With a dedicated hotel school offering degree programmes in everything from culinary arts to event management, and catering facilities that few can match, GMIT is probably the best place in the country from which to launch a successful career in the hospitality sector.
The institute was the first to offer a degree in hotel management — which launched in 1977, when degrees were a rarity in the RTCs, as the ITs were then called — and has been at the forefront of hospitality education since. GMIT is the only institute of technology to have a dedicated hotel school — most others will provide hospitality courses through schools of business — and offers a range of degree courses which allow students to enter the workforce with significant real-world workplace experience.
The school, which has 1,000 students across 14 degree programmes, has an impressive history of educational excellence. Many students have gone on to open their own businesses, while GMIT hotel school graduates can be found working throughout the world, including at the helm of international companies such as the Jurys hotel group in the UK and the Prem hotel group.
One of the key features of a GMIT hotel school degree is the emphasis on practical work and real-world work experience. The school boasts an enviable range of training facilities, including two restaurants, two bars, a wine tasting laboratory, and 12 kitchens including a food product development lab, and a specialist kitchen for patisserie.
Students also benefit from two work placements during each degree programme — a 12-week placement at the end of year one, and a 30-week international placement during year two. The latter affords students the opportunity to work around the world. Placements are secured through the college’s extensive links with alumni and through the school’s dedicated links office. These placements with companies in Ireland and abroad, along with the strong practical focus of the programmes, ensures students have the advantage of graduating with a wealth of real world work experience already under their belts, a fact which makes them very employable.
The hotel school offers 16 different programmes including degree programmes in hotel management, culinary arts, bar and restaurant management, event management and public relations, retail and customer service, and tourism management.
The school also caters for those in employment who wish to change career, with a total immersion chef programme which allows students to achieve a degree in nine months. The hotel school also offers a part-time degree programme in culinary arts, ideal for people who want to change career but do not want to give up working during the transition. Further part-time programmes are also planned.
These programmes offer an excellent standard of education to students who do not have years to devote to full-time study. Last year’s Knorr Young Chef of the Year winner Billy Garvey, who had previously worked in the construction industry, was studying the nine-month accelerated chef programme when he received the accolade.
Mr Garvey is not the only GMIT student to have been honoured for impressive culinary skills. The hotel school has enjoyed considerable success at national and international competitions, particularly in the area of chocolate and sugar work. Students of the hotel school won an impressive 24 medals at this year’s Chef Ireland competition, and culinary arts students Kevin Ward and Avril O’Connor will go on to represent Ireland at the prestigious Mondial de Sucre world championships in France next year. Last year GMIT student Anthony Kelly flew the flag for Ireland at the event.
The GMIT hotel school’s reputation has grown to the point where it now enjoys a steady influx of international students, most notably from China and the US, as well as mature students. Hospitality has become an increasingly attractive discipline for those beginning or returning to third level education, as a qualification in catering or hospitality allows graduates to work anywhere in the world.
For more information on programmes at the GMIT hotel school contact the school at (091 ) 742183/(091 ) 742343 or visit www.gmit.ie/thehotelschool