'If you want to study hospitality, it is best to go to Switzerland" was once a common adage given as advice to students who wanted to pursue a career in the hotel industry.
Students at Dusit Thani College put their culinary skills into action. PURICH TRIVITAYAKHUN
The Dusit Thani College (DTC) and the Lyceum of the Philippines University (LPU) have signed a memorandum of agreement (MOA) to produce students with a high calibre of skills in the hospitality industry. The fact that the LPU has chosen to collaborate with DTC is evidence that the quality of hospitality courses in Thailand's universities rivals that of many prestigious universities in many Western countries.
"Faculty members of institutions in Switzerland used to visit us, and they were very impressed with our teaching and learning," said Mrs Veera Pardpattanapanich, rector of DTC.
Under the MOA, DTC designed and developed a common curriculum in hospitality education for LPU's four, located in Manila, Batangas, Cavite and Laguna.
"We looked at their curricula, took out their major subjects and inserted our own courses and developed a single curriculum for all four campuses. However, we retained their syllabus structure," said Mrs Veera, adding that DTC also provided training courses for LPU's faculties, suggested textbooks, supplements and pedagogies, and designed learning and teaching facilities.
As a result of the collaboration, two programmes were developed, which are the Bachelor of Science degree in International Hospitality Management and the Bachelor of Science degree in International Travel and Tourism Management. Last year, around 4,000 students enrolled for these programmes at LPU.
Since the signing of the MOA at the end of 2008, the number of students in LPU's tourism and hospitality management programme has grown 20 percent, compared with an average annual rate of 5 percent previously.
"China, Egypt and countries in the Middle East would also like to work with us," said the rector.
Mrs Veera Pardpattanapanich
The academic joint venture between DTC and LPU points to a promising future for Thai hospitality education. To propel Thailand's hospitality education to greater achievements, schools have to pay attention to their faculties and to provide pupils with ample opportunities to develop their skills and learning capabilities, Mrs Veera urged.
According to the rector, experience in the industry is vital to teachers of hospitality. The challenge is how to get experienced hospitality practitioners to become teachers, as the rewards in the hospitality industry are more alluring than those offered in the education sphere, and new graduates who want to take up a teaching career do not yet have the desired professional experience.
"For new teachers who have no experience, we need to build up their experience," said Mrs Veera. "For example, at DTC, if culinary teachers have spare time, we send them to work at a restaurant and let them prepare food in a commercial environment. This enables them to remain abreast of trends, and teachers can transfer the new knowledge gained to their students," she added.
For professionals in the industry, schools have to equip them with the skills of an educator, such as teaching and evaluation skills, Mrs Veera said.
"Each school needs to enhance and build their own high-quality faculties. It is not beneficial to snatch [experienced] teachers from one another," the rector added.