With over 100 years of academic excellence, MODUL University is the world’s oldest and only institution offering degrees in the tourism and hospitality industry from the age of 14 to Ph.D.
“Hospitality industry in our definition is passion for service. In Austria, we grow up with hospitality from a very early age. It becomes part of every youth’s DNA and this is basically reflected in MODUL University as well. We look at the college of MODUL which was founded back in 1908 and it’s all about providing hospitality degrees for pupils from the age of 14 onwards. So, for us, hospitality is an integral part of the society and it needs to be cherished and lived from a very early age in order for it to be sustainable. When looking at Dubai and the UAE in general, having positioned itself as a major hospitality and tourism hub not only in the region but to the wider globe by today we feel that the same DNA needs to apply. The growth in the sector over the last five years has been quite impressive and we feel that what the UAE government is doing to sustain this growth is magnificent. We definitely would like to be part of it and therefore we feel hospitality is a very rewarding sector to be in at this point in time.
“We put particular emphasis on teaching not only the theoretical part but also the vocational part of hospitality. In the absence of a clear and profound understanding of what it takes for a hands-on approach in hospitality a big chunk of that education is missing. Looking at the current offerings in the UAE, we felt there is an adamant gap to address that vocational offering. This is where MODUL comes in to bridge that education gap between theory and practice. A recent offering that we have launched is ‘Hospitality Backstage’. Basically, what we are doing is we take high school students backstage into hospitality. We take them to our partner hotels and show them the kitchen, make them cook their own meal, serve it, take them to the laundry department, the back offices to do the booking and show them what it takes to pull up a five star or luxury hotel as they have experienced with their family and friends. It makes them fully capture what goes on behind the scenes. This program has been very well received not only by the schooling community but also by our partner hotels. They recognise that teaching kids hospitality and its real values makes it an attractive place to consider in terms of working in the future. This is the mission that we bring to the table at MODUL.”
Addressing the mind-set that the hospitality is a rather demanding industry, Zaid said, “Unfortunately, this profession is not seen as rewarding and we take it as our mission to change that perception. Last year in UAE, over 530,000 jobs were created in the hospitality sector which makes this sector the largest employer by far and and the biggest contributor to the GDP. However,if you look at the higher education only 1% of the students elect hospitality as their future study program – and this does not quite make sense. In today’s environment, you choose a study where employability is guaranteed. People need to understand that hospitality can be a beautiful starting point of anyone’s career. Looking at MODUL’s career centre and the alumni a lot of people started in the hospitality sector and then ventured out to become fully fledged managers, working in marketing, business, or becoming entrepreneurs, etc. Hospitality gives you a holistic approach to how you can run a business because no matter how tough it gets you have to smile. No other industry does that.
In Austria, MODUL has a fully developed training hotel – it is operated, run and managed by students. They are at the front desk, kitchen, and housekeeping – they learn from doing. Our vision is to have the same or to replicate that successful DNA here in Dubai. We are starting off with a state-of-the-art campus utilising our partner hotels and steadily we will build towards the training hotel with complete infrastructure.
Expo 2020 is one of the reasons why MODUL University was elected to come to Dubai. Owned by the Chamber of Commerce, it is a big step for MODUL University to go outside the borders of Austria “Expo 2020 has been a magnificent boost to that decision-making by the Chamber. We are already in touch with the Expo 2020 committee where we are exploring a mutually beneficial collaboration of opportunities. We think with the Expo coming to Dubai and the target of having over 1000 hotels here by then grants us an extraordinary opportunity and we are very happy to be part of it,” explained Zaid.
A study without practical knowledge is half the bill particularly in today’s competitive environment. Students have to be multilingual and have work experience in order to find jobs – this is where industry tie-ups are an important part of the contribution. “The employability of MODUL graduates has been at three months on average and this is quite impressive. Here in Dubai, we are owned by Dubai Investments so obviously we have very strong ties with the industry and shall try to capitalise that and will replicate the success that we have back in Austria.”
GETEX 2016 is another commitment that MODUL is excited to be part of as one of the newest players on the block. “Having obtained the license from KHDA, we intend to use GETEX as a platform to communicate our offering to the Dubai community and the wider audience. We have structured great initiatives like our merit scholarships, Austrian quizzes where winners can avail great prizes and scholarships to join MODUL University.”