Sun.Star Cebu <> Monday, June 16, 2008
BY NANCY R. CUDIS, Sun.Star Staff Reporter
TO give its students an edge—in terms of competencies—and to respond to the demands of the hotel industry for qualified and well-trained graduates, the University of San Carlos (USC) is integrating the Australian Qualification Framework (AQF) into its hotel and restaurant management (HRM) program.
Introduced in 1995, AQF is a unified system of national qualifications in Australian schools, vocational education, training centers and universities.
The qualifications to be offered by USC’s Department of Hospitality Management (DHM) under this framework are Certificate
2 in Hospitality, Certificate 4 in Hospitality, Diploma in Hospitality, Advanced Diploma in Hospitality and a Bachelor of Science in HRM degree.
This year, there are more than 300 USC HRM freshmen who will first experience the processes and, eventually, the benefits of AQF.
To ensure that the program will offer a comprehensive competency-based learning environment, USC partnered with the Australasian Hotel College that holds its current operations in Macau, as well as with the Corporate Academy based in Singapore.
Australasian Hotel College executive director Antonio Guijjaro said that AQF brings a “relevant blend” to the academic or knowledge component of the degree program and assist industry players in filling up the “incredible demand” for skilled students or graduates.
“You now have the best of both worlds. University of San Carlos is a Catholic university. Apart from your academics, you now have a foundation that is AQF, plus you will have a lot of hotel industry connections,” he told parents and students during the orientation of the AQF integration last Saturday at the USC Law and Business School.
He said that with AQF, students or graduates have greater chances of working abroad, where they earn double what they get in the country.
But Marco Protacio, president of the Hotel, Restaurant and Resort Association of Cebu (HRRAC), admitted that the local hotel industry is apprehensive that graduates who will have qualifications, such as AQF, would prefer working outside the country.
He said the local hotel industry is “growing,” and achieved an annual growth of about seven to 11 percent in the past three years, in terms of revenue coming from tourism alone.
This poses a demand for more quality graduates, he said, adding that he believes that with AQF, students will be trained to “deal with reality.”
“But we do not want to deprive graduates the opportunity of learning through travel. The experience they get abroad will increase their employability or their value as a hotelier,” he said in a news conference.
“But money is not everything. To be a practitioner in this industry, he must have the passion to serve,” he added.
DHM chair Cecil Ganatalao said that despite the AQF integration, the tuition and the HRM subject listings are the same,
except for qualification framework fee.
“While other degree program enrollees are only required to give a down payment of P2,000, an HRM enrollee will have to shell out a down payment of P6,125. The P4,125 difference is the first half of the payment of this international accreditation for your child or scholar. It doesn’t go to the school,” she explained.
She said the AQF requires competency-based methodologies, prompting USC to involve more participation from the industry players while retaining its four core faculty clusters—general curriculum, food and beverage production, food and beverage service, and tourism—to help identify the demands of these sectors and the needs of their students.
Apart from the regular exams the school provides, an HRM student will also be assessed based on AQF. If he will pass, he will receive a certification that states he is work-ready or competent on certain areas of hotel work.
“(He is) assured that he can already work even if he has not yet finished his four-year course. If he did not pass the AQF standards, he still have three chances to repeat,” Ganatalao said.
Protacio said local hotels would hire graduates with qualifications like AQF, which is why HRRAC will support the “promising endeavor.”