An evaluation of the survival of mature students on degree courses in hospitality management in the UK
Honey, Martin Douglas
Cardiff Metropolitan University
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The hospitality industry can claim to be a significant contributor to the British economy both in terms of consumer spending and employment. Two million four hundred thousand were employed in the industry in 1994 (HCIMA, 1996). Strong demand for degree educated managers has prompted rapid growth of degrees in hospitality management. Given trends in the employment market and the objective of government to increase HE student numbers, there has been a general concern to widen and improve access, especially to (NCE, 1993). Hospitality management undergraduate courses have been subject to a general shift in the education system but little research has been conducted to gauge the extent and success of this strategy in this particular sector. Criticisms of the response of institutions to mature students have been tied with a wider argument about maintaining standards at a time of rapid expansion but little empirical-work can be found on the hospitality sector to support or counter such claims. This study explores the extent of the enrolment of adult learners on hospitality degrees in the UK and examines the relationship between entry requirements, institutional support and completion of courses. It evaluates what tutors and students perceive as important issues and makes suggestions for improving the framework for learning. Data was gathered from postal questionnaires, interviews and visits to universities in the summer of 1995. The thesis concludes that whilst increasing numbers of mature hospitality management undergraduates have gained access to courses they have a significantly lower survival rate than younger students. There is a difference in perception between students and tutors concerning factors which improve or otherwise the learning scenario. Equality of access does not necessarily equate with equality of opportunity. The evidence from this study indicates that institutions need to enhance support mechanisms to ensure completion once enrolled, as well as further widening access to under represented groups of adult learners.
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