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What is it Like to Study Hospitality, Leisure, Recreation & Tourism?

Hospitality, Leisure, Recreation & Tourism is a wide subject area, so it's a good idea to find out just what it's like to study the subject before applying.

Click on each name to read their story, or scroll through:

Lara – Robert Gordon

Lara Senhen photo

Lara, 22, is originally from Germany. However, having come to the UK to study Hospitality Management at Robert Gordon University (RGU), Lara is now looking to stay put and progress to postgraduate study. We caught up with Lara to see how she's getting on in the final year of her course:

What inspired you to study Hospitality, Leisure, Recreation & Tourism?

Since a very young age, I had the chance to travel with my family and friends to destinations abroad. Most of the time we stayed at hotels which ranged from two stars to five stars based in a range of countries such as Italy, Egypt, Tunisia, Morocco, Greece or Austria. Every time I was on holiday, I realised that Hospitality is a fascinating industry which depends greatly on the service delivered by people.

Furthermore, I think that it is great that the hospitality industry creates memories and I just wanted to be part of it and create memories for other people.

Why did you choose to study at your university?

I chose RGU because they had (and still have) a high graduate employability rating, modern facilities and offered a wide range of sports, which is important for me.

What do you like about the course?

The course gives me theoretical insights into the hospitality industry, but also acknowledges that practical experience is important. We had to undertake a 4 weeks placement in first year, had cooking courses, had to develop our own event and in 3rd year could undertake a 6 month or 1 year placement. Furthermore, we had the opportunity to study abroad to gain international experience.

What learning methods does your university employ?

The learning methods are quite diverse. We usually have lectures and tutorials, but also have guest speakers coming in. Furthermore, they put a high emphasis on independent studies and reading.

What aspects of the course do you find difficult? Does the university support you well?

In the beginning it was difficult for me to get used to academic writing, but the university supports you greatly if needed, offering a wide range of study skills sessions and information.

How do you fund your studies?

As I am an EU-student my student fees are paid by SAAS. Fortunately my living expenses are funded by my family so I don’t have to take a part-time job.

What about the social side of things at university, does a Hospitality, Leisure, Recreation & Tourism student find much time for it? What sort of things do you get up to?

If you are organised you can definitely find time to get involved with the social aspects of the universities such as sports clubs or societies. For example, I am in my final year and found time to participate actively in three different sport clubs.

What do you plan to do once you’ve graduated? If you’re moving on to postgraduate study please tell us about your career ambitions as well.

Once I graduate from RGU, I am planning on continuing my academic career with postgraduate study. At the moment I am looking into studying International Business and/or Management in order to understand the wider environment of the Hospitality industry.

How has your university supported your career aspirations?

My university has definitely supported me during my application for a Masters degree. Asking a lecturer to write reference for me was not a problem at all.

Nabila – Huddersfield

Nabila is currently doing her placement in Denver, Colorado and is really enjoying the experience. Natalie says:

When I decided that Huddersfield was my first choice, I knew I was making the best decision. Meeting Fiona, Derek and other lecturers around the university you could tell instantly how dedicated they were to ensuring you succeeded in your university course. Although Huddersfield is a small town compared with London; you feel right at home as soon as you start your course, meeting new people and experiencing exciting adventures like field trips to Malta. 

Although I have faced difficulties with my university work, I've always had the support of my course leader and lecturers to ensure I come out with the best grades. Hospitality management at Huddersfield University encouraged me to develop my interpersonal skills and become passionate about my future. 

Right now I'm currently doing my placement year in Denver, Colorado. This would have not been possible without the university.

Natalie – Huddersfield

Natalie is currently on placement in the UK.

I chose the University of Huddersfield for many reasons and felt that it gave me a variety of options and possibilities. The course I wanted to study was Hospitality Management, but I also wanted to continue with German from A level.

When searching for universities, I found that Huddersfield was the only one that offered a combined course consisting of 4 hospitality management modules and two German modules. After discovering this I then went to the university's open day where I met the course leader and instantly got a good vibe from the university, and homely feeling from the town itself. Huddersfield was my first choice.

One of the main deciders for me was the option to do a placement year – you take a year out and work in a hospitality industry of your choice. This includes the possibility of staying in the UK or travelling to many different places abroad.

I am currently enjoying a placement year with Hilton Hotels in Leeds and strongly recommend that you take the opportunity to do a placement. A placement enables you to learn and widen your skills set for when you leave university, as well as gaining some life experience and earning money.

I found that being on a smaller course has really benefitted me. You have more one to one contact with your tutors and get to know them personally, as well as being guided and supported throughout the course. I have found that the tutors are always been very helpful and responsive to emails and assisted me with any problems. The course combines group work, independent work and practical work, all of which are valuable skills in the hospitality industry.

Natasha – Huddersfield

Natasha graduated from Huddersfield in 2010 with a degree in Hospitality Management. She is now Front Office Trainer for the Red Carnation Hotel Collection.

After visiting a few universities, I knew that the University of Huddersfield was for me – the student village, the course sizes, and the friendly faces all helped my decision.

The course itself was great. The design of the modules and the knowledge of the lecturers make this course superb. All of the lecturers have operational experience, which is a huge bonus.

With a small course size there is the benefit of having easy access to all tutors. In addition it meant that all the students formed a great bond, which still exists four years later. The support you have from each other really helps, especially when working events together and studying for your final year exams!

I completed a placement year for Loch Fyne Restaurants in Reading, a fantastic practical experience, and so important for any job in the hospitality world. I really don’t think I would be in the role I am now without this experience to add to my part-time roles during my time as a student. 

The placement allowed me to experience work as a chef in the kitchen, working all sections for 6 months, and 6 months front of house, where I trained new team members, supervised shifts and completed weekly paperwork and staff rotas.

After graduating, I started a graduate programme with Red Carnation Hotels, where I began my journey on the front desk. The idea of the programme is to do two years – 1 year front office, 1 year food and beverage – and to gain the experience to become a junior manager (with the potential to become a general manager in the future).

During my front office time I learned how to be a receptionist, night manager, reservationist and duty manager. I was fortunate enough to spend time in central revenue which taught me more of the technical side. I was then asked to provide maternity cover in the HR department, where I found my niche. After completing the maternity cover, I finished my front desk time before being approached to see if I would like to apply for a front office trainer post.

What can I say – I’ve been here for 4 years now and I love my job. I induct all the new staff for our six London properties and train our front office team on our PMS system, reservations, upselling and revenue. I also train other team members in more technical skills. I am now accredited to be able to provide others with their training qualifications too. No two days are the same and I offer support to some of our overseas properties.

In the past six months I have travelled to Dorset, Ireland (staying in a castle!), Guernsey and Geneva. I get to stay in four and five star hotels where everyone is truly attentive and I get to sample the amazing food on offer. On top of all of this I have maintained a strong relationship with the University of Huddersfield – every year we present about the company, our placement, and graduate opportunities. We have had some wonderful people join the company as a result.

Each year I get to see all of the improvements to the campus, meet all of the keen new students, and have a good catch up with the lecturers – those who supported me and provided me with the knowledge and skills to help me get to where I am now, and where my opportunities for the future are endless!