In early 2007 whilst cutting grass on golf greens and dreaming up big ideas, I decided it was time to educate myself on business. Not really being excited about your standard management course, I realized it was going to be a challenge to find something to keep me engaged and inspired to learn. It turned out RMIT had this great program for entrepreneurs to learn the required skills in business whilst also honing their own idea/concept, and granting academic credit. Awesome right? Well awesome for those who got in early enough to enjoy and learn from the program, however the higher powers up in the 30,000ft Ivory Tower of RMIT are now, essentially ripping the heart out of the program. As a result doing a disservice to both the local entrepreneurship community in Melbourne and young aspiring entrepreneurs wanting to grow, develop and practice their craft in Melbourne
What is the entrepreneurship program at RMIT?
Academic Version: The Bachelor of Business in Entrepreneurship (BBE) currently has 14 subjects specifically related to entrepreneurship and entrepreneurial thinking, 8 core business subjects, and 2 electives to make up the 24 subjects required to complete the degree.
Real World Version: A vibrant dynamic learning environment where the people are the most important ingredient for fostering and creating the inspiring learning environment. A place where passionate action orientated young individuals thrive and achieve their desires. The courses are the raw base materials required to help fuel innovative discussion and real business outcomes, including products/services, customers and revenue, not just good academic results like most theory focused degrees. Questioning the outputs? The results speak for themselves: James Masini (HippoJobs.com.au), Campbell King & Valjean Boynton (Kegs on Legs), Paul Rogash (Escalated Advertising), Alistar Mckendrick (Exhibit Furniture), Ross Hill (Yabble, The Hive), James Sanders (The Hive, Deloitte) Ned Dwyer (The Hive, Native Digital). There are plenty more not mentioned here….
What is happening? What are the future plans? What will 2012 bring?
Academic Changes: As of 2012 the core degree in Entrepreneurship at RMIT will no longer exist in its current form. 7 of the 14 core entrepreneurial classes are being cut entirely from the School of Management and will no longer be offered at RMIT period. The remaining 7 subjects will be baked into a general business degree allowing people doing accounting, management, marketing, to receive a minor in entrepreneurship..
Real World Changes: The core value of attraction to the entrepreneurship program is being taken away with the separation of young innovative thinkers and spreading them amongst the masses. Entrepreneurs love to surround themselves with other self-motivating passionate people and with the new program structure this will no longer occur and will act as a real disadvantage to students. RMIT is great university and serves many people well with a high standard of education. However, on this occasion they are driving blind with tunnel vision on revenue generation and optimization of their business model.
Resulting in a poorer student learning experience. What does a poor learning experience look like for a young innovator? Picture a young passionate entrepreneur ready to start building his product and start changing the world, sitting in a large lecture theater with 500 other students. The majority being international students who just arrived in Australia and struggle to speak a word of English let alone engage interesting conversation regarding the content of the class, this is not their fault, it is the universities.
(Previous comment is in no disrespect to international students as they bring a lot of value to the Australian classroom. The statement is speaking more to the greed of Australian universities filling places with students not able to cope with the learning environment more from a language perspective, than an intellectual one. Which results in students failing and having to take classes multiple times to pass their degree, this is a whole other story in its self for another day.)
The other section of the class is filled with people who are passionate about number crunching at a fortune 500, climbing the corporate management ladder and quite simply have different goals for their university experience, compared to young entrepreneurs. Dispersing the entrepreneurial thinkers amongst the masses is going to essentially cause the current applied entrepreneurial thinking at RMIT to die of a slow death, to societies detriment. Entrepreneurs are important for fueling economy to grow with job creation and the ability to solve problems with new solutions. Their drive, leadership abilities, and innovative thinking is a real asset in the future of our country and the world.
Why is it bad?
Young entrepreneurs opportunity to experience a robust education in entrepreneurship in Melbourne are depleting from an already limited list of quality programs. Not to mention RMIT jeopardizing its great reputation as a hands on applied learning educator. RMIT was the founding program for entrepreneurship in Australia and is ranked number 1 in Australia,12th in the world for the discipline. *This meant other programs such as Victoria, Swinburne and Deakin University have all looked up to RMIT as golden child and copied the model that RMIT spent so much time perfecting. Which is actually a good thing to have these programs still in place, however there are number of great professors and adjunct professors/entrepreneurs at RMIT that are be highly valuable in these programs. But out of pride will most likely not go and work for the people who copied their founding work. We can only hope that they stay passionate about teaching young entrepreneurs and will continue their craft in some form at RMIT or move to another university in the area.
*RMIT’s model is very similar to Babson, so there may have been some copying on RMIT’s part also.
What young entrepreneurs should do?
1) Start your company forgetting about the formal education piece of the puzzle and surround yourself with smart people to learn from and model off their business models with a strong support network.
2) Enroll into RMIT study all the core entrepreneurship classes, once you have completed all the core classes go on exchange to Babson College (Boston), immerse yourself in an entrepreneurial culture whilst meeting the requirements for your RMIT units.
3) Go to Swinburne, Victoria, or Deakin University for your entrepreneurial education. Swinburne has a great reputation with a strong program and Deakin is apparently the dark horse with a great program and great people.
4) Get a job with an Awesome Melbourne Tech Startup
That is my personal view on the situation for young innovators in Melbourne and the impact it may have on the Melbourne entrepreneurial community.
What do you think about entrepreneurial education and what RMIT is doing?
The teachings of entrepreneurship come through actually doing things and putting the simple principles into practice. In Camron Herold’s TED talk, the example he uses all relate to common sense principles of Entrepreneurship applied at any level.
Some of the key points:
- Allowances teach kids the wrong habits. It teaches them to look for a regular job which will give them a regular pay check.
- Don’t read your kids bed time stories all the time, get them to tell stories. Give them random products and get them to tell stories about them, which increase there creativities.
- Teach your kids about bad employees, when you see someone in the super market who is a bad employee, call it out and build the skills up for them to identify good quality talent.
- Teach them to sell with Kajiji or ebay. Collect all the outgrown toys laying around the house and teach your kids to wheel and deal them online.
How will you raise your kids?
As a kid I used to watch the Naked Chef, (Jamie Oliver) all the time. A great cooking TV show, teaching simple dishes to cook in an informative way. Following on from the Naked Chef was the initiative called “Fifteen” which gave unemployed youth aged between 16-24 an opportunity to be trained and work in a professional kitchen with Jamie Oliver. Fifteen is now a fully fledged commercial operated business with 4 restaurants open across the world, with 3 in Europe and 1 in Australia. Jamie is passionate about food and how it impacts the lives of people, which you will be able to see in this TED talk. Personally after spending some time in the US college environment at Babson College, I totally agree with Jamie’s sentiment towards teaching kids about food. Enjoy the talk and feel free to comment.