Ulster University bucks trend with multi million pound hospitality school to beat post-Brexit skills shortage
With the pandemic and Brexit having exacerbated the UK’s school for hospitality skills shortage, industry leaders have said it is essential institutions continue to offer professional hospitality courses as they do in Europe.
A university in Northern Ireland is opening a multi-million pound hospitality school and cultural hub, which will help combat the sector’s post-Brexit hospitality skills shortage.
Ulster University Business School has spent £360m on a new campus, with a considerable portion being used to create a specialist centre for would-be chefs, restaurant managers and hospitality entrepreneurs.
While other institutions are closing their culinary arts programmes, Academy: the Centre for Food, Drink and Culture features a commercial restaurant and bar among its facilities.
Hospitality consultant Donald Sloan, the chair of the centre’s steering group, said the investment is more crucial than ever.
“Our industry has suffered from massive underfunding and still there is this perception that hospitality isn’t deserving of investment such as this,” he told i.
“This project goes against the grain – I think one good thing to come out of an awful two years is how valuable and necessary our pubs and restaurants are. But we need skilled people to work in them.
“Elsewhere, universities are cutting funding. This signifies a long-term commitment and I think it will have an enormous impact.”
In September 2019, one of the country’s then leading university hospitality schools closed its training restaurant, despite a widespread public outcry.
Oxford Brookes Restaurant, which formed part of the Oxford School of Hospitality Management, pulled the plug “following a formal consultation process and careful consideration”.
In the same year, The Advertiser reported Derby University’s Buxton campus would be stopping courses in hospitality, tourism and events management, displacing hundreds of students.
With the pandemic and Brexit having exacerbated the UK’s skill pool, industry leaders have said it is essential institutions continue to offer professional hospitality courses as they do in Europe.
Professor Una McMahon-Beattie, head of Hospitality and Tourism Management at Ulster University, said: “We’re one of the oldest departments in the UK and Ireland and this investment means we’ve built an amazing new learning environment for students.
“Ulster has a long tradition of hospitality. Now, we’ve gone so much further, and have a fully immersed hospitality environment with a restaurant, kitchen, bar, board room, and visitor centre.
“This is one of the biggest educational developments in Europe currently, with world-class facilities.”
The original version of this article was first published on the iNews
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