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23 January 2012

Funding to put universities at the heart of social change

Students and staff to benefit from an embedded social entrepreneurship culture across the higher education sector.

UnLtd, the UKs largest provider of support for social entrepreneurs and the HEFCE are today launching a further programme of support for social entrepreneurship in English universities and colleges.

The initiative will help universities and colleges to develop their support structures for social entrepreneurship, making it easier for students and staff to start up a social venture and thrive within the higher education environment. The programme aims to encourage a social entrepreneurship culture across the HE sector.

Supported by a 1million investment from HEFCE, the 18-month programme, will develop relevant resources, expertise and infrastructure which will support the social entrepreneurial activities of staff and students.

Later in the spring, UnLtd will call for proposals to identify up to 25 universities and colleges as key partners for the programme. UnLtd will work with these partner HEIs to share expertise and knowledge in identifying and supporting social entrepreneurs in the HE sector. They will receive private sector support through the UnLtd Connect service, matching each university and college with a network of local business professionals who volunteer their expertise to support and advise social entrepreneurs. Participating institutions will need to match any investment given by the scheme.

There will also be a number of opportunities for all HEFCE-funded universities and colleges to share good practice, and a range of resources to help them support social entrepreneurs from among their staff and students.

The new programme follows the success of the Higher Education Social Entrepreneurship Awards, which saw 200 social ventures established in 70 higher education institutions (HEIs) between 2009 and 2011.

Cliff Prior, UnLtd CEO, said:

'Social entrepreneurs are at the heart of a global revolution of social commitment by traditional business. We are delighted to be joining forces with HEFCE to create an initiative that will directly empower HEIs themselves to create a wider culture of social entrepreneurship. We will be helping to remove the barriers from starting up a project or scaling their social venture up to the next level.'

David Sweeney, Director of Research, Innovation and Skills at HEFCE, said:

'Our previous collaboration with UnLtd, allowed us to see firsthand how social entrepreneurship adds value to the higher education sector through knowledge exchange, staff development or enhanced teaching. The job market remains tough, and the successor programme is a great opportunity for graduates as they get the chance to gain practical business and leadership skills, which are essential to future careers. It is going to be an exciting 18 months for all those involved.'

For more information about the programme and to register your interest, visit