The Hospitality Institute of the Barbados Community College is struggling to meet overwhelming demand for its programmes.
And director Bernice Crichlow-Earle had disclosed that the institute is moving to introduce a programme leading to the award of a Bachelor of Arts Degree in Culinary Arts within the next year.
Disclosing the plan in an interview with Barbados TODAY, she said the institute which trains people for careers in the tourism and hospitality industry had to turn away hundreds of applicants over the last year and, in some cases, had taken in more students per course than usually allowed.
The Hastings, Christ Church facility offers associate degrees in culinary arts, tourism and travel, as well as hospitality studies. There is a one-year general catering programme for people who do not have the prerequisites for entry to the associate degree programmes. Tailored programmes for “vulnerable groups” are also offered.
“We are challenged. The ideal number, for instance, for culinary arts would be about 60 students. This year we took in 88. This year for culinary arts, we had in excess of 500 applicants,” said Crichlow-Earle, noting it was a similar situation for other courses.
“I must say, because of Barbadians’ value of education, most of those who apply are already qualified. What is also significant is that they come from all levels of schools within our society and extra regionally as well,” she added, pointing out that there have been students from as far away as Canada, Italy and Nigeria.
Stressing that it was important for students to have exposure to both theory and practice during their studies, the Hospitality Institute director said: “When our students leave, they not only have the experience of working at the PomMarine, but we give them internships at other prime (establishments) locally, in the region and extra-regionally.”
The institute has a 25-year-old relationship with Walt Disney World in Florida, USA.
Outside of the classroom, students have the opportunity to gain practical experience working in the 22-bedroom PomMarine which has two restaurants.
“Hotel PomMarine can be described as a super lab where students hone their skills and get the necessary education to take them through to the Associate Degree level and after that to the Bachelor’s [degree] level,” Crichlow-Earle said.