Following our recent coverage about the Dusit Hospitality Education conference and the division’s plans for greater synergies with the rest of Dusit, we wondered what that means for Dusit Thani College and the student, learning and teaching experience. So with pens, notebooks, and video cameras in hands, we went to speak to the college’s Acting Rector, Khun Atthawet Prougestaporn, and Dean of International Programmes, Khun Simon Lloyd, to learn more about the latest developments and what’s in store for the college in 2020 and beyond. Being our typical nosy selves, we asked a few personal questions too. Check out the Q&A and video below to discover what we found out. And feel free to leave your own questions for the college in the comments!
When he’s not busy cheering on Liverpool FC or catching up reading his favourite history books, Khun Atthawet is busy charting the future of Dusit Thani College. Here are some of the highlights from our conversation.
That it gives me the opportunity to never stop learning and simultaneously make a positive difference. I’ve been at the college for 15 years now, in various roles, and in my latest position I am able to fuse all of this experience to help develop the college and its curriculums, while also driving synergies with the hotels and the rest of the Dusit group.
I wouldn’t say it’s my biggest achievement, but something I feel very proud of is setting up our onsite coffee shop, which is run exclusively by our students. This is an idea I came up with many years ago. Fundamentally, we want our students to be able to work and put their knowledge into practice. The coffee shop allows them to do this as they have to run the whole operation – managing everything in a bid to make a profit. This is a final-year project for our culinary students, and it combines all the skills that they have learned in order to be future entrepreneurs. We are now looking to do something similar with the hotels, starting this year.
First, we will link our Bangkok Campus with Dusit Princess Srinakarin Bangkok, and our Pattaya Campus with Dusit Thani Pattaya, to offer internships and placements for our students. This will include Room Division and Food & Beverage Department placements for our first-year students, and supervisor level positions for our third-year students (who will be able to mentor our first-year students too). The idea is to offer good all-round, real-world experience to equip our students with the knowledge and skills they need for successful careers. Linking with the hotel will help to boost the appeal of our hospitality management programmes to potential students. The hotel, meanwhile, will benefit from a ready pool of talent as well as reduced costs in terms of staffing during placements. Blended learning online will enhance the learning experience. Once the project at Dusit Princess Srinakarin is successful, we will look at doing similar partnerships with other Dusit properties and business units worldwide.
The needs of students are continuously shifting and we must continuously upgrade and enhance our curriculum – especially in terms of hotel management. We have to recognise that the competency skills needed for hospitality and managing hotels can today be applied to a wide range of industries, and we must offer courses and programmes that reflect this, and ultimately attract students to learn with us. When the college first opened in 1993, it was to serve the needs of the industry. That’s still the case today, of course, but we must also serve the needs of the students too. So it’s important that we understand the market, recognise that new competing colleges are set to open soon, and do our best to appeal to students by giving them the opportunity to be competent for careers that may not exist today, but which may well exist tomorrow. To achieve this, we cannot only do what works now, or what has worked in the past. We need to change and evolve. We need to expand our horizons. We need to foster an adaptable, positive, innovative mindset among our students. And the synergies we are exploring with our hotels will help us to achieve this.
That we don’t just offer Bachelor degree programmes. We also have programmes called ‘Experience-based Credit Transfer,’ which means if you’ve worked for a while in in the tourism and hospitality industry but don’t have a degree, you can convert your experience towards earning a Bachelor’s or Master’s degree. Instead of studying four years for a bachelor’s degree, for example, your experience may mean you only have to study for one and a half years. A Master’s degree would be less than one year. In this case, your experience is currency – and it’s a great option for anyone already working in the industry who is looking to improve their CV. The courses are open to all Dusit staff too. We are also now looking at launching flexible, modular courses which students with jobs can select to learn on weekends, or whenever they are free, so it doesn’t disrupt their working hours.
Two main things. The first is to have the complete structure of the new curriculum in place. As mentioned earlier, our goal is to make it flexible and offer a blend of short courses and bachelor degree courses. We have most of the pieces in place; we just need to blend them. Once we do, we will have a very flexible product that can tap into any market. The second goal is to have more students. Today, there are around a million seats at universities available, but only 600,000 students applying to university. The positive side is that the tourism and hospitality industry is continuing to grow, which means those who are in this industry have lots of opportunities to grow too. But there is a lot of competition, and we have to adapt ourselves and continuously evolve our offerings to remain competitive. Last year we made steps towards tackling this issue by launching our new marketing strategies together with our new Sales and Marketing Team, and by bringing in Khun Simon as Dean of international Programmes (whom you will meet in the video below) who is tasked with opening more international programmes to balance with our Thai offerings. So we have strong foundations in place, and in 2020 we will build on them.
We are one family – the same group – and we are positioned to do great things together. If there is anything that we can do to help you, please let us know. I am very open to discuss any and all possibilities for synergies, especially special projects which we can collaborate on to drive mutual growth.