The basic vocational training hotel-communications specialist EFZ (Hoko) at the Swiss School of Tourism and Hospitality trains sought-after all-rounders for the hospitality industry. The higher education program Swiss Professional Degree «Dipl. Hôtelière-Restauratrice / Hôtelier-Restaurateur HF» at the SSTH offers graduates exciting career prospects. From September 2018, Swiss Professional Degree* graduates are able to earn the Bachelor of Science (BSc) in Hospitality Management from the University of Applied Sciences Western Switzerland (HES-SO) in Passugg. André Witschi, President of the Board of Governors at École hôtelière de Lausanne, provides more information about this important development at SSTH.

* Dipl. Hôtelière-Restauratrice/Hôtelier-Restaurateur HF

the interview with André Witschi was conducted by Martin Michel

Mr. Witschi, what is your personal connection to the hospitality industry?
I have been part of the hospitality industry for over 60 years, I grew up in a small hotel and have spent my entire professional career in hospitality. That is why I have always felt at home and very comfortable in this industry.

What is SSTH’s position in hospitality education?
SSTH is part of the École hôtelière de Lausanne (EHL) Group. Since 2012, the group has been pursuing a quality and growth strategy. In this context, we included the SSTH into the group in 2014. SSTH’s mission within the group is quite clear, to bring potential newcomers to the hospitality industry from a skilled to an academic level. This means, that we offer Hoko, the basic vocational training, followed by the Swiss Professional Degree* in German or English - currently the only higher education institution with an English program nationally recognized by the Swiss federal government. From this year on, Swiss Professional Degree* graduates are able to earn a second degree in only three semesters, awarding them a federal accredited Bachelor degree from the University of Applied Sciences in Western Switzerland HES-SO.

So the Bachelor in hospitality management at the SSTH will start in the fall of 2018?
Exactly, it is a Bachelor in «International Hospitality Management». The Bachelor program will be delivered in English on the SSTH Campus in Passugg under the full academic responsibility of the École hôtelière de Lausanne, which is why successful students receive a Bachelor degree from the University of Applied Sciences in Westen Switzerland HES-SO. This is a Bachelor degree recognized by the Swiss federal government. It is very important to underline this, because at a later stage in one's career, it is only possible to visit other top-training institutions in the world with such a title because it is Bologna accredited.

Where will the Bachelor program take place and how long will it take?
The Bachelor program can be completed in three semesters for Swiss Professional Degree* graduates. Two semesters are delivered on the SSTH campus in Passugg and one semester is delivered on the EHL campus in Lausanne, as it is possible to offer a variety of specialization opportunities that requires larger classes.

Please describe the Bachelor semester at the EHL in Lausanne.
As part of the 2012 quality and growth initiative, EHL has redesigned the school buildings. Currently, a new campus for 1000 students as well as a “Village d’innovation” is being built. This innovation village is unique to the industry. The last semester of the Bachelor program will therefore be delivered in Lausanne, as there are various attractive specialization opportunities on this large campus.

What is your role in the future development of the École hôtelière de Lausanne?
I have had the opportunity to work for École hôtelière de Lausanne for over 15 years. First as a member of the Board of Governors, and from 2012 as President of the Board of Governors. We, the Board of Governors of the École hôtelière de Lausanne, as well as the managing bodies of the Swiss Hotel Association, are convinced that our programs offer a good basis for a successful career in the hospitality industry - and we would like to give more young people this opportunity.

How do you describe the cooperation of SSTH Passugg with EHL in Lausanne?
For EHL in Lausanne, it is very important to have a direct connection to Graubünden, one of the most important tourist destinations in our country. The cooperation is multifaceted, starting for example in the preparatory year of Lausanne, in which international students prepare for the EHL studies. Since February 2018, a part of the preparatory year is delivered in Passugg, so that future Bachelor students in Lausanne get to know another spectrum of the Swiss hospitality industry. This is part of the cooperation. Another important part of the cooperation results from EHL’s continuous large surplus of demand. The reasons for the demanding entry criteria are that we select the best. With the SSTH we have the opportunity to offer the shorter Bachelor program, to grant students with a Swiss Professional Degree* the same amount of ECTS credits for a very practice-oriented study path.

Where do you see the SSTH in five to ten years?
I have a very clear vision. I am convinced that SSTH Swiss Professional Degree* graduates completing the three semesters for the Bachelor will occupy excellent positions in the hospitality industry. Because they are well-trained in the practical aspect and will have then acquired an academic background as well, they will be in great demand in the hospitality industry.

What value do you attach to hospitality education?
I am convinced that a good basic education is fundamental because we live in changing times. From my own personal experience, I know how important it is to know the basic principles and the basic elements of the profession to be able to easily deal with anything new. When I started my training in the hotel business, reservations were made via telex. Nowadays they are done by smartphone, but if I don’t know how a reservation works, then I can’t make one either with a smartphone or by telex. That is why the basic training has to be right; this basis means that I know what can happen and how I can use new tools and adapt them into my professional life.

What is EHL's position in national and international hospitality education?
Our strength is having the hospitality industry behind us, because we work very closely together with the Swiss Hotel Association. Additionally, we constantly confront the challenges of the future. That is why, in the course of this year, we will be setting up a Village d’innovation. In order to achieve this important objective, we have had a Directeur d’innovation for over a year now, who monitors the hospitality industry worldwide for start-ups as well as developments in education. These findings are incorporated into the Village d’innovation, which will be set up right next to the University of Lausanne. There will be areas there where we will be able to offer consultations; in addition we will provide – on a larger scale than what is already available today – workspaces for start-ups and enable our faculty to work more intensely on research and development. Our close cooperation with the industry and with businesses will be important for the Centre d’innovation. It is located only a stone’s throw away from the Nestlé innovation center. This enables a good spirit for innovation.

* Dipl. Hôtelière-Restauratrice/Hôtelier-Restaurateur HF

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