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Title: The value of tourism degrees : an investigation of the tourism industry's views on tourism degrees and tourism graduates
Author: Petrova, Petia
Awarding Body: University of Bedfordshire
Current Institution: University of Bedfordshire
Date of Award: 2008
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The rapid expansion of tourism degrees over the last 30 years has been fuelled by the expansion of Higher Education, the popularity of tourism as an area of study, and the attraction of tourism careers. However, the tourism industry has not always been involved in these developments, nor appreciative of tourism degrees. Tourism employers have suggested that tourism graduates do not meet their needs, and voiced concern about the relevance of tourism degrees. Yet, there has not been a comprehensive study which explores employers' perceptions of the value of tourism degrees. This thesis aims to address this by providing an in-depth exploration of how tourism employers perceive the value of tourism degrees. To achieve this aim, a mixed method approach was adopted. A qualitative approach to this study was employed in its first stage. The findings from this stage were used to inform the second quantitative stage. The results indicate that the perceived value of tourism degrees is based on both its employment relevance and academic status. From an employment perspective, the majority of jobs available to graduates are entry level jobs which do not require holding a degree. These jobs are often customer facing, with what employers term as 'personality' being considered a key requirement. Tourism degrees are not seen to contribute to graduates meeting this requirement. Rather, they are seen to contribute to gaining knowledge of the industry, which incidentally is low on the employers' list of requirements. The importance of relevant work experience where skills such as customer-service skills can be developed and demonstrated should thus not be overlooked. Work experience schemes based on cooperation between universities and the industry could also have a positive effect on graduates' employability not only by expanding their work experience, but also because such cooperation is often linked to a more positive view ofthe value of tourism degrees. Where jobs which do require holding a degree are concerned, employers indicated that tourism degrees do not provide an advantage. They associated tourism degrees with new universities, and perceive graduates from new universities to exhibit deficiencies in higher level graduate skills. This suggests that although the expansion of HE was designed to meet the needs of the economy, employers may not be convinced of its benefits. The results indicate that regardless of whether the tourism degrees provide good, sound academic base, if employers associate them with former polytechnics and lower academic standards they will still opt for graduates from elite institutions and more traditional degree subjects.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: N800 Tourism, Transport and Travel ; tourism ; tourism education