By Claire West

A study by the National Council for Graduate Entrepreneurship (NGCE) and the Institute for Small Business and Entrepreneurship (ISBE) has highlighted the University of Central Lancashire as a national leader in entrepreneurial support.

The report details how the landscape for enterprise and entrepreneurship in higher education is changing and analyses if students are engaging in learning and development opportunities in enterprise.

The total number of Higher Education respondents to the survey was 116, representing 1.815 million students.

The headline figure from the study defines the national average of start-up businesses created by Higher Education institutions as 28. Impressively, 131 students businesses have been set up in the past year, highlighting UCLan students as leaders in enterprise.

Many of these firms are housed across UCLan's Preston, Burnley and Westlake's campus business incubators which offers young entrepreneurs mentoring, advice clinics, networking opportunities and many other services.

Bede Mullen, director of UCLan's Knowledge Transfer Service, said: "The results of this study are a further demonstration of the University's continued excellence in supporting the talented future of the North West.

"The Knowledge Transfer Service's overriding objective is to share the knowledge the University of Central Lancashire has with the business community, help them innovate and to develop an all important edge, ensuring the region continues to be a hot bed of entrepreneurial activity."

UCLan has also been nominated in the Entrepreneurial University of the Year category of the critically acclaimed Times Higher Education Awards 2010. The winners will be announced at an awards dinner at the prestigious Grosvenor House Hotel, London on Thursday, November 25.

This nomination is the latest in a line of award bodies to recognise the outstanding contribution by UCLan to student start-up businesses. The most recent acknowledgment was from the Higher Education Business and Community Interaction Survey (HEBCIS) which named UCLan as one of the foremost entrepreneurial universities nationally and number one in the North West.

UCLan was also recognised in the Times Higher Education Leadership and Management Awards earlier this year, receiving an award for an Outstanding Knowledge Transfer initiative called Urban Regeneration: Making a difference.

UCLan, along with Northumbria University, Manchester Metropolitan University and The University of Salford, delivered the Making a Difference initiative which saw over 200 academics tackle a variety of social issues in Preston, Salford, Manchester and Newcastle.