How De La Salle University Dasmariñas combines old hardware with modern software to create a responsive hospitality and tourism program.
With replicas of Gen. Emilio Aguinaldo’s house, the grand Hotel de Oriente of Binondo, and other historical landmarks standing at the De La Salle University-Dasmariñas (DLSU-D)’s very green surroundings, the school looks more like a heritage park than a place where professors teach.
DLSU-D, however, thinks it can have the best of both worlds. At one end, school officials hope that the colonial setup will remind students of what Filipinos can be proud of in their architecture and space. And, at the other, because of the school’s attraction potential, officials want the set-up to serve as their tourism and hospitality students’ marketing laboratory.
The strategic partnership forms a part of the program that works for students hopeful to gain lead. The program of the university’s College of Tourism and Hospitality Management is one of those responsive to modern demands, juggling with both CHED’s prescribed curricula and the fast-paced development in the industry.
For instance, the revised DLSU-D curricula, used by the hospitality and tourism students almost two years now, has focused on the results of an updated tracer study. In 2011, DLSU-D learned that most of their graduates from the college from 2006 to 2010 are in the hotel (20 percent) and airline (18 percent) sectors. Top-hiring industries also include F&B (11 percent) and travel and tour services (eight percent). As a result, the college decided to introduce new electives that will delve into these specific sectors like airline operations (on top of a transportation management course), cruise sales and management, and leisure and recreation management.
“We could hope to enforce what we are strong at right now,” said Paul Notorio, the college’s research coordinator, who believes that the statistics syncs with the ongoing hotel construction boom and will remain to be a trend for the case of DLSU-D graduates.
Among DLSU-D’s strengths that the tracer study revealed is placement for employment, said Grace Cella Rebuelta-Mejia, college dean. At a time when schools are being pressured more by the industry to be demand-driven, Mejia thinks that introducing a school-to-work transition program is long overdue in universities.
In their case, the Student Wellness Center, which is equivalent of a regular guidance office, organizes a “school-to-work” seminar every year to help DLSU-D graduating students understand the realities of life after college. Mejia said this can at least prepare them for the demands of recruitment.
The career assistance program doesn’t end there. The Alumni Relations and Placement Office then introduces the outgoing students to the vast network of DLSU alumni who helps schoolmates get jobs.
Beyond just being employable, Mejia also wants more entrepreneurs among her students. One in every 20 graduates surveyed in the tracer study claimed they are self-employed. Mejia hopes this can improve by leaning on a more practical approach; instead of business plans being the final output of their entrepreneurship class, students must prove that the feasible can be real by selling and profiting from their own cupcakes.
As much as the facilities are modern, the school layout classic, and the program as responsive, DLSU-D is not without any difficult roads ahead. The college, like most HRM schools in the country, finds a hard time getting laboratory instructors as schools compete with the opportunity cost of practitioners earning more in the industry. Equally strong concerns are issues of survival such as the K-to-12 program and stable industry partnerships to ensure OJT slots amid competition for limited training venues.
The school also looked beyond its gates for bigger problems it hopes to help resolve. In 2011, DLSU-D administration launched the Cavite Development Research Program, which will fund faculty and student research focused on the province’s sustainable future, including eco-tourism, for the next 50 years. Select professors of the college, in fact, are drafting Cavite’s tourism development plan.
“We’re doing this one step at a time,” said Mejia of the college’s plans. A quick audit of what the school has achieved already hints of the idea that DLSU-D has flown way ahead of the pack, focusing not just on its bread and butter but, equally importantly, on people and planet.