Can we make ‘university hospitality’ a thing?

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University hospitality refers to the connection between university students and the provision of services for university students to create an environment for a positive learning experience; and can reimagine the student-institution relationship

20 January, 2023, 09:30 am

Last modified: 20 January, 2023, 10:01 am

Clean and attractive lounges and conference rooms are all essential university facilities.
Photo: Noor-A-Alam

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Clean and attractive lounges and conference rooms are all essential university facilities.
Photo: Noor-A-Alam

Hospitality can be performed through various means, this is the sector’s distinguishing feature; and these bear influence over culture, society, branding and leadership. And, it involves a great number of people, places, interactions and touchpoints. The interest of a host to welcome guests, attend to their needs and make them feel at ease, remains the most central element of hospitality.

As a result, the host-guest relationship becomes anchored on a reciprocal sense of welcome between those who act as hosts (for example, any hotel, tourist attraction, or airline) and those who are recognised as guests (for example, hotel guests, travellers and passengers). 

Can we not foresee the benefits of building positive teaching and learning experiences between guests (for example, students and guardians) and hosts (for example, schools, colleges, and universities)? 

Our country’s education system is still struggling to keep up with the student population. There is a great deal of unhappiness pertaining to their education and development. Education institutes claim ‘issues’ lie with students (this could possibly mean students’ attitudes, behaviour, etc) while students and guardians claim educational institutes have severe limitations. However, the idea of hospitality is that guests (in this case students) are always right.

As a result, we must prioritise our students in order to provide them with the highest possible hospitality to establish a hospitable nation.

Universities should be seen as places where hospitality is provided, giving rise to the innovative idea of university hospitality. The reasons behind this are that many students come from low-income families and may be hesitant, uncertain or confused about what to do and how to do it. 

On the other hand, observations confirm that a portion of students seeks admission to private universities merely to avoid the detrimental culture of today’s public universities. Some may even be called ‘too ambitious’ and led to feel discouraged to try for enrolment in good public universities. 

As a result, some uncertain groups of students enrol in private universities with high hopes and preconceived ideas of education quality in exchange for the high cost. On the other hand, a lack of student residence, healthy food, safety, and certification, as well as bureaucratic formalities continue to exist in public universities. 

To address the expectations for services, interpersonal contacts, and emotional well-being of its numerous students, including stakeholders and guardians, a university may provide a variety of forms of hospitality. 

When a university is the host, the host-student relationship generates a multitude of dynamic social interactions within this environment. From the admissions process through the graduation ceremony, students should have a positive experience and emotional involvement with the university so that they will feel grateful to give back to society and feel responsible for contributing to the future generation. 

In other words, students will co-create more opportunities for social development.

In reality, the proposed strategy has the ability to provide an iterative action framework for UGC. It may serve as the foundation for actual university hospitality efforts, encouraging university collaboration and strategic planning processes that can improve the students’ and guardians’ perception of higher education. Thus, it is important to advocate for university branding efforts, both locally and internationally.

The concept has the potential to stimulate a collaborative effort (UGC and University) to improve university hospitality through shared planning to actual implementation. 

In the following ways, university hospitality could be made possible for all. These are only some of the ways to establish university hospitality. 

Increasing scope for rest 

A clean and attractive lounge, stairwell, elevators, restrooms, cafeteria and conference rooms are all essential university facilities. 

Denial of a break or lack of space for rest on campus has ramifications for an institution’s whole learning and visiting dynamic. The simplest way to accomplish this is to start with comfortable settings whose dimensions may correspond to those of the respective themes of schools/departments, and then cover it with an exceptional and high-quality atmosphere to allow students to have a good and restful experience on campus.

Hiring suitable staff and training them with a focus on hospitality 

Given how important it is for universities to hire the appropriate people, it is a good idea to include some personality tests in the hiring process, even for entry-level positions. 

Hiring and developing competent employees is the first step toward providing excellent student service. Extroverted, sympathetic individuals who sincerely desire to make others happy should be sought out by the institution. Employees can be trained in the technicalities of their jobs, but they cannot be taught to be people-oriented. 

When it comes to training, universities must go into great detail on the complexities of the student experience and the spread of the university’s brand. Student services will surely degrade if employees are unclear about their tasks. However, all university workers, including security guards and drivers, should be trained in the best student service techniques. 

Employees should understand how every interaction with students/visitors affects the institution, whether they work in the front or back of the university. Through simulations, the institution can use gamification to train workers to respond to numerous scenarios involving students and university workers.

Acceptance of students 

Positive, proactive, caring employees, and a university policy of saying “yes” to as many students/visitors as possible can be implemented. Adopting an affirmative engagement approach with students and empowering colleagues to follow through can make great strides in the right direction. This, more than anything else, separates a prestigious university from a less prestigious one. 

The university should ensure that all employees understand that caring for students is their primary concern, regardless of their position. 

Straightforward and bilingual websites

The majority of Bangladeshi university websites, particularly those of public universities, are under construction, incomplete, or misleading. This indicates that anything that makes internet research easier for students and parents is amiss in the country. 

Similarly, calling/emailing university phone lines/domains is a cause of frustration for students; the ease with which students can acquire university-related information must be thoroughly assessed. 

Helping lizard 

A ‘helping lizard’ is a term used in the hospitality industry to describe a hotel employee that lingers in the lobby during busy times to assist visitors with check-in and check-out. Having a friendly lizard at campus exits and entry points is a simple way to make students and visitors feel welcome. 

The memory of being greeted on campus highlights how a simple gesture may have a long-lasting impact on students/visitors.

The above are just a few stimuli; there could be more innovative ideas based on the respective university capacity. But the implications are that there is a link between a student and a university when the university accepts the students with some degree of goodwill, including the experiential reception, benefits, engagement, and well-being of students, visitors or guardians. 

The trait of a noble soul that cares for all of creation through the bonds of humanity, justice and ethics can also be referred to as university hospitality. University hospitality refers to the connection between university students and the provision of services for university students to stimulate productivity and create an environment for a positive learning experience; an environment that encourages and supports students’ aspirations, career goals and creativity.

The amount of hospitality supplied by a university can considerably boost or diminish the extent to which students play a role in society or contribute to the nation.


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