RMIT defends changes to flagship entrepreneurship course

RMIT has rejected criticism from students over its decision to alter its flagship entrepreneurship course.


The Melbourne-based university is revamping its business and management courses in 2012 to provide a “common structure” to undergraduates.


The change means that its Bachelor of Business in Entrepreneurship degree, which has an intake of around 65 students a year, has been altered from its present structure which has 14 subjects specifically related to entrepreneurship, eight core business subjects and two electives.


From now on, students completing the degree will do eight “common core” business subjects and eight on entrepreneurship.


They can then choose to do a major in entrepreneurship and combine it with other subjects, such as marketing, accountancy or finance.


However, several students have railed against the overhaul, utilising social media sites such as Twitter to vent their frustrations.


The student complaints have been led by RMIT alumni Samuel Johns, who authored a blog called The death of entrepreneurship at RMIT.


In the post, Johns accuses RMIT of “ripping the heart” out of the entrepreneurship degree, adding: “Dispersing the entrepreneurial thinkers among the masses is going to essentially cause the current applied entrepreneurial thinking at RMIT to die of a slow death, to societies (sic) detriment.”


“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.”


George Cairns, head of the school of management at RMIT, insists that young entrepreneurs will now get a better course at the university, adding that they don’t need to be “hothoused” with other entrepreneurship students in order to succeed.


“The changes will provide more commonality, rationality and flexibility to students, who often apply under a misconception over what the course involves,” he says.


“Entrepreneurial ideas should be more widely available. This will enable students to develop skills more broadly and allow entrepreneurial students to have greater exposure to business practices.”


“When you come to study entrepreneurialism straight from school, you don’t really understand what it means. You need to understand a broad range of business areas and, if you don’t become an entrepreneur after university, employers will be looking for that broad range of skills.”


Cairns says that there will be a consultation period before the changes are introduced in 2012. He says that the feedback so far has been mixed, with some former students supportive of the changes.


Full disclosure: Amanda Gome, founder and publisher of StartupSmart, is an adjunct professor at RMIT.


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