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Powerful Alumni a Big Draw at Ecole Hoteliere De Lausanne

The world’s oldest hospitality management school, the Ecole hôtelière de Lausanne (EHL) in Switzerland, continues to draw students from far and wide both for its sheer breadth of experience and the powerful role of its well-connected alumni in offering a seamless connection to work opportunities across the globe.
BY Pooja Prakash |   01-01-2011

EHL's alumni hailing from over 80 countries form a formidable network of industry leaders that enable graduates to join blue chip companies which own or operate hotels, restaurants, cruise lines, banks and real estate.

Lucila Perez Mollo, Director of Admissions & Recruitment at the EHL, spoke to BrainGain’s Pooja Prakash about the curriculum, opportunities, and diversity the 118 year old school offers to international students. Here are excerpts from the interview:

Photo by: Ryncki EHL  

Can you highlight your curriculum? How is it distinct from other schools?

The program for the Bachelor of Science degree is structured so that students move from a solid grounding in hospitality service, through general management courses, to advanced courses in hospitality management strategy and increased opportunities for specialization. In their final year, students bring together everything they have learned as part of a major Student Business Project.

Two internships form an integral part of the program: the first in operations and the second offering hotel management training. These internships provide students with the real-life experience which will give them a flying start in the workplace and set the stage for a successful career in hospitality.

One of the factors that distinguishes EHL from other hotel schools is the unique approach of balancing the “arts and sciences” of hospitality management, meaning that the curriculum focuses on hands-on operational experience but also on the management competencies required to be successful in the hospitality business.

What are some of the major components of the application for the bachelors program? What makes a student attractive to the admissions council?

EHL is looking to attract candidates who are strong academically, especially in quantitative and analytical skills, but in addition who have very strong interpersonal skills and leadership potential, whilst still being a federating force in a team. Any activities, extra-curricular or within the structure of the school system, which show these skills have been developed, are positive factors. A summer job in an operational sector of the hotel/restaurant area to prove motivation for their choice (firstly to themselves, and to us) is a plus.

Are there any common mistakes that you see in the application process—either in the interview, the essay, the resume—or things you see repeatedly and wish students wouldn't do?

Common mistakes:

A)  Essay:

Writing a motivation letter instead of addressing one of the subjects proposed;

“Generic-type” essays that don’t give any sense of who the student is and his/her enthusiasm for the field of study

B) Interview:

Lack of knowledge about the program chosen, and about the hospitality field in general

Lack of interest in current events and how these may shape the future of the hospitality industry in general

What is the work load like for incoming students?

EHL students should expect to spend long days on campus in class as well as in intense, international group work outside of the classroom. Ongoing professional training in how to work effectively and efficiently in these international teams creates a competitive advantage for students that aim at international careers in the industry.

Are there any financial aid opportunities available to self-funded international students after they're admitted?

Scholarships are available for prospective students applying to EHL's undergraduate and graduate program.

They are granted on the basis of merit and demonstrated financial need to outstanding students who have successfully completed the various steps of the selection process.

The amounts granted to incoming students may vary from "Tuition and compulsory fees" scholarships, to scholarships covering half of the tuition fees. Scholarships cover the entire period of study at EHL, provided that the results of the student are satisfying.

For currently enrolled students, EHL has created a “hardship fund” which may help the student cover the expenses corresponding to half of the tuition fees for a maximum of one year.

Is there any sort of field of specialization among your students and what industries do they tend to go into after graduating?

During the last year of the Bachelor program, students have many specializations to choose from, such as: Finance, Marketing and Management of Small and Medium Enterprises.

Approximately 60% of graduating students choose employment within an international hotel chain or independent hotels, 8% work in the Food and Beverage and restaurant business, 9% in Consulting Services, 5% in Banking, Real Estate and Finance and a small percentage in other sectors such as event management, education, luxury brand management, healthcare, IT & Multimedia.

What are the post-graduation employment numbers for EHL? Do you offer anything equivalent to America’s Optional Practical Training system in Switzerland? Can international students work in the country after graduating?

Upon graduation, approximately 70% of our students find employment immediately and receive an average of 2.5 job offers. At least 45% of the graduating students decide to accept employment in Switzerland, with an average annual starting salary of CHF 60,000. Every term, we welcome approximately 90 companies on campus many of whom are alumni.

For non-European students, it usually depends on the employer and their willingness to sponsor a student and help with the process of obtaining a residence permit. Swiss authorities have established quotas which regulate the maximum number of non-Swiss citizens who can be granted a Swiss work permit.

How will you describe the culture and diversity of your program?

The programs at EHL have a global focus and the subjects taught aim at transferring know-how and knowledge within an international perspective.EHL’s community is extremely international. The student body at EHL comprises 89 nationalities. Nearly 52% of the students enrolled at EHL are international students. EHL has one of the most widely international, professionally experienced and socially active alumni networks of any hospitality management school in the world today.

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