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  • bernardquinn

Some of the best hotel schools around the world?

I've been very fortunate to work with some outstanding hotel/hospitality schools over the years and thought I'd try to pull together an account of where they are and what they do....

Recently I was approached by a young student who had a simple query: where should he go to find the best hotel management school in the world? Good question, but I actually had to give this some time to mull over before answering him. After almost two decades of working with such schools, running them and developing transnational partnerships between them, I realised this isn’t such a straightforward question to answer. We live in troubled times and for most citizens globally, there are financial, socio-economic and post-covid challenges, among many others, we all face daily. These issues therefore make recommending an international study experience potentially more challenging due to the various factors that may be involved in moving from country A to country B for studies. So rather than claim that there is only one ‘best’ hotel school, I suggested he look at a number that fulfil varying criteria and experiences leading to a formal academic award. Expanding upon that list I started to think further about such schools around the world that I have visited, worked with or know more about them by reputations. If you are a potential student thinking of such an experience, my musings may (or may not) help. So here’s what I know if you are interested…

I start from Australia and work my way west. One of the most popular hotel schools in Asia-Pacific region, is the Blue Mountains International Hotel Management School (BMIHMS). Part of the Torrens university, BMIHMS has campuses in several Australian cities and a transnational partner in China. Lots of other good options in Australia include Griffith University, Kaplan, and ICM Sydney. I must confess to being a bit of a food geek and enjoyed some wonderful seafood during my travels in Australia – enjoyed Sydney for wandering around exploring the city tourist sites and pubs, Melbourne for the fantastic café culture and Brisbane for the seafront walks and lively restaurants along the boardwalk.

Moving to Southeast Asia we find a lot of academic riches. Let’s start with Malaysia and look first at Kuala Lumpur (KL) which boasts the well-known and respected Sunway University, Taylors and INTI. There are many more reputable schools in KL but having visited all three of these I can report they are all of very high standard and great campuses. Further northwest from KL, we find additional INTI campuses in Sabah and Subang. In the far north in the state of Sabah, we also find gems like North Borneo University College in Kota Kinabalu. Flights are from KL and I think took under an hour to get there. There are a multitude of hospitality and hotel management courses across Malaysia and having operated there, found education standards very high and most schools with international partners.

To the south we have Singapore and again we find multiple high quality hotel schools. Some of the best known are Nanyang, PSB, EGA EASB (EAIM), and MDIS. Having lived and worked in Singapore for several years, I can attest to the high education standards there. It is a terrific option for international students who seek a ‘safe’ destination with high quality learning experiences. There is a mix of state schools and a large number of private schools that are all operated under strict education legislations. Must mention food again – Singapore, like Malaysia has the most fantastic food scene, look out for the famous hawker centres where substantial meals can be had for a few dollars. If you get the chance try the wonderful Singapore chilli crab- it’s jaw-droppingly brilliant! While you’re at it, have a wander around Chinatown and a must-visit is the terrific Chinatown Heritage Centre in Pagoda Street- fascinating place.

Also of interest close-by is the island of Batam just south of Singapore that has numerous hotel and culinary schools. This small Indonesian island hosts among others, Batam Tourism Polytechnic and Balikpapan State Polytechnic that offer hospitality and culinary arts programmes. Students are mostly local, but the schools have international academic partners in the UK. Main towns in Batam can be very busy with traffic but I found the people to be lovely, very friendly and an inexpensive place to go shopping. Very regular ferries from Singapore make the journey in an hour or so every day of the week.

Let’s head north again to Vietnam and then on to their neighbours in Thailand. First up is Hanoi, what a beautiful city. Sitting on the banks of the Red River, the city architecture boasts some stunning French colonial style streets and buildings. Loved the sidewalk café culture here and the wonderful coffees. There’s many hotel schools here also for students to think about-consider the famous Vatel group who have multiple campuses in Vietnam and global reach. There’s also the Vietnam National University which has campuses in both Hanoi and Ho Chi Min City. Additionally other high-end institutions in Vietnam such as the Hotel Academy Phu Quoc, in Phu Quoc City, which is part of the EHL group. Check out the food scene in Vietnam, I enjoyed some unusual dishes there, fried fish guts with chilli and some cold sliced jellyfish come to mind.

Over in Thailand we head to the capital, Bangkok and the quite brilliant Dusit Thani schools. I’ve been lucky to visit some wonderful schools over the years but must confess Dusit Thani is up there in my top 5. The culinary school experiences students get is second to none anywhere in the world. Check out their website and the Food School-awesome. There are so many options for study in Thailand but one other I mention here is Les Roches associated Asian Institute of Hospitality Management (AIHM) which has presence in both Bangkok and Pattaya.

Moving north again we come to one of my favourite destinations on the planet – Nepal! What a truly wonderful experience it is to visit this country. It is also blessed with some fine hotel and culinary arts training schools. Silver Mountain School of Hotel Management (SMSHM) immediately comes to mind in Kathmandu as well as its sister school Fishtail Mountain School of Hospitality, Tourism and Management in Pokhara. These schools also feature very highly in my top 5 of global hotel schools. Amazing faculty, inspiring leaders and the nicest most gentle students raise these schools to terrific heights of achievement. Their social involvement with the community is particularly inspiring. Fun people, friendly and welcoming, Nepal is worthy of consideration for a diverse learning experience where you can get both a local and international degree.

Moving south of the Nepali borders we arrive in India which has been blessed with many fine hotel schools. Let’s start in Kolkata where we find the well-known International Institute of Hotel Management (IIHM) group of hotel management schools. This group has now expanded around India into many cities as well as internationally and has developed the International Young Chef Olympiad which occurs annually around January time. Across the country in Mumbai, we find the ITM group that has multiple hospitality management and culinary arts awards available in campuses in Nerul and Oshiwara. Elsewhere in Mumbai we have Ramanath Payyade College of Hospitality management and in Bangalore the ASK institute of Hospitality Management. These institutions do not come anywhere near to describing the huge numbers of excellent hotel management schools in India but are simply the ones I know of personally and/or have worked with at some time in the past. My first visit to India was in 2005 and I recall musing then that I could easily go vegetarian if I lived there, such is the variety of flavours and dishes available from state to state. Today I still feel the same when I visit India and still love the curries, roti, aloo gobi, samosas and paneer to name but a few of my favourites. By the way if you ever visit India, there are some amazing places to explore but I still like to recommend a trip to Agra and the Taj Mahal and on the east coast Bhubaneswar for the temples.

Continuing west from India we head to the Middle East and consider Oman, UAE and Saudi Arabia as destinations. In Oman we find the National Hospitality Institute (NHI) in Muscat whilst in neighbouring Dubai the famous Emirates Academy of Hospitality Management (EAHM) is a long established favourite. In UAE recent ‘Emiratisation’ policies set by government demands that employers must recruit local Emirati citizens within their companies (generally one in 50 at least) and this has seen many local hospitality training companies benefit as they provide relevant skills training to the local workforce. Meanwhile in Saudi Arabia the Red Sea resort $5 billion development has ensured that many local hotel management schools are reaping the benefits in order to provide a locally ready and trained workforce to meet the highest standards anticipated. I love the foods available in the middle east – from terrific breads like manakeesh that can have minced beef, cheese or my own favourite za’atar a herb topping, to well-known dishes like falafel, halloumi, tabouleh and baba ganoush, such amazing food culture here.

Crossing west into Europe our first stop is to look at the university of gastronomic sciences in Pollenzo, Italy or to give it, it’s full title – Universita di Scienze Gastronomiche di Pollenzo. Here one can find the inspirational Slow Food founded school that ‘forms gastronomes’. Other schools of note that I know of or have visited in Europe are as follows – in Greece there’s the quite wonderful Metropolitan College group that has schools in Athens and Thessaloniki and offer hospitality management, culinary arts and multiple other awards. In Bulgaria we find HRC Academy which also has the very well-known HRC International student placement services.

Switzerland is renowned for having some of the oldest hotel management schools in the world and it certainly boasts some of the top-ranking schools globally. Whilst the high prices may deter some, there’s no denying that some of the Swiss schools do offer completely immersive learning experiences with great internship and career opportunities afterwards. Looking at the top ranked institutions globally in the QS tables one can see there’s 7 Swiss institutions just in the top ten alone. In neighbouring France we find the highly regarded Paul Bocuse institute offering Culinary Arts and Hospitality management awards, not just in France but in multiple other countries around the world. Moving up to the Netherlands we find the well-established Hotel School the Hague, NHL Stenden and Breda University. Small country punching above its weight in terms of hotel management training.

Which brings me to the UK and Ireland, and there’s a few I should mention. At the university of Essex, there’s the Edge Hotel School, whilst nearby there’s the rather wonderful University of West London, London Geller College of Hospitality and Tourism. Moving north to Scotland we have some colleges worthy of mention who do much to reach out to local communities. First, the Borders College, which does much to develop young culinary talent for the future and then to Edinburgh College on the east coast and across country to the west coast and the remarkable City of Glasgow College which has a range of hospitality and culinary arts awards. This college also has a huge range of international partners around the world. Further north we find the University of the Highlands and Islands (UHI) which has a terrific vocational hospitality awards that emphasises industrial experiences through the studies. Across the water in northern Ireland there’s the well-known University of Ulster in Belfast and other campuses and further south we find the well respected Munster Technological University.

My final stops on the quick tour around the globe is the US of A and my knowledge is disappointingly restricted to two institutions. First up on the east coast is the world famous Cornell university that has offered high quality hospitality awards for many years and is also famous for its high intensity research activities in the field. Finally I mention the University of Nevada Las Vegas that I was fortunate to visit a few years ago- special place with an impressive faculty and equally impressive campus.

So that’s it friends, hard to recommend one place to study when these days the world is literally your oyster in terms of places to study hospitality and/or culinary arts degrees. If your finances allow it, I recommend to travel somewhere out with your own country. Naturally there’s cultural differences around the world. Do your own research before deciding where to go and who to commit your time and money to. But consider this: increasingly employers are looking for that’s special something to make your CV stand out from the crowd- what could be better than stating you studied somewhere like Nepal and were involved in community projects making a real difference to citizens who aren’t as lucky as you are? Good luck with your searches!

Caledonia Education works with global partners to facilitate transnational educational opportunities and counsels students as to next study opportunities- get in touch anytime for an informal chat.

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