn to give advice on how to improve their business operations – financially and commercially – and help to develop their entrepreneurial skills. DRZ works with the Regionaal Bureau Zelfstandigen (RBZ, a regional bureau for the self-employed) and the Ondernemershuis Zuid (OHZ, a meeting place for nascent entrepreneurs), so that students are properly facilitated and get the training they need to master the skills and competencies required for coaching.

The evaluation criteria for access to the DRZ project is set by Dienst Werk en Inkomen, the regional governmental agency for employment. They look at the entrepreneur’s business plan, their annual statement and credit risk, and decide whether the case should be handed over to the DRZ. One of the criteria for participation in DRZ, for example, is to be refused a credit loan by banks. The activities of students who “work for” DRZ and advise the entrepreneurs are peer coached by alumni students who stay on at the DRZ by means of internships. There are peer coaches for financial and commercial activities, as well as junior advisors and assistant junior advisors (from secondary vocational training). There is a weekly briefing at the Chamber of Commerce where students receive training, for example information on entrepreneurship-relevant regulations. The intake interview with the entrepreneur to assess their eligibility for participation in the project is carried out by a senior coach and junior consultant and involves a problem analysis and a plan of approach. Further practical support and guidance is given by the junior consultants, but there are also coaching consultations.

De Rotterdamse Zaak (DRZ) started in 2012 with less than 100 entrepreneurs, but by 2015 it had helped more than 250 entrepreneurs. Since 2013, about 65 students per year have been active as junior coaches. Up to 2016, a total of 905 entrepreneurs had received advice from students. The University of Groningen carried out a study on the effectiveness of DRZ, based on 100 real cases of entrepreneurs who had received its help. The results show that, in total, DRZ saved EUR 200 million, which equates to approximately EUR 100 000 per entrepreneur in terms of saved bankruptcy costs, welfare costs etc. Recently, DRZ won the prestigious European Enterprise Promotion Award.

Source: Interviews at Rotterdam University of Applied Sciences during the study visit in June 2016.

The De Rotterdamse Zaak has been followed by the Amsterdamse Zaak (involving the Amsterdam University of Applied Sciences and the Municipality of Amsterdam), and the Gelderse Zaak (involving the University of Applied Sciences of Arnhem and Nijmegen and the local government), and more are to come (DNZO, 2017). All these initiatives engage students in problem-based learning which directly benefits their professional skill development, for example in terms of legal and business skills, and their knowledge on entrepreneurial skill building. The initiatives also connect entrepreneurial students with entrepreneurs in informal settings that offer insights into how to run a company. In pedagogical terms, what students (and businesses) learned from one project is shared across the projects.

Entrepreneurship education

Many HEIs in the Netherlands offer entrepreneurship courses and even full entrepreneurship degree programmes. The Accreditation Organisation of the Netherlands and Flanders (NVAO), which carries out quality control of the higher education programmes, introduced, in 2013, the so-called Distinctive Quality Feature Entrepreneurship for higher education programmes (Box 4.8). As of 2017, a number of UAS had obtained the Distinctive Quality Feature Entrepreneurship, as well as one research university, the Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam (See Chapter 1 for more information on this).

Box 4.8. Distinctive Quality Feature Entrepreneurship in Dutch Higher Education

In September 2013, the Accreditation Organisation of the Netherlands and Flanders (NVAO) introduced entrepreneurship as one of four distinctive quality features that can be awarded for entrepreneurship programmes or programme components of at least 25 points in the European Credit Transfer and Accumulation System (ECTS). The other distinctive quality features are: sustainable higher education, internationalisation, and small-scale and intensive education. The assessment is carried out by a panel visiting, preferably linked to a regular assessment. The assessment panel is entirely responsible for the particular feature to be assessed, with a minimum of one member of the panel with a clear link to entrepreneurship, including both theory and practice. The rating is on a four-point scale – insufficient, sufficient, good, excellent - as used in the accreditation system. Once obtained, it will be assessed for re-accreditation every 6 years as part of the regular programme re‐accreditation cycle.

The NVAO employs a broad definition of the concept of entrepreneurship, which enables institutions to justify and test their own choice from the various options to stimulate entrepreneurial thinking and acting. However, it is important that theory and practice are linked and that developments in attitude and behaviour in the field of enterprise are pursued.

Source: NVAO (2013).

Several Dutch research universities have undertaken efforts to bring together science, innovation and business in interdisciplinary entrepreneurship education programmes and course modules. An example is the Science, Business & Innovation (SBI) programme at master’s level at the Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam. The SBI is the only university programme in the Netherlands that has obtained the NVAO’s Distinctive Quality Feature Entrepreneurship (Box 4.8). In 2017, the SBI was accredited as a separate two-year science master’s programme where students specialise either in energy and sustainability or in health and life sciences (Box 4.9).

Box 4.9. Master’s programme in Science, Business & Innovation at the VU

The Science, Business & Innovation (SBI) programme started in 2007 and now enrols 340 students in the three-year bachelor course at the Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam (VU). To date, SBI is the only university programme in the Netherlands to have obtained the NVAO’s Distinctive Quality Feature Entrepreneurship. In 2017, the Master’s SBI was accredited as a separate two-year science master’s programme where students specialise either in energy and sustainability or in health and life sciences.

The rationale behind the SBI programme is based on two observations. Firstly, research shows that industry in R&D intensive sectors has a distinct need for scientists who can bridge the gap between science and business. Secondly, a sizeable group of students with a science and technology mindset are attracted to science-based interdisciplinary programmes rather than mono-disciplinary study programmes.

The formal multi-faculty involvement from economics, business and social sciences, is key to SBI, while the sciences faculty as a managing entity is close to the core of discovery research. To bridge the gap between science and business, experts with a long-standing career in (international) business have been brought in. Another key part of the SBI programmes is the capstone research project that is executed at a research company allowing for immersion of the student in a corporate setting for the duration of four and six months respectively for bachelor’s and master’s degree programmes.

Source: Interviews at Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam during the study visit in July 2016.

Social entrepreneurship

Social entrepreneurship is receiving increasing interest from youth. Many young people would like to take initiative and make the world and their immediate environment a better place for all, but are not necessarily drawn into business-driven entrepreneurship education programmes. The discussion among entrepreneurship researchers of what exactly makes social entrepreneurship different from entrepreneurship (defined as value creation) may have delayed the implementation of specific social entrepreneurship education programmes, but demand continues to grow. At present, 14 HEIs in the Netherlands have active Enactus networks on campus that promote and facilitate social entrepreneurship. Overall, Enactus is present in 36 countries, supporting entrepreneurial (initiating business innovation with integrity and passion), action (the experience of social impact that sparks social enterprise), and us (student, academic and business leaders collaborating to create a better world) (Enactus, 2017).

Future policies for entrepreneurship education

When considering the development of future policies for entrepreneurship education at HEI level, attention needs to be given to the co-ordination of different policy actors. Valuable learning on this issue comes from Denmark (Box 4.10), which has introduced a close cross-ministerial collaboration on entrepreneurship with very positive effects on i) entrepreneurial skills development across all levels of education, ii) a national progression model for entrepreneurship education and training, iii) connecting national and HEI-level research efforts into the impact of entrepreneurship education; and iv) a more coherent and closer co‐ordination across the various local, regional and national initiatives.

Box 4.10. Interministerial collaboration on entrepreneurship in Denmark

In Denmark, gathering all activities and responsibilities within one single organisation, backed up by an interministerial partnership, has proven to be a successful way to implement the strategy. The mission of the Danish Foundation for Entrepreneurship (FFE) is to spread and integrate entrepreneurship education at all levels of the education system.

The organisation, therefore, carries out all those activities, which in some countries are spread across several actors. This organisation of the work enables FFE to harmonise initiatives and activities, to ensure a progression throughout the education system, to gain considerable knowledge in the area and to act as the national knowledge centre on entrepreneurship education.

From the start, monitoring and evaluation was an integrated part of FFE’s activities. Measures to map and assess the impact of entrepreneurship education were determined from the beginning with the purpose to fulfil strategy goals, evaluate the strategy and serve as a basis for policy decisions. The work is discussed and evaluated on an annual basis.

FFE’s goals and indicators for 2015-20 are:

  1. Continue to spread entrepreneurship education in the education system. The goal is for every student to have a practical entrepreneurial experience at least once at every educational level.

  2. Enhance the quality of entrepreneurship education. The goal is to assess this by measuring the number of teachers who have been certified through continuing or further education and training within entrepreneurship teaching.

  3. Increase the knowledge and create more catalysing activities. A possible and measurable indicator for this is to look at the number of students who start up their own business during, and shortly after finishing their education. FFE is continuously working to find better methods for assessing the quality of entrepreneurship education, for instance through the development of new examination forms and tools for measuring the learning outcomes.

At the foundation of FFE’s work lies extensive and long-term research on different ways of teaching entrepreneurship and the impact such education has on students at different education levels. This research activity is part of the strategy’s evaluation/monitoring, because it provides answers on societal effects of the strategy, now and in the years to come.

FFE’s research investigates the teaching of entrepreneurial skills (divided in to non-cognitive or enterprising skills and cognitive or business-oriented skills) and takes into account three different approaches depending on the way, the degree or aim to which these skills are taught/trained at different education levels: teaching about entrepreneurship, teaching through entrepreneurship, and teaching for entrepreneurship.

Basic to this research is the understanding that, in order to increase the impact and to reach the goal that every student acquire entrepreneurial key competences, entrepreneurship education must be embedded in the general education system, and not only be offered through project-based and extra-curricular programmes. This is also helpful to spread the understanding that entrepreneurship as a competence is transversal, useful in every individual’s life, and relevant in all subjects and fields of study, not only in those related to business and starting up a company.

Source: Author’s own work based on Annual Reports (2011-15) of the Danish Foundation for Entrepreneurship.

Lessons learned from the Danish approach are that a closer and more unified approach to entrepreneurship education, not only between the relevant ministries, but also including the HEIs, can greatly improve the numbers and skills of entrepreneurship teachers and the awareness of staff and students of entrepreneurship. A nationwide initiative to improve the entrepreneurial teaching competencies of teachers, for example within the University Teaching Qualification, and building on the existing capacity of research into entrepreneurial pedagogy, could be an effective way forward in developing and refining the current practices and stepping up to the next level of excellency in the field.

If the ministries decide to establish a permanent cross-ministerial collaboration structure, as is the case with the Danish Foundation for Entrepreneurship, the HEIs and their representative organisations should be involved from early on in the design and implementation of support programmes. This would also include individual entrepreneurial champions (teachers, administrative staff and researchers) in the HEIs.

Measuring the impact of entrepreneurship education

The main objective of entrepreneurship education is to stimulate positive entrepreneurial attitudes and behaviours, and various research has shown that entrepreneurship education has the potential to achieve this (Lackéus, 2016; Martin et al., 2012; Moberg, 2014). However, knowledge on how different educational approaches affect different types of pupils and students is still fairly limited. In order to increase understanding, HEIs should design and implement a tracking system of students and alumni to get a better understanding of the outcomes of entrepreneurship education on the entrepreneurial mindsets, knowledge and behaviours of students. Many of the most interesting outcomes only materialise years after the educational intervention and thus, longitudinal tracking is required. At the same time, teachers and practitioners also need valid information about how they influence their pupils and students in the short term, in order to be able to adjust and improve their teaching.

A competency framework to guide entrepreneurship education

The National Foundation for Entrepreneurship in Denmark has developed a national taxonomy of pedagogical practice in entrepreneurship education across different levels of education and disciplines and a competence framework for entrepreneurship (Rasmussen et al., 2015). The overall objective was to identify linkages between the overall purpose of entrepreneurship education, the concrete learning objectives, and the progression of the students.

Such a framework can serve several purposes in supporting entrepreneurship education and training across the whole educational system, including:

  • Differentiation of entrepreneurship learning goals. A better differentiation of learning goals between enterprising skills (non-cognitive) and start-up and business-oriented skills (cognitive) could help to improve course content and steer students towards the courses that best meet their needs. Objectives for the higher education system could also be related to this distinction. It could for example be an objective to increase the uptake of enterprising skills courses from 12% to 50% of students and reduce the adoption goal for business-oriented skills courses from 12% to 8%.

  • Alignment and progression between programmes. A competence framework can also be used to improve alignment and progression between programmes. HEIs often lack an emphasis on planning a good progression of entrepreneurial learning across different programmes. A better understanding of learning outcomes and progression can help participants in selecting the right programmes and enhancing mobility.

  • Identifying the learning outcome. Another step to improving entrepreneurship training programmes is to understand the purpose, learning methodology, pedagogy and outcome of each course, in order to start evaluating, improving and multiplying best practices to other similar situations. Also, it is important to recognise that many courses may carry “entrepreneurship” in the title, without having much of a contribution to enhancing entrepreneurship as a career outcome. This is the case, for example, for many of the corporate entrepreneurship courses, which essentially are more about strategic management.

  • Meaningful indicators. HEIs and the landscapes in which they operate are diverse, implying differentiated entrepreneurship support approaches. Bold quantitative indicators measuring numbers of start-ups, patents, students and courses alone are often sufficient. A more diverse but more qualitative set of outcome measures could be very complementary. For some areas the outcome measures can be generalised into numbers, whereas for others the outcome can be reflected in stories and testimonies.

  • National impact measures. A further important step in advancing the current entrepreneurship support system in HEIs is to connect it with impact research to secure a continuous feedback mechanism aimed at improving current practice. Impact research on entrepreneurship demands substantial resources. Therefore, joint impact research across HEIs has greater promise.

Evaluating impacts on entrepreneurship skills and outcomes

The following section provides an overview of the focus and methods of current evaluation practices and identifies key issues that could be addressed through a national programme for research on the impact of entrepreneurship education activities in higher education. In addition, three tools are presented that have been tested and validated in international studies. These tools leverage the possibilities of ICT technology; they are useful for educators and vastly decrease the costs of performing programme evaluation. Some HEIs in the Netherlands are beginning to take up the challenge and the Dutch Academy of Research in Entrepreneurship (DARE), the Dutch Centres for Entrepreneurship, and the national network of entrepreneurship teachers in UAS form an excellent basis to enhance the research.

Impact studies within the field of entrepreneurship education have traditionally focused on whether or not entrepreneurship education increases the number and quality of business start-ups. In order to assess the short-term effects, many evaluations have focused on how entrepreneurship education influences the entrepreneurial attitudes and intentions of participants. However, this narrow focus has given way to a broader view of the role of entrepreneurship education in stimulating people to act entrepreneurially (Fayolle, 2013). Overall, it can be argued that the focus has shifted from cognitively-oriented entrepreneurial skills such as business planning, evaluation of business ideas, and market analysis, to entrepreneurial skills of a more non-cognitive character such as ambiguity tolerance, resource marshalling, sense of initiative, and creativity (Huber et al., 2014; Moberg, 2014).

However, whereas cognitively-oriented skills can fairly easily be assessed with traditional tests, entrepreneurial skills of a non-cognitive character, such as managing ambiguity and sense of initiative, are much more challenging to assess. Typically, it is also much easier to assess a precise and narrow outcome, such as the number of startups, than changes in non-cognitive skills.

The randomised controlled trail (RCT) methodology is typically viewed as the gold standard of approaches to test the impact of entrepreneurship education on entrepreneurship competences and behaviours. By using control groups and random assignment of the educational “treatment”, many threats to internal validity can be avoided and the number of variables that need to be controlled for can be limited. To randomly allocate entrepreneurship education to students is, however, not always feasible. Most assessment studies within the field have evaluated ongoing entrepreneurship education initiatives. This makes them less reliable since these initiatives suffer from self-selection bias, that is, the participants chose to participate out of interest and therefore may already have intentions to become entrepreneurs. Information on the durability of the impacts is also limited since most studies collect data directly after the intervention.

One way to solve the problem of not being able to randomise participation in the educational programme is to use propensity score matching (PSM). This is a technique developed by Rosenbaum and Rubin during the 1980s which now has wide application. It requires access to detailed information on a large number of individuals, since the technique is based on calculating the probability that an individual is likely to participate in the entrepreneurship education programme conditional on a series of observable covariates. Elert et al. (2015) is an example of a programme evaluation that used PSM in the area of entrepreneurship education, specifically to assess the impact of the Junior Achievement Company Programme, a world-wide initiative which offers students aged 15-18 the opportunity to experience running their own company for one academic year and to discover first-hand how a company functions. The researchers had access to very detailed register data on both alumni students and non-alumni students. The methodology involved matching the alumni of the programme to the non-alumni based on multiple variables, hence identifying “twins”, that is, individuals who were as likely to participate in the educational programme as the ones that actually did. This enabled the impact of the programme on the participants to be calculated eleven years after their participation.

Entrepreneurship education has many interesting effects on latent variables and non-cognitive skills, such as managing uncertainty, marshalling resources, and sense of initiative and creativity; but also variables more directly related to education, such as school engagement and educational motivation. Since 2011, researchers at the Danish Foundation for Entrepreneurship have collected longitudinal data on Danish pupils to assess how entrepreneurship education influences these types of latent variables in order to establish the link between these and observable outcomes.

Randomised controlled trials and longitudinal assessment studies are, however, very resource-intense and costly to perform, and they typically only give us information about a limited set of questions. Due to the topic’s increased popularity, there has been an increase in contexts where entrepreneurship education is implemented, and there are many different approaches that are applied. For teachers and practitioners, it is of crucial important to be able to assess how their educational initiatives influence pupils and students in the short term in order to be able to change and adapt their practice. It is important that these practitioners gain access to tangible information that they can apply, and that this information is provided during the implementation. In order to do this, it is important that there are user-friendly assessment tools available.

Evaluating impacts on entrepreneurial mindsets and intentions

Since entrepreneurial mindsets and intentions are typically of a non-cognitive character (Huber et al. 2014) they are difficult to assess with traditional methods. Many evaluation tools have therefore relied on self-assessment. However, the self-assessment process should be based on theoretical frameworks that identify the relevant measures for self-assessment. Albert Bandura’s concept of self-efficacy is an example, namely an individual’s belief in his/her personal capability to accomplish entrepreneurial activities and tasks (Bandura, 1997).

Another approach is the theory of planned behaviour (TPB) (Ajzen, 1991), which is particularly relevant to assessing the impact of entrepreneurship education on the intention to start a business. According to Ajzen (1991), three variables are the main antecedents to intentions: 1) attitudes towards the behaviour, 2) perceived behaviour control, 3) social norms. This assumption makes TPB a very practical framework to apply in assessment studies since it implies focusing on the impact of the entrepreneurship education on attitudes and perceived control of behaviour in particular, while controlling for social norms.

Three potential assessment tools

Three assessment tools are presented below that have been tested and validated in international studies and could be applied in the Netherlands. Each leverages technology, which offers immediate information and automated analysis both increasing the tools’ usefulness to teachers and practitioners and reducing their evaluation costs.

There are some overlaps between the three tools but they answer different questions, focus on different outcomes and thus, fulfil different needs.


OctoSkills is an app-based assessment tool based on the ASTEE survey.1 The focus is on assessing how students and pupils develop their entrepreneurial self-efficacy, that is, their self-confidence in performing entrepreneurial skills and activities, and whether the educational initiative changes their entrepreneurial attitudes and intentions (OctoSkills, 2017). In addition to this, OctoSkills has a strong focus on school engagement and educational motivation and how the students’ and pupils’ relations with classmates and teachers develop. The assessment tool has been developed to be used at primary, secondary and tertiary levels of education. The wording of the questions is neutral, so participants who are not familiar with entrepreneurship will also understand the questions and be able to assess them in a meaningful way. Many assessment scales within the entrepreneurship education field have been developed based on the activities of practicing entrepreneurs. This often makes the wording of the questions very business and startup biased, which makes it complicated for many respondents to understand them, especially respondents at lower levels of education and respondents in control groups.

The analysis is automated, which means that teachers and practitioners get immediate information about their pupils’ or students’ level in the dimensions measured and how they have developed on these dimensions. With an accompanying desktop solution, they, or someone within the school management, will be able to compare the results with other schools and classes as well as other countries and different student types; naturally all participating schools, teachers, students and pupils are anonymous. All results are presented in user-friendly “spider web” diagrams, which makes it easy to compare results and assess how the participants have developed.

For the purpose of assessing the impacts of entrepreneurship education, the surveys can be distributed either as a pre-mid-post survey or as a reciprocal survey. The pre-mid-post survey is distributed before the start of the educational initiative, in the middle of it and after it has been completed. This makes it possible to assess how the participants develop during the programme and not only after it has been completed, which allows the teacher to adjust his or her teaching during the educational initiative. If the educational initiative that needs to be tested is short, the mid-test could be distributed right after the completion of the initiative and the post-test as a follow-up a couple of weeks or months later, in order to assess the “stickiness” of the effect. The reciprocal test, on the other hand, is distributed after an educational initiative has been completed. In this survey type the participants are asked to assess at which level they perceived themselves to be before participating in the educational initiative, and at which level they perceive themselves to be now, after the educational initiative has ended. This survey type is typically useful for educational initiatives that have already started when the decision to assess it is being made.

The OctoSkills tool also includes a questionnaire for teachers. This allows teachers to evaluate how they develop their self-confidence in teaching entrepreneurial education and how their teaching methods develop. The teacher questionnaire also makes it possible for an evaluator to assess how different teachers affect their students and to analyse the influence of different background variables and teaching styles.

With its user-friendly interface and opportunity to access information and results immediately, the OctoSkills tool can be very useful for teachers and schools that wish to evaluate their educational initiatives. Similar to standard questionnaire-based assessment studies, the OctoSkills tool can also be used in large-scale evaluation studies. It has the advantage over “normal” evaluation studies in that it makes it possible to easily follow the participants over a long time period, as identification is not a problem. In addition to this, there is an incentive for participants to participate since they get immediate access to the results. OctoSkills can, thus, be very useful for policy makers who wish to assess large-scale educational initiatives or who want to establish assessment as a natural component in educational initiatives.

The Entrepreneurial Skills Pass

The Entrepreneurial Skills Pass was developed in an international collaboration project co-funded by the EU (ESP, 2017). The main goal of this project was to develop a validated test that can certify the entrepreneurial knowledge of participants in the Junior Achievement Company Programme, an entrepreneurship programme at secondary level which stretches over a whole school year. A student of the Junior Achievement Company Programme who wishes to certify his or her knowledge may apply to take the test. The test draws random questions from various areas of knowledge that have been taught/trained during the Junior Achievement Company Programme. A prerequisite to taking the test is that the student has participated in the self-evaluation survey which has been distributed before and after (pre/post) the educational initiative. If the student succeeds, a certificate of his or her entrepreneurial knowledge will be issued.

The focus of the self-assessment survey is similar to the one in OctoSkills, but has an additional focus on the participants’ perception of entrepreneurs and entrepreneurship. The combination of a self-assessment survey and a standardised test can be used to efficiently assess how the respondent has developed, both regarding non-cognitive entrepreneurial skills and cognitively-oriented entrepreneurial skills; especially if both are distributed in a pre/post manner.

Since ESP is used as a certification of entrepreneurial competence, it is limited to participants in the Junior Achievement Company Programme. This is due to the large variety of approaches to entrepreneurship education that currently exist, and that in order to function as a certificate the educational experience should be standardised. There are also administration costs related to the standardised test and the certification process. The ESP is therefore fee-based, and in order to use it, either the participants, the educational institutions or a third party need to cover the costs involved.

ESP can be very useful from a policy maker’s point of view. Although it can, in principle, be used to evaluate any type of educational initiative at secondary level focusing on entrepreneurship and new venture creation, it is specifically developed to assess and certify students who have participated in the Junior Achievement Company Programme. Given the popularity of the programme and the number of participants in this educational initiative, ESP offers lots of information that can be used to compare the extent to which different countries focus on entrepreneurship education.


LoopMe has a different approach compared to the more traditional pre-test/post-test assessment tools described above (Lackéus 2014). Rather than quantitatively assessing the outcomes of an educational initiative, LoopMe focuses on the activities that take place during the educational initiative. It makes it possible for the teacher to follow the activities of his/her pupils and/or students, also outside the classroom. This is important since many practical activities in entrepreneurship education take place outside school and outside the teacher’s direct supervision. Theoretically, the experience-sampling method that LoopMe applies aligns to the proxy-theory, that is, the assumption that certain activities lead to certain outcomes. Since activities are typically easier to register and measure than their outcomes, it makes good sense to focus on activities.

LoopMe gives pupils and students the opportunity to report situations and events that trigger their emotions. They are asked to answer a short questionnaire about the activities they are performing and how they feel about it. This report is sent to their teachers (anonymously, if they wish). The teachers can then respond to the report. This creates a “loop” of feedback between teacher and student. The “looping” of mutual reflection on the activities makes LoopMe a very effective tool for formative evaluation, both from the student to the teacher and vice versa.

The structure of LoopMe offers multiple possibilities for practitioners and evaluators to assess educational initiatives. The formative feedback that is generated through the “loops” creates a good basis for teachers and practitioners to evaluate and assess their practice. It is, however, a bit more challenging to apply the tool in quantitative evaluations since it is voluntary for the participants to send the reports. Multiple threats to the internal validity thus need to be accounted for when LoopMe is used in its default setting. It can be expected that the participants’ inclination to send in reports are different, depending on multiple factors. This can easily create many unfortunate response biases depending on different factors such as the background of the students, how successful they have been in their activities, how much time has been allocated to the activity, instructions from the teachers about how to use the app, etc. However, if all participants are asked to report their activities at certain time points many of these problems will be solved. This will make it possible to compare different educational initiatives and assess them on the number of activities and which type of activities are performed. Based on this information, it is possible to assess how “entrepreneurial” and challenging the initiative has been and how many opportunities for entrepreneurial learning it has offered. However, the gains regarding increased validity from an assessment point-of-view would come at the expense of the usefulness that LoopMe offers practitioners. The formative feedback that LoopMe makes possible is typically more useful when it is submitted on a voluntary basis.

LoopMe can be very useful in qualitative evaluations of educational initiatives. The evaluator can select who to interview based on the “loops” that the participants have provided and thus select, for example, individuals who have had positive experiences or individuals who have had negative experiences. The “loops” can also be used as “anchors” in the interviews, that is, as experiences that can be discussed and elaborated upon. Recall bias can therefore be avoided to some extent.

LoopMe can thus be very useful to teachers and practitioners, both as an educational tool and as an assessment tool. Its focus on activities supports qualitative evaluations in a very good way. With a structured data collection and a clear evaluation protocol it can also offer a lot of insight into which types of activities are taking place in different educational initiatives. These activities can then be linked to different outcomes that can either be assessed through qualitative methods, longitudinal data or through one of the “pre-test/post-test” based evaluation tools presented above.


A rich and diverse set of learning opportunities for entrepreneurial mindsets is being developed in the Netherlands in many ways. These include capacity building support to teachers and HEIs for innovation in education methods, the creation of digital learning environments, initiatives to promote lifelong learning, the creation of exchange platforms with business and other external stakeholders, empowering students to co-design education programmes, and linking students with the local economy. Entrepreneurship education also has an objective of supporting those students who are interested in starting a business at some time in the future to obtain the necessary competences, including potential social entrepreneurs.

It is important to improve information on the impacts that entrepreneurship education has on developing entrepreneurial mindsets and entrepreneurship behaviours. Various evaluation methods can be used, including random control trials or quasi-experiments using propensity score matching and digital capture of information on the entrepreneurial intentions of students.

HEIs in the Netherlands have embarked on all of these issues and stimulated new forms of teaching and learning. Based on this proactivity and experimentation, there is now an opportunity to look into these issues from a system-perspective and evaluate what has worked best and what lessons can be learned from what individual HEIs have been doing so far.


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← 1. The ASTEE (Assessment Tools and Indicators for Entrepreneurship Education) survey was collaboratively developed by organisations residing in seven countries (Denmark, Ireland, Germany, Portugal, Croatia, France, and Belgium). Questionnaire-based assessment tools for entrepreneurial education at primary, secondary and tertiary levels were developed and tested in 13 countries (in addition to the seven partnering countries it was also tested in: Sweden, the United Kingdom, Italy, Austria, Romania, and Spain).

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