1.1   Background to the Study

There is an on-going debate as to whether an entrepreneur is born or can be created through entrepreneurial education (Henry, Hill and Leitch, 2005). Vivarelli and Santarelli (2007) stated that the entrepreneurial personality can be described as follows: “innovative, flexible, dynamic, risk-taking, creative and growth-oriented”. Drucker (1985) on the other hand argued that the viewpoint that one is either born with or without an entrepreneurial personality is false. Instead he concludes that all successful entrepreneurs had made a “commitment to the systematic practice of innovation” (Drucker, 1985). The belief that the entrepreneur can be created is furthered with the idea that this systemic approach can be fostered through entrepreneurial education.

In Europe, policymakers have indentified education as an instrumental factor in developing entrepreneurship. The European Commission in 2006 published the “Oslo Agenda for Entrepreneurship Education in Europe” to ensure that EU members were focused towards increasing entrepreneurial education. According to the European Commission (2008), “Entrepreneurial programmes and modules offer students the tools to think creatively, be an effective problem solver, analyse a business idea objectively, and communicate, network, lead, and evaluate any given project.” By encouraging entrepreneurship in this manner, there is an underlying assumption that policy makers believe that entrepreneurial skills can be taught.

Government backed entrepreneurial programs are also increasing, which demonstrates that there is a belief at an administrative level that this type of education has positive social and economic results. As Edelman, Manolova and Brush (2008) stated, entrepreneurship is a “major public policy concern because of [its] impact on economic growth, particularly job creation.” The society and the business world require and demands entrepreneurial competencies, which place more stress on the individual’s attitudes and skills than before (Taatila, 2010) and that it is of interest to study how entrepreneurial education affects the attitudes and motivations of those undertaking this types of programs. It is now widely recognized in education that it is important to promote entrepreneurial attitudes and behaviour. Moreover that Europe must stimulate the entrepreneurial mindset and encourage innovative business and new start-ups (European Commission, 2009). Attitude and motivation have an important role as they have been reported as the most critical factors for success in learning (Ushida, 2005). There is also widespread perception that motivation is the most important factor in educational success in general (Dörnyei, 2001 cited in Ushida, 2005).

Entrepreneurial development is a key focus on any government’s agenda due to the fact that it has been shown to provide solutions for a country’s social and economic problems. Empirical data shows that the development of enterprise within a country can create wealth for the country by lowering unemployment levels, reducing the dependence on welfare and generate tax revenue for the country (Carter and Wilton, 2006). Governments can take direct policies to promote entrepreneurship within their country ranging from financial initiatives to educational training (Dana, 2000). Carter and Wilton (2006) discuss the importance of entrepreneurial education in government policy citing the example that “just making finance available without the training on its proper management is inadequate”. It can therefore be seen that there is a growing desire not only for entrepreneurship within a region but also entrepreneurial education.

Entrepreneurial education is continually increasing in developed countries with the level of courses provided at higher educational institutes greater than ever (Matlay, 2008). According to Chell and Allman (2003), “over the last two decades there has been an increase in the number of courses and programmes aimed at entrepreneurship and enterprise.” There has also been an increase of entrepreneurial education in developing nations with focus on using entrepreneurship as a method of economic development in these regions (van der Sluis, van Praag, and Vijverberg, 2005). As Falkäng, Kyro and Ulijn (2000) state, the past twenty years have witnessed an enormous growth in the number of entrepreneurship courses at different educational levels.‟ There are many forms of entrepreneurial education ranging from pre-university entrepreneurial education at both a primary and secondary level and also both publically funded and privately funded entrepreneurial programs at both a local and national level (Peterman and Kennedy, 2003).

This paper focuses on entrepreneurial education in a university environment as there is existing literature in this field from which we aim to add to this knowledge. In addition one of the main objectives of university based entrepreneurial programs is to increase the desirability of students to initiate their own enterprise. From Gorman, Hanlon & King’s (1997) 10 year review of university based entrepreneurial programs, they concluded that “there is preliminary evidence that entrepreneurial attributes can be positively influenced by educational programs and that many entrepreneurship programs and courses are able to build awareness of entrepreneurship as a career option and to encourage favourable attitudes toward entrepreneurship”. However the literature has not moved forward from this preliminary evidence in the following thirteen years. The European Commission have acknowledged that there is a consensus that entrepreneurship education has a major role to play in the development of entrepreneurial attitudes (Li, Zhang and Matlay, 2003), but this is on a broader level rather than just a university level. Therefore, this study shall investigate the effect of formal education on entrepreneurship in Nigeria.

1.2   Statement of the Problem

While the practical importance of entrepreneurship and its relation to entrepreneurial education is evident, there is clearly a knowledge gap when it comes to the theoretical perspective on this. The literature to date focuses mainly on what characteristics an entrepreneur needs to be successful. It also discusses the importance of entrepreneurship for the society and its need for economic growth. Entrepreneurial education is being used as a tool to increase the level of entrepreneurship but at present little literature exists showing how the attitudes and motivations of the students taking the program are affected when it comes to assessing their desirability of starting their own organisation.

1.3   Research Objectives

The objective of this study is to investigate the effect of formal education on entrepreneurship in Nigeria. However, the specific objectives are:

i)             To investigate the importance of formal education on entrepreneurship in Nigeria

ii)           To study the relationship between entrepreneurship education and entrepreneurship intention

iii)         To examine the prevalence of formal education on entrepreneurship in Nigerian Universities

1.4   Research Questions

The following are some of the questions which this study intends to answer:

i)             What are the importances of formal education on entrepreneurship in Nigeria?

ii)           What is the relationship between entrepreneurship education and entrepreneurship intention?

iii)         What is the prevalence of formal education on entrepreneurship in Nigerian Universities

1.5   Research Hypotheses 

The following shall be the research hypotheses to be tested:

i)             There is no significant relationship between formal education and entrepreneurship development.

ii)           There is no significant correlation between formal education and entrepreneurship intention.

1.6   Significance of the Study

The findings of this study will help determine the relationship between formal education and entrepreneurship. This study will be beneficial in highlighting the importance of formal education on entrepreneurship and its impact on unemployment reduction in Nigeria. One of the SDG (Sustainable Development Goal) goals highlights education (training) as a critical factor to reducing poverty and dependency. Allow the identification of the concept and framework of entrepreneurship. It will also be beneficial in the area of development and its contribution to Nigeria’s economy as well as generating greater awareness among tertiary institutions on the importance of having proper and practical strategies for acquiring entrepreneurial skills.

1.7   Scope of the Study

This study will be carried out among the undergraduate students of University of Lagos. Information collected from these workers shall be subjected to further analysis and the results got from it shall be final.

1.8   Limitation of the study

The study will be faced with a lot of challenges and one it the problem of finance. There is not going to be enough funds to print questionnaires and to also transport the researcher to meet the desired respondents. Another one is time; the researcher is currently busy with the demand of his academics. A lot of assignments are available for the researcher to do and coupled with his desire to read and learn at the same time. These are the major challenges of this study.

1.9   Definitions of Terms      

The following terms were used in the course of this study:

Entrepreneurship: The capacity and willingness to develop organize and manage a business venture along with any of its risks in order to make a profit. 

Entrepreneurship education: it seeks to provide students with the knowledge, skills and motivation to encourage entrepreneurial success in a variety of settings. Variations of entrepreneurship education are offered at all levels of schooling from primary or secondary schools through graduate university programs.