27 February 2007

The University of Queensland (UQ) and the Blue Mountains International Hotel Management Schools P/L (BMIHMS) have announced the signing of a five-year strategic partnership agreement.

Under the agreement, UQ's School of Tourism will quality endorse the BMIHMS Bachelor of Business, delivered by Blue Mountains Hotel School in Leura, New South Wales, and the Australian International Hotel School in Canberra.

Professor Chris Cooper, who is the Head of UQ's School of Tourism, said that at a time when the Australian tourism and hospitality industry was suffering a considerable skills shortage, education institutions needed to "be clever" about making new linkages which delivered skilled graduates to the workforce.

"Both the University and private education sectors must be in a position to provide industry with a reliable supply of capable, enthusiastic and knowledgeable tourism and hospitality professionals," Professor Cooper said.

"This partnership will allow our institutions to offer mutual support and recognition of quality tourism and hospitality management programs.

"The UQ School of Tourism is uniquely positioned as the only dedicated tourism school within the Group of Eight sandstone universities, as well as the only University School in Australia to receive certification from the United Nations World Tourism Organization (UNWTO).

"Similarly, Blue Mountains Hotel School is internationally recognised as a leading private education provider and the first in Australia to receive certification from the UNWTO.

"Together we have a great potential to enhance each others` activities and ensure that our programs continue to satisfy industry needs, in addition to being academically rigorous."

Mr Guy Bentley, CEO of BMIHMS and Principal of the Blue Mountains Hotel School, said the partnership signalled a new direction for the two schools.

"We are breaking ranks with other private hotel schools in Australia, which are either part-owned by, or closely affiliated with universities, and deliver their qualifications," Mr Bentley said.

"BMIHMS has the expertise and experience to deliver its own accredited Bachelor of Business qualification quality endorsed by UQ, one of Australia's leading universities.

"It is a mark of our academic maturity and confidence that BMIHMS has formed this alliance.

"We are delighted to have such a prestigious strategic partner with a worldwide reputation for research and honoured to have our own Bachelor of Business degree program receive this endorsement."

In addition to endorsement, the institutions would look for other opportunities to collaborate, Mr Bentley said. Postgraduate students from the Australian International Hotel School would benefit from UQ's strong research base through a guest lecturer program.

BMIHMS and UQ will also use this agreement to pursue joint research projects in the tourism industries. Both BMIHMS and AIHS are members of the ORION Hotel Schools global alliance, which will work closely with UQ to establish The ORION Research and Consultancy Centre in 2007.

For further information, please contact:
Sarah Schindeler School of Tourism, The University of Queensland, mobile 0410 136 147, email: s.schindeler@uq.edu.au.