Hospitable Campus: foodservice management and student wellbeing
A new report prepared by the Oxford Cultural Collective, on behalf of The University Caterers Organisation, urges UK universities to consider the role of on-campus food, drink and hospitality in supporting positive student wellbeing.
The Oxford Cultural Collective was recently commissioned by The University Caterers Organisation (TUCO) to undertake a study on the role of on-campus hospitality in supporting student wellbeing. The project led to the publication of a report, entitled Hospitable Campus, which was launched at TUCO’s Winter Conference at Queen’s University in Belfast on 5th December 2018.
For the purposes of the report, positive wellbeing is described as a condition, characterised as being physically and mentally healthy and content, which enhances students’ chances of success and fulfilment whilst at university.
Increased scrutiny of all aspects of student support, in part through the National Student Survey, and a narrative of crisis sustained by the press, largely focused on student suicides, have ensured that student wellbeing is now a key priority for UK universities and colleges. Given these significant contextual changes it is perhaps surprising that the potential link between on-campus hospitality and student wellbeing is generally overlooked. The power of food, drink and hospitality to promote a sense of inclusion, community and belonging, receives little attention at institutional or national levels and is rarely the focus of academic studies. As noted by Matthew White, Chair of TUCO, the publication of Hospitable Campus is a first step in tackling this oversight: “…it signifies TUCO’s intention to start a national conversation amongst those in its member institutions, about ways in which on-campus hospitality can make positive contributions to student wellbeing.”
The report contains a comprehensive literature review, prepared by Dr Peter Lugosi of the Oxford School of Hospitality Management at Oxford Brookes University, focused on drivers for the prioritisation of student welfare, analysis of existing literature on the link between on-campus hospitality and student wellbeing, and the identification of how food, drink and hospitality could be used to address issues including the effective induction of new students, integration of students into culturally diverse environments and the development of supportive relationships that mitigate risks to students’ mental health. It also features case studies from four universities – St Andrews, Huddersfield, Manchester and Harper Adams, that highlight good practice.
The report’s key recommendations include active engagement with senior managers in UK universities to highlight the untapped potential of on-campus hospitality to support student wellbeing; the professional development of hospitality staff through creative workshops; sharing of good practice between universities to ensure collective progress; and the initiation of legacy projects, including additional research.
To download a copy of the Hospitable Campus report – follow this link – Hospitable Campus
The literature review that forms part of the Hospitable Campus report has been published in the International Journal of Hospitality Management (a peer reviewed journal). To access a copy, follow this link.
TUCO is the leading professional membership body for ‘in house’ caterers operating in the UK higher and further education sector. It is committed to advancing the learning and developing of catering and hospitality teams, and works to provide quality standards, advice and information to those working in the sector. TUCO promotes a health and well-being agenda on behalf of its members, and is at the fore of best practice on sustainability. In addition, the TUCO Academy provides a comprehensive range of learning opportunities for those in its member institutions.
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