Making hospitality management programmes relevant to industry : 'a case study'.
There has been a considerable debate in recent years about the 'fit' between
hospitality management education and the needs of the hospitality and tourism
industries, with allegations of disproportionate 'wastage' of vocationally labour
market entrants to other sectors of the economy.
This study began by outlining the evolution of hospitality education in the UK. The
study then reviewed models of vocational education and discussed their relevance to
hospitality management education. A discussion of the effects of political, industrial
and educational debate has been included.
A case study has provided an historical review of the evolution of the BA Honours
Degree in Hospitality Business Management in an important FHE college, which is
the largest single provider of hospitality education in the UK. The study goes on to
highlight the transition of graduates into the workplace from 1992 to the present time.
The first sections of the study were completed using exhaustive secondary research
carried out using all of the library resources at my disposal. The case study was
achieved using primary research techniques of questionnaire and follow-up interviews
with the graduates and with senior programme administrators from the college. Use
of the Dillman (1977) method ensured an exceptionally high response rate to the
questionnaire, although it is probably true that my power-distance relationship with
the respondents also had a positive effect on the response rate. The researcher also
believes that the responses received from the graduates truthfully reflected their views
on the questions asked.
The final section of this dissertation discusses and analyses the results of the primary
research and this is the major innovative part of the work. During the course of the
research, a number of themes emerged, and the discussion is aligned with these
themes, providing a framework for the analysis.
The content of the courses, comprising the four-year programme were generally seen
as appropriate by the respondents. However, a number of possible changes were
identified which might improve the programme. One surprising result was that it
emerged that no change would be needed to fit graduates for the industry for the next
decade. A second surprise was the low ranking given to information technology and
numeracy by the respondents. This must surely be a misconception by the graduates
and this finding is in need of further research.
The term 'graduateness' was generally little understood by the respondents.
However, once they were familiarised by the meaning underpinning the term, they did
comprehend that graduate skills were of considerable importance. Indeed their
understanding of graduate skills related very closely to those defined NAB (1986).
However, the discussion of their evaluation of numeracy has already been outlined.
Not surprisingly, there was considerable overlap between discussion of course content
and teaching methods. However, it is important to mention that one of the main
issues arising was that of the use of information technology and multimedia in course
delivery. This research has found that these methods are seen to be of growing importance for communication and dissemination of information between students.
industrialists and educationalists in the hospitality industry, being a truly world-wide
One major area of discussion which has arisen in my research is the industrial
placement experience. An important finding has been that despite whether the
students had received a successful industrial placement experience or not, almost all
agreed that industrial placement experience was an essential component of the
programme. In fact the research identified that industrial placement is so important,
that the government should consider funding research to investigate the value added
to students on vocational programmes, with a view to extending the benefits to other
subject areas before they undertake primary cost reduction by cutting funding for
industrial placement in hospitality management programmes.
With regard to employment issues, there were three issues that arose. First, the
changing character of the hotel industry, which is likely to provide less opportunity
for management development for graduates. Nevertheless, the research identified
despite this trend that a very large percentage of graduates were still finding
employment in hotels at the present time. Second, the limited language skills of UK
graduates, which the research considers as an important negative factor for UK
graduates in a time of globalisation and EU aggregation. Finally, UK educational
institutions depend to some extent upon recruitment of students from overseas (full
fee paying). The recessionary developments in the global economy, especially in the
Far East, should give cause for some alarm by UK universities and colleges in this