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Hospitality Management – Study Abroad in Switzerland

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If you want to get a degree in Hospitality Management, studying abroad should be a serious consideration. Renowned hotel schools like EHL in Switzerland can help fast-track your career significantly, since the hospitality industry thrives on international and multicultural experiences.

Switzerland is a small country located in the centre of Europe. By small, I mean half the size of Mpumalanga, which is South Africa’s second smallest Province – just to give you an idea.

Though it may surprise you, Switzerland is one of the most internationalised countries in Europe, and the world. It is a centre point for incredibly powerful establishments. Geneva, for example, is the Swiss city where organisations like the United Nations, the World Health Organisation, and the International Committee of the Red Cross are based.

Study Hospitality Management at Ecole hôtelière de Lausanne

Let’s take a moment to consider the first images that generally pop into people’s head when they think of Switzerland. Do any of these ring a bell: Heidi, cheese, the Toblerone mountain, or Cuckoo clocks? Right you are. It’s a country famous for its breathtaking landscapes, flabbergasting efficiency, and good quality everything. Fine, it’s also my home country, so excuse me for showing off.

Given the country’s reputation, it comes to no surprise that one of the world’s top hotel schools sits in the heart of the Romandie (the French-speaking part of Switzerland), in the lakeside town of Lausanne.

The Ecole hôtelière de Lausanne (EHL) was established in 1893, and has since been responsible for producing some of the world’s best qualified hospitality management professionals. Over 2600 students are enrolled at EHL, from 107 different nationalities. Some do the French stream, and some do the English stream.

The School offers the following qualifications:

Why Should You Study Hospitality Abroad?

The very term ‘hospitality’ represents something welcoming and helpful. And accordingly, what sits at the core of the international hospitality industry across the globe is a welcoming and cordial experience. It’s extremely interlinked with Travel & Tourism, a service dedicated to people from all over the world.

Whether you work for a hotel, restaurant, cruise ship, or any other area within the industry, your professional service needs to be on point. And getting qualified abroad, at a top-notch institution like EHL, will ensure that this be the case.

EHL jean-marie_michel

Bachelor student in front of EHL’s main bar (photo © EHL / Jean-Marie Michel).

Consider the following reasons to study abroad at EHL:

1. International Experience

In an intrinsically international industry, who do you think is more interesting as a job applicant – someone who has only ever experienced their home country, or someone who has had international experience?

Without casting a gloomy shadow on our local hospitality institutions (they too offer a high level of education), the fact is that someone who has travelled or lived abroad, experienced different cultures and mentalities, and can speak multiple languages brings something unique to the table.

2. Communication Skills

One of the key aspects of communication is language – and in this industry, the more languages you speak, the better. Switzerland has 4 national languages – German (though Swiss German is quite different from the one spoken in Germany or Austria), French, Italian, and Romansh.

Ecole hôtelière de Lausanne is in the French-speaking part of the country. If you can put French on your CV, that’s a huge advantage in the hospitality industry, given the fact that it’s an official language in over 25 countries in the world.

So, if you take English (which you likely already speak, since you’re reading this article), along with another official South African language (which is also very likely to be the case, since we have 11), then your job opportunities increase big time.

  • You don’t need to speak French to study at EHL. If you do the English stream, you will get French lessons during your preparatory year.

3. Soft Skills

Soft skills convey “personal attributes that enable someone to interact effectively and harmoniously with other people.”

It’s the kind of skills employers look at when they hire someone.

Some of the most important soft skills include:

  • Leadership
  • Communication
  • Problem-Solving
  • Emotional Intelligence
  • Work Ethic
  • Computer Literacy
  • Commitment
  • Decision-making

From decades of seeing off hospitality graduates, EHL’s Editorial Team notes,

“The “soft skills” and self-confidence you will develop [are] highly sought after by international recruiters, as well as graduate school admission boards, and are one of the keys to success in your future career.”

4. Employability

As a result of the first 3 points, your employability will increase. Future employers consider everything when hiring a new professional – qualifications, experience, skills, and personality.

If you rock up with a qualification from a respected, world-renowned institution, along with international and multicultural experience, and (to top of it off) speak multiple international languages, then you automatically tick off a lot of boxes. Throw in a good reference letter or two, and make a super friendly impression, and your job application will probably blow any employer’s socks off.

5. Personal Explorations

I might start bragging again, because as someone who has spent many, many moments of my life marveling at the beauty of Lake Geneva, all I can say is that if you have the opportunity to study in Lausanne, you should grab it with both hands and feet. It’s one of the most beautiful places in the world.

Since Switzerland is so small, all it takes is a short train ride to go explore the country’s many enchanting places. You can go ski and spend a weekend in a cozy alpine chalet, or hop on the train to Basel, Switzerland’s art hub, or check out the yearly Montreux Jazz Festival. Or if you want to explore other countries, France is only a short train ride or even boat ride away.

I can keep going here, but I think I’ve made my point.

Admission Requirements at EHL

The admission requirements for international students (if you are not Swiss) who want to study towards EHL’s Bachelor in International Hospitality Management include

  • School-leaving certificate (to be examined and approved by Swiss authorities)
  • A motivational essay (you need to choose 1 of 3 preselected topics)
  • Language proficiency certificate
  • Other relevant documents (e.g. CV, work reference, awards)
  • Application fee of Sfr 175 (about R 2700 converted)
  • A Visa (if you are South African)

 You can find detailed information about the admission requirements on EHL’s website.

A Final Musing

Going abroad is one of the best things you can do for yourself – whether it’s for travel, work, or studies. Switzerland is a very safe, well-functioning country, and has an abundance of natural beauty and multiculturalism on offer.

If you’re looking to build up a career in Hospitality Management, and you’re thinking of heading to Lausanne, you’re on the right track.

EduConnect 2cents

Hospitality is an ever-evolving industry, and there are some crazy, exciting things coming our way. Check out this video that showcases the future of the industry.


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