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Mature Students Make Brilliant Innovators

I’m knackered.

Why? Because it’s ten o’clock in the evening and I’m just home having delivered over six hours of workshops and driven over one hundred miles in the process (well…technically my colleague Liz was doing the driving, but I was giving some directions!)

For the past fortnight the SIE team have been delivering Module 1 of our Innovation Programme to over 300 students across every campus of The University of the West of Scotland. This included two trips to Dumfries, Hamilton and Paisley, as well as a great session in Coatbridge, and another at the beautiful UWS campus in Ayr.

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Students from a wide range of backgrounds have chosen to take a course (titled ‘Get Into Enterprise’), which focuses on creating new business ideas and learning how to turn these into a workable business model. We were delighted to be asked to deliver a core session as part of this ambitious UWS course.

The thing that stands out for me during this past fortnight is how much I’ve enjoyed working with mature students. Never a group to be written off, the mature students are actively looking to improve their employability prospects, often seeking a change of career, or re-employment after a redundancy. Others are back at university and taking evening classes with an aim to getting promotions and better responsibilities in their current jobs. This is action to be admired.

The fact that many of these students have more working experience than me means that they’re already equipped with some of the critical skills required to be an entrepreneurial graduate. They’re coming into the classroom ready to innovate for organisations, or to start businesses of their own. All they need is some guidance, and some practice using the framework we have designed. Over the past couple of weeks I’ve been challenged by them and found them to be highly engaged with the process. On the whole they have shown great communication and leadership skills within their groups, as well as being able to see the bigger picture.

So yes, I may be tired, but I’m actually looking forward to an early start tomorrow to deliver the last of our sessions in Paisley to another group of students eager to get into enterprise… To be honest though, I’m glad that our Programme Director, Ann Davidson, is doing the talking tomorrow: I think I need a rest… Good night.

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