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Hospitality Education: Time for a Radical Rethink

2nd October 2020


The Oxford Cultural Collective and EP Business in Hospitality used an online event on 30th September 2020 to call for a radical rethink of hospitality education in the UK.


In recent years, the narrative surrounding hospitality education offered by UK universities has been dominated by challenges, including a lack of commitment from Vice Chancellors, disinvestment in specialist facilities, declining student numbers and an intensification of bureaucracy, which stifles creativity.

There is a growing consensus that if hospitality education is to have a bright future, it is time for a significantly different approach. Over two webinar sessions, speakers proposed a dual strategy:



A new academy of hospitality and gastronomy

In the first webinar session, Chris Sheppardson of EP was in discussion with Donald Sloan of the Oxford Cultural Collective and Ruud Reuland, former Head of both Ecole Hotelier de Lausanne and Hotel School the Hague.

The session focused on a set of principles that could underpin the development of a new educational institute.  These included creating deep working partnerships with industry; building a vibrant, diverse learning community that enables students to flourish; focusing on impact, particularly with respect to academic research; embracing hospitality and gastronomy as positive and defining aspects of culture and identity; ending educational segregation and achieving parity of esteem for FE and HE; and opening up education to the widest possible audience.

The event was designed to provoke reflection and discussion and to engage a community of support behind an ambitious project.

On the basis of an inclusive consultation process, plans for a new academy of hospitality and gastronomy are being refined. More details will be published in the near future. 


Showcasing good practice

Reflecting a need to create a positive, optimistic narrative about the future of hospitality education, the second session was a showcase of innovative educational practice. Donald Sloan was in discussion with Julia Sibley, CEO of the Savoy Educational Trust, Professor Una McMahon-Beattie, Head of the Department of Hospitality and Tourism Management at Ulster University and Gordon McIntyre, Dean of Hospitality and Tourism at City of Glasgow College.

As someone with strong connections to numerous colleges and universities, Julia discussed examples of practice that could set a benchmark for others.  Una focused on the Antonio Carluccio Outreach Programme, a new initiative designed to widen access to hospitality and culinary arts education to school leavers who may not have considered going to university. Gordon highlighted the Hospitality and Culinary Summit, held before lockdown in March 2020, which brought together representatives of industry and national government, who pledged to work together as a community of support for students.


(note – apologies for poor audio and visual quality at start of webinar.  Second session beings at 46mins 20 secs)


(to learn more about the Hospitality and Culinary Summit staged by City of Glasgow College, follow this link)



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