BMIHMS Secures Government Funding for Innovative New Project

Scott RichardsonThe Blue Mountains International Hotel Management School (BMIHMS) has received a significant grant from the Australian Government to support its innovative efforts in enhancing student employability.

Earlier this year, BMIHMS’ Head of Academic Affairs, Dr Scott Richardson, was invited to work on a grant proposal with colleagues from Griffith University, the University of Queensland and Edith Cowan University.

The proposed project – ‘Enhancing student employability skills through virtual field trips in the hospitality industry’ – will trial, evaluate and promote virtual field trips (VFT) and related teachings as tools to develop graduate employability skills and threshold learning outcomes (TLOs).

It was announced in early July that the project had received a total of $273,000 in funding from the Government’s Office for Learning & Teaching (OLT), as part of their ongoing commitment to maintaining a world class higher education sector by developing the best teaching and student learning experiences.

Dr Richardson said the grant was a pleasing result for both students and the hospitality industry of the future.

“Hospitality is one of the fastest growing industries in the world, and students are now expected to be global in their thinking and knowledge. The industry requires work ready graduates with the skills and capabilities to cope with real world problems.

“Providing them with access to virtual field trips will be a great learning resource. Students will now have the unique opportunity to visit hotels and attractions from all around the globe in a virtual capacity, giving them greater exposure to the industry than ever before.

It is our intention that the project will better prepare graduates for the demands of this ever changing industry.”

While traditional fieldwork gives students an opportunity to establish authentic connections between course content and experiences, time limitations and increasing student numbers and diversity have made physical field trips very challenging to operate.

The VFTs proposed by this new project will provide an alternative approach to blending academic and practical learning experiences by offering rich information, flexible access and an authentic learning experience. VFTs also provide an opportunity to showcase the operations of international hotels and independent restaurants to ensure that students are exposed to a variety of different designs, layouts and management practices.

“This project aligns particularly well with the approach to learning that is already well established at BMIHMS,” Dr Scott said.

“We are strongly focused on combining theoretical coursework with practical experience to ensure our students are work ready upon graduation. This new project will add a wonderful new element to the already solid learning experience available at BMIHMS,” he said.

BMIHMS General Manager, Jerome Casteigt, congratulated Dr Scott and his colleagues for their fantastic achievement.

“This is an incredibly impressive achievement; not just the grant itself, but for the very fact that BMIHMS was selected by these universities as a key private provider in the field of hospitality education.

“These three universities are highly regarded as being the best in the country for hospitality education so it’s wonderful that BMIHMS has been recognised as a valuable asset to the team, thanks to our strong industry connections and reputation.

Being included in this very prestigious research project is a wonderful demonstration of the academic standing of the Blue Mountains faculty led by Dr Richardson, Dr Edmund Goh, Simon Pawson and Ralph Barnes. Well done to everyone involved,” Mr Casteigt said.

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