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Kunal Vasudeva: The industry will be back into the game by the time our first batch graduates in 2022

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As the pandemic has disrupted traditional business operations, educational institutions in the world over are striving to make the students future-ready amid the uncertain times. Kunal Vasudeva, COO, Indian School of Hospitality (ISH), shares the institute’s strategic solutions to the challenges posed by the pandemic, in a bid to keep the students’ course programme seamless 

How has the e-learning and skilling process at ISH been during the pandemic-induced nationwide lockdown?

E-learning over time has gained a lot of popularity as it makes learning convenient and accessible at any time and anywhere. Once a niche form of education, online education is now becoming the new norm.

At Indian School of Hospitality, we were conscious of investing heavily in technology, including Samsung Flipboards, projectors, 4000 Lumen Cameras, microphones on every desk in all classrooms including a virtual classroom. Since its commencement, the lectures and classes were recorded and stored on a learning management system (LMS) which was then made available to be accessed by the students via links shared by their concerned faculty members. This enabled the Institute to seamlessly shift their curriculum from traditional to online without hampering the education of the students.

We have always been very focused on developing skill sets of the student in addition to encouraging them to be the leaders of change, for which we have been putting in constant efforts to make them industry-ready by organising various online sessions with experts to help students understand the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic on the Industry. The online sessions organized gave students an insight into the industry along with making them aware of the upcoming skills and fields that are emerging with time. In addition, these interactive sessions helped students to get their queries and doubts addressed regarding the changing environment and what to look forward to.

E-learning has proven to be very resourceful during the course of time. Not just in these times, but even for future it has become necessary for not only the students but also for the institutions to learn and adapt to new and upcoming methods of teaching and learning.

Your preparedness for re-opening college in the new normal?

Our decision to open the campus in August dovetails government/university regulations. Any possible change in the opening date as notified by the government will potentially affect our August reopening plan still cannot be ruled out. That being said, we have started the academic session almost 07 weeks earlier this term to ensure the continuity of the academic rigour.

Going forward, in addition to upholding all health & safety protocols, we’ll be seeing smaller, more concentrated student batches. Schedules will become more flexible, and we’ll be seeing ‘blended’ learning – a mix of on-campus classes and online classes taken from the comfort of home.

While students are having mixed sentiments about pursuing hotel management, how are you at ISH assuring them with fool-proof career prospects?

Hospitality is much more than just hotels, with one in 10 of all jobs worldwide falling under its umbrella, the art of hospitality is involved in some of the biggest jobs across the globe – banking & finance, travel & tourism, beauty & wellness, consulting, private equity, automobiles, aviation, luxury &retail, restaurants and even entrepreneurship. It’s a multifaceted world filled with talent that is just as versatile and colourful as the industry and we prepare our students for every possible field. This often gives students a rich platform of career opportunities to choose from straight after graduation, with many often choosing to pursue their own business venture or entrepreneurial start-up.

It’s important to understand how much more there is to the world of hospitality. It’s an education that turns graduates into flexible and adaptable talent, ready to make their path in some of the biggest sectors of the globe.

Moreover, we are confident that once our first batch will be graduating in 2022, the industry will be back into the game and we will continue our track records of exceptional placements and internships.

As the pandemic has crippled many with financial distress, how are you adjusting the fee model for the aspiring hospitality students?

We understand the situation and the hardships families across the country are going through because of this pandemic. But we want them to know that our education remains accessible to all passionate and meritorious students who wish to study with us, at Indian School of Hospitality. Thus, we launched a series of financial initiatives. Depending on every applicant’s need and circumstances, we will offer a portfolio of scholarships, interest-free loans or fee adjustments. The new Student Support Programme is a duty-of-care initiative taken under our industry-funded ‘Flourish Foundation’. It is a ‘Fee Deferment’ plan which is being extended to parents at zero interest cost, payable only after the student starts earning. At ISH, it’s always been about accepting the talented and driven – and we pride ourselves on empowering those who deserve globally benchmarked education.

Apart from these measures, we recently launched a virtual talent search series to find the best students and fostering them into incredible leaders. Young Chef 2020 and Young Entrepreneur are the first two in these series. The winner selected is of course rewarded with a scholarship.

What is the status of the placement jobs assigned to the final-year students at ISH? How does the future of hospitality education look?

Our first batch of hospitality management students are expected to graduate in 2022, by then we expect the industry to improve and are sure we will continue our track record of excellent placements and internships.

Even though our institution primarily focuses on hospitality we include training in various other aspects as well. For instance, we offer a Postgraduate Diploma in Service Operations Management, that is targeted towards young graduates and professionals exploring a career in the service sector under various operation verticals. It is a course tailor-made for both recent and working graduates who wish to become human resource, marketing, customer service managers in the services sector.

Looking forward, I think students aspiring to study hospitality management will continue to grow as they gain the skills to advance in industries such as luxury, retail, consulting, banking, real estate and more, so when the world reopens for business, these candidates will have options to find a new career in so many fields that will be flourishing again.

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