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    Reforming hospitality education to fulfill the industry expectations: A case of Universiti Utara Malaysia

    At present, the study of hospitality is deemed important because it is a significant industry in the service sector. According to the World Travel and Tourism Council, the hospitality industry is estimated to acquire a total of 262.6 million jobs present in the global workforce by the year 2017 and being one of the most volatile industries globally. Hence, there is an increasing need for the hospitality education sector to provide sufficient manpower to meet the demands of this dynamic industry. While there has been an increased emphasis on hospitality programmes which offer a wide range of courses worldwide, there is insufficient review if the present hospitality education curriculum meets industry expectations.

    The value of hospitality education is ultimately constant with the expansion of the hospitality industry itself. As such, the pioneer of hospitality education, Switzerland, begin offering the programme since early 1907. This is followed by Cornell, the first hotel institution in the United States.

    With regards to Malaysia, the hospitality education is remodeled to a great extent to bridge the gap between hospitality education and industry needs aligned with the development of the hospitality industry. With the growing need for hospitality graduates, various academic institutions in Malaysia have created hospitality programme to meet the industry demands. However, the quality of curriculum structure has become an extensive challenge for the hospitality industry. The academic institutions reckoned that a balance between theory and practice of hospitality education needs to be positioned as a fundamental element of the hospitality curriculum particularly in higher institutions. Hence, it is this study aims to examine the standardisation of existing curriculum. Is the curriculum really designed to fulfill the industry expectations? Does it comply with what the industry wants from the graduates?

    The study findings revealed that theoretically, the structure is viewed by hospitality experts as bridging the gaps in comprehending the industry needs from students. However, customer satisfaction and clients of the academic institutions should be examined. Four key skills components in the curriculum of a hospitality education have also been identified by experts. These components include business functional skills, hospitality functional skills, personal skills and analytic skills.

    The study also acknowledges two suggestions by experts. Firstly, it is the inclusion of Islamic and Civilisation course into the analytical skills component. This is because it represents the Islamic culture of the hospitality programme in Malaysia. Secondly, Foreign Languages courses should be taken by students to meet the basics needs of the hospitality industry in Malaysia, particularly, Arabic and Japanese. Today, arabic tourists are dominant international tourists of Malaysia. Further Malaysia being a Muslim country is representative of the Islamic hospitality for Muslim tourists therefore, Arabic language should be deemed as an essential course for the hospitality students.

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    Participate in the upcoming QS Subject Focus Summit – “The Way Forward: Hospitality and Tourism Education Convergence with Industry 4.0” which will be held from 5-7 December 2018 in Kuching, Malaysia.