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“Driven by the experience of my own education I have formed a deep belief in ‘doing’ as the foundation of all learning” Robert Goodsell

In 2011 Robert Goodsell and Alison Fletcher founded the social enterprise company Akatemia whose mission is to facilitate the creation of 10 units operating on Team Academy principles in the UK within 10 years.

The principles of Team Academy are deceptively simple.   There are no classrooms, lecturers or academic ‘subjects’.  All learning is self-directed and working for customers is the engine which drives the process of seeking out knowledge.  Each participant joins a team and has a financial stake in the limited company set up for the duration of the study programme. The task of the team is to devise products and services, find customers and deliver work which meets customer expectations, and generates profit.   The team and its business provide the context for learning, and developing a sophisticated set of team-working behaviours is just one of the challenges members face.  Targets (financial and academic) and risks are shared; collaboration is essential and if one member fails to perform the impact is felt by the whole team. This encourages a strong sense of shared responsibility.

Beneath the surface is a robust theoretical framework based on a socio-constructivist philosophy and a matrix of processes and outputs that ensures rigour and quality in the assessment of students.

Team Academy was conceived in 1993 at the nadir of one Finnish city’s economic fortunes.  Manufacturing in Jyväskylä had collapsed, following the disappearance of its traditional markets in the Soviet Union, and graduates were being educated for a jobless future.  Then a creative, dynamic marketing lecturer at Jyväskylä Polytechnic placed an advert on a notice-board which was to change the world for the youngsters who answered it:  “Twenty students needed to have fun, travel the world and learn some marketing on the way.”

Twenty years later these first graduates of Team Academy – many now prominent figures in Jyväskylä’s resurgent enterprise culture – are part of a passionate community of young people committed to taking Team Academy to the rest of Europe.  They want to share what they’ve discovered about learning to run a business:   making it real makes newly-learned behaviours stick.

Now this way of working is on offer to undergraduates in the UK with degree programmes at Northumbria University (Newcastle Business School), University of West of England (Bristol Business School), Falmouth University and Lincoln Bishop Grosseteste.  A further programme will open at the University of Westminster in 2016.

Watch the Video – Team Academy Comes to the UK