10 years of pioneering hospitality education

Edge Hotel School and Wivenhoe House Hotel are celebrating the 10-year anniversary as one of the UK’s leading vocational university degrees, pioneering future generations of esteemed hoteliers, hospitality and event managers.

The hotel school has graduated just under 300 students since 2012 through practical learning at Wivenhoe House – a fully commercial hotel – many of which have gone on to work in managerial positions at top hotels including The Lanesborough, The Savoy and Coworth Park.

The initiative was a joint venture between the University of Essex and the Edge Foundation, offering students an accelerated two year or a standard three-year bachelor’s degree in Hotel Management or Event Management whilst gaining a full range of experience and knowledge on the job – a concept not trialled in the UK before.

The hands-on hotel school was developed 10 years ago from the Edge Foundation’s vision for a more flexible and dynamic higher education landscape which helps prepare young people for the real world. Unlike other degrees which offer an optional extra year ‘in industry’ to gain practical experience, students’ experience is integrated through contextualised learning during the programme, working in all the departments of the hotel to gain hands on knowledge of the hotel operation and management.

On celebrating the anniversary, Edge Hotel School’s Principal Andrew Boer said: “This is a significant milestone for us, having taken on an ambition that hadn’t been accomplished by any other hotel school back in 2012 and watching the model work so effectively over the years. Taking the time to reflect upon so many success stories is hugely important to us and should by no means be overlooked amid so much conversation around skill shortages and staff challenges. It’s important to shine a spotlight on just how much progress has been made in the past decade with the positioning of hospitality careers and we hope this approach to practical and professional learning is a model that can be followed by many other educational establishments in the future.”

Edge Foundation’s Chief Executive Alice Barnard said: “10 years ago the Edge Foundation and the University of Essex had a vision, to create the first hotel school of its kind in the UK. Undergraduates at the school would undertake degree level qualifications, validated by the University of Essex while working alongside industry professionals to run Wivenhoe House Hotel. We wanted graduates to leave with both the high-quality skills the industry needs and a solid, professional understanding of the workplace.The Edge Hotel School has been a phenomenal success and proven that the concept works, however the most important measure of success are the destinations of graduates. We have already seen our first General Manager and look forward to following our alumni as they make their way in the industry.”

Edge Hotel School is hosting a celebratory dinner at Wivenhoe House Hotel with some of its top supporters from the industry including Chair of the Manchester Hoteliers Association, Adrian Ellis, Chief Executive of the Institute of Hospitality Management, Robert Richardson, Master Innholders’ Secretary, Wallace Vincent, and many others.