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Hospitality education in UK universities – is it in terminal decline?

28th May 2022

Donald Sloan of the Oxford Cultural Collective and Ruud Reuland, former Head of Ecole hoteliere de Lausanne, suggest time may be up for the established model of hospitality education in UK universities.  Is it time to adopt a more progressive educational agenda that meets the needs of students and industry and that addresses significant challenges facing contemporary society?


Chris Sheppardson interviewing Donald Sloan and Ruud Reuland, as part of a recent webinar, ‘Adapting to New Talent Demands in Hospitality‘, jointly hosted by EP Business in HospitalityHVSAlixPartners and Bird & Bird.


Hospitality and tourism are vital pillars of the world economy. In the UK alone, in 2019 there were over 36 million international visitors who spent nearly £35 billion.  In the same year the total estimated turnover of UK-based hospitality businesses was £133.5 billion.  It is no surprise that hospitality is the country’s fourth largest employer.

From a cultural perspective, hospitality represents our diverse identities.  It gives our cities and towns their distinctive character, enriches the lives of local residents and shapes perceptions and memories for visitors.

The covid pandemic, which brought hospitality to a standstill, intensified a process of collective reflection on the role of hospitality in society and on the responsibilities of the sector, with respect to tackling the climate emergency, protecting our natural environment and our distinct cultural heritage and overcoming systemic racism and inequality. This has brought the nature and quality of hospitality education in UK universities into sharp focus. Is the higher education system supporting the development needs of graduates seeking corporate, entrepreneurial and creative employment opportunities in the hospitality industry? And are our universities acting as effective advocates for the adoption of more socially progressive practice in hospitality?



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