Those in charge of business and management courses across the UK cannot afford to stand still. Britain has been developing into a nation of entrepreneurs for the last 20 years, but the process is now snowballing.
Nearly half of the 16 and 17-year-olds who are thinking of taking a business and management degree see themselves as running their own business after graduating, according to a survey by the Association of Business Schools (ABS). That is because many of them are shunning multinational companies. Big corporations are not just the target of anti-capitalist protestors; they are also seen increasingly as the kind of places where bright and successful children do not want to work.
"This is a startling figure and appears to signal a move away from the trend of most youngsters wanting to work for big-name, multi-national corporations," says Jonathan Slack, ABS chief executive.
"Perhaps the influence of role models such as Richard Branson and the Government's positive stance in support of entrepreneurship in Britain are having an effect on the way young people view their future."
It is not a case of Britain's students turning towards a traditional future of a "nation of shopkeepers". Their drive is towards the modern, dynamic sectors of business and technology. They believe that a determination to succeed - allied with a good business and management degree - will give them a head start in the race for the plum graduate jobs.
The popularity of business and management courses is unquestionable. These courses have consistently topped the charts for university applications, with 104,180 students applying for a place this coming September. Although that is a 15 per cent drop on last year, there are more than seven times as many students studying business and management degrees as the more fashionable media studies courses.
The business for business students is, therefore, booming. Universities and colleges are setting themselves up to attract as many of these bright- eyed students as they can. They are also looking to recruit the thousands of senior and middle managers in industry who want to gain an edge on their competitors by taking short courses.
Some of the courses sound positively wacky. Manchester Business School (MBS) has garnered headlines for its "horse whispering" technique to business management tutoring. Following the Robert Redford film The Horse Whisperer, the school has begun to incorporate horse whisphering principles into leadership courses.
The theory is simple: like horses, humans need sensitive handling. They need to be treated with respect. If they are trampled all over, they will do the job but they won't necessarily do so willingly or in the most creative way. And they certainly won't like the person barking orders. …