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World's top hotel school to set up first overseas campus in Singapore

Partnerships with local industry experts will help complement lessons with practical applications for the Asia-Pacific.

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EHL Group CEO Michel Rochat says that as an example of how innovative concepts are brought into the classroom, EHL is currently running two AI-related projects which will help students acclimatise to new technologies disrupting the sector.

SWITZERLAND'S EHL, the famous Lausanne-based hotel school - ranked the world's best hospitality and leisure management university - has just got Singapore's approval to set up its first overseas campus here.

Founded in 1893, the Ecole hôtelière de Lausanne (EHL) has 25,000 graduate alumni worldwide.

It was ranked at the top position in the 2019 QS World University ranking for Hospitality & Leisure Management Universities, after celebrating its 125th anniversary and earning the extremely-sought-after Michelin star for its educational restaurant on campus.

EHL says it has got the EduTrust certification needed by private education institutions to offer its Bachelor of Science in International Hospitality Management course in Singapore. The first cohort of students is expected to start in Singapore in 2021.

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Dr Juan F Perellon, chief risk and compliance officer, EHL Group, and member of the board of directors of EHL Campus (Singapore), says: "The EduTrust certification scheme sets very high standards and is usually only granted after several years of operation in Singapore. Receiving the certification prior to the campus opening is a great demonstration of confidence in the quality and excellence of our institution."

André Witschi, chairman of the EHL Group board of governors, says: "We are grateful for the Singaporean authorities' go-ahead in this exciting project and we are very much looking forward to establishing a strong international foothold in one of the world's most dynamic and competitive countries.

"Receiving this certification is a great milestone which allows us to move forward with the next steps of the project, namely confirming the location of the premises of our campus in Singapore".

EHL says its Singapore campus will offer the same internationally recognised Bachelor of Science in International Hospitality Management degree as offered at the EHL campus in Lausanne, adding first hand local market knowledge and experience to the curriculum. The new campus aims to expand opportunities for future hospitality leaders to thrive in an international landscape.

Candidates can submit an anticipated application to start their preparatory year at the EHL Campus Lausanne in September 2020 and then begin their Bachelor course as the first cohort at EHL Campus (Singapore) in 2021.

In an interview with The Business Times, EHL Group CEO Michel Rochat says: "We began searching for a campus in the Asia Pacific region to address an increased demand from students for international exposure and know-how. The search for an overseas campus fulfils EHL Group's vision of academic excellence, sustained innovation, global exposure and exceptional community building with industry stakeholders in one of the most dynamic hospitality markets in the world."

While global demand for hospitality professionals continues to grow, Asia is the fastest growing market and continues to show a strong need for talent. Singapore was selected as the preferred location for EHL's first international campus outside Switzerland thanks to its stringent educational quality standards, quality of life, stability, attractiveness to students, and values, he adds.

"EHL Campus (Singapore)'s facilities will be true to the EHL spirit and high standards. The location of the campus is currently pending final confirmation. While the Singapore campus will be smaller in size, both the location and services available on-site and off-site will ensure students settle smoothly and enjoy a student life as rich and stimulating as in Lausanne," says Mr Rochat.

"The initial intake should welcome about 60 students in September 2020 starting their preparatory year in Lausanne and 40 students in February 2021, with plans to grow to about 100 and 60 students per respective intake in the future.

"The EHL Singapore cohorts shall maintain the enriching diversity of our student body with a balanced mix of students from western and eastern countries. Partnerships with local industry experts will help complement course content with practical applications relevant to the Asia Pacific region."

The Bachelor's programme tuition fees applicable to international students will be identical in Lausanne and Singapore.

"Swiss citizens and residents will, however, not benefit from Swiss government subsidies (AHES) if studying in Singapore," says Mr Rochat.

"Scholarship opportunities for Swiss or Singaporean students are being evaluated and further information will be given closer to the campus confirmation date.

"Industry experts will help complement course content with practical applications relevant to the Asia Pacific region. The Singapore campus will have autonomy to provide optional course units in the 6th semester that are aligned with local needs."

On what is so special about the hospitality programmes offered by EHL, he says: "Switzerland remains an example in terms of academic excellence, competitiveness and innovation. EHL's programmes instill the right mix of industry know-how, creativity and entrepreneurial spirit.

"Students are not only trained in technical know-how of the sector, they are also given a solid training in business management, communications, and other subjects that will help them develop leadership qualities and soft skills to succeed as a leader in the hospitality sector.

"For example, students apply what they learn through student business projects. They `offer consulting style services, conduct research and propose practical and actionable recommendations to industry partners under the guidance of experienced faculty.

"The nine-week programme allows students to gain professional experience. Students have received overwhelmingly positive feedback from leading businesses based in Switzerland such as Nestle, Credit Suisse, Swisscom Hospitality Services and Philips Hospitality."

Mr Rochat says that as in Lausanne, "it is a priority to maintain the level of academic excellence across all EHL campuses. EHL Campus (Singapore)'s faculty will be recruited locally and internationally prior to its opening. Exchange opportunities for faculty members will also be available, providing professors with the possibility to teach in Singapore".

Since the degree will be the same as the one in Lausanne, students from the Singapore campus will benefit from the same curriculum content, quality and recognition of their diploma. Local examples like case studies used in classes, will be embedded in the teaching content, to add further insights into Asian markets.

On what has enabled EHL to be ranked the No 1 hospitality school in the world: "Our founders identified the need to professionalise the industry at the turn of the century when Europe was going through massive social changes and economic development. This pioneering spirit continues as we leverage 125 years of innovation and focus on innovation, academic excellence, and deep industry partnerships to take the industry forward.

"The future of hospitality and the future of education remains the driving force behind every thought, every action and every investment at EHL. We bring innovative concepts to the classroom and the hospitality industry through research and collaboration."

Faculty members, students and industry partners are also invited to participate in conferences, applied research projects, contests and EHL's Innovation Hub, which is an incubator for hospitality start-ups.

As an example of how innovative concepts are brought into the classroom, EHL is currently running two AI-related projects which will help students acclimatise to new technologies disrupting the sector.

One is a virtual personal assistant named Amelia, which initially will help guests and students connect to Wi-Fi, and at a later stage will answer questions from potential students and parents about the school's courses. The hope is to be able to train a robot concierge that has self- learning capabilities and mobility to move across the campus.

The school launched a virtual reality class for first-year students, which is based in a five-star hotel and deals with housekeeping issues. Students work in a team of five to solve challenges. One student wears Oculus glasses, and the others see what he or she is seeing on a screen.

"We have received excellent feedback from the students who appreciate the use of technology in the class. The whole student team is involved from the start of the experience and they can quickly see the benefits of working as a team to succeed in the game," says Mr Rochat.

"Any educator or trainer will tell you that it is hard to get students' attention with distractions coming from cellphones, computers and other devices. The virtual reality class has led to greater participation from teams, promoting team work among students. Virtual reality, we believe, may be the way holidays will be sold in future and we want students to be familiar with the technology."