In 2010 the University of Northampton set a strategic goal to be Britain’s leading university for social enterprise by 2015. In 2013 (two full years ahead of schedule) Ashoka U, the world’s leading network of social entrepreneurs, awarded the University of Northampton the international accolade of ‘Changemaker Campus’, in recognition of our commitment to social enterprise and the excellence of the opportunities this commitment gives to our students.

We’re the first university in the UK and Europe to achieve this honour, and one of only 24 in the world with the ‘Changemaker’ designation, joining prestigious institutions such as Brown University, The University of Colorado and Tulane University. We define social enterprise as using market disciplines to achieve a social outcome driven by social values. The University of Northampton’s social enterprise work is underpinned by three very clear values:

  • we will provide a unique student experience of the very highest quality, developing both theoretical and practical competence in social enterprise that prepares the leading social entrepreneurs of the future
  • we will encourage, support and develop entrepreneurial skills and enterprising attitudes among our students, our staff, and the members of the communities we work with
  • we will deliver a fairer and more inclusive society

As a university we are ‘living’ these values through seven key social enterprise initiatives:

  • a unique student experience that builds on our Changemaker Campus commitment – enabling all students to develop the skills required to stand out in the employment market and to be the change leaders of the future
  • the integration of social enterprise with teaching and research – all of our courses, research opportunities and extracurricular activities build social enterprise and innovation competence within our students as well as offer competitive degree qualifications
  • nationwide support for social enterprise – our Inspire2Enterprise service provides comprehensive customer focused and market driven support to new and existing social entrepreneurs and enterprises
  • investment in social enterprises – where we identify social enterprise activities that provide both exceptional placement opportunities for students and make life better and fairer, we will invest in them
  • evolution of University support functions to social enterprises – we will examine each of our support services, and where possible run them as social enterprises, providing services to the University community on a commercial basis while also fulfilling a clear social purpose
  • creating a fairer society for all – working with a wide range of partners we develop socially innovative ways of transforming the lives of everyone for the better – whether that is through influencing the private sector, transforming public sector service delivery or building capacity in the social enterprise sector
  • influencing policy and practice – using our knowledge and experience we will influence the policy and practice of social enterprise in the UK and beyond

Delivering these seven social enterprise initiatives means our students have unique opportunities to develop high level work place and entrepreneurial skills that will help them stand out in their future careers, whatever they decide to do.