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Students gain a head-start with the Illuminate: nextgen challenge

"We want to impart a meaningful and inspiring learning experience."

Deakin Business School (DBS) has partnered with illuminate Education, a multi-award-winning enterprise education organisation, to deliver the illuminate:nextgen Challenge.

During the week-long competition, students from a number of secondary schools attended Deakin University and worked in teams to generate social enterprise business plans that have the potential to solve a problem in the community.

Kim Watty, Deputy Dean, says that with the support of Deakin academic staff and industry representatives, participants not only developed fantastic business plans, but also learnt about forecasting financials, created marketing collateral and gave an impressive oral presentation.

‘The challenge was designed to impart a meaningful and inspiring learning experience, to ignite students’ interest and excite them about the world of business. This excitement was evidence in the presentations from every team.

‘Delivering this program on campus also served as an important immersion opportunity for prospective students, highlighting both Deakin facilities and the expertise and enthusiasm of academic staff currently teaching at DBS.’

Feedback received from students throughout the week was overwhelmingly positive, with some participants noting that they chose to participate in the challenge to become familiar with the facilities, staff and student life at their future university of choice.

Bachelor of Commerce course director, Associate Professor Kerrie Bridson, attributes the enthusiasm of participants to the engaging nature of the challenge and explains that these types of activities provide an opportunity for students to gain a valuable combination of employability and discipline skills.

‘Participants worked in dynamic and agile teams to develop a business case for a social enterprise, which had to meet an area of need in our global community.

‘It was astounding to see that students, in just one week, got a taste of accounting, marketing, sales, human resource management and so forth,’ she says.

Skills gained during the challenge are designed to not only be useful for running a business, but also to help with stress and team management, independent learning, budgeting, planning, creative thinking and public speaking.  

Assoc Prof. Bridson says that the expertise gained will impact students for the rest of their schooling and working lives.

‘To complement their experience, participants also developed an appreciation for what DBS fosters in our graduates: ‘being a global citizen’, ‘teamwork’, ‘ambassadorial qualities’, ‘digital literacy’ and ‘problem solving’.

‘It was an invaluable experience for students to see what University life is like and involved staff members were also inspired by the next generation of students making their journey through secondary school towards higher education,’ Assoc. Prof. Bridson says.

For more information about the challenge, visit the illuminate Education website.

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