Local students lack language ability, international mindset: institute head


 
Sunday, March 2, 2008
Issue 270, Page 2
Word count: 676
Published in: Macau Daily Times

By Poyi (Natalie) Leung

International perspectives and language proficiency are the two foremost skills that local students have to improve in order to stay competitive in the job market, head of the tourism institute said yesterday.

Yesterday was the first day of the Institute for Tourism Studies’ (IFT) open day, “Student For A Day”, which will continue today and on March 8 and 9.

President of IFT, Dr Fanny Vong, told the Macau Daily Times that an international perspective was not only about “academic studies, textbooks, reference materials, but it’s about the real experience of life that students have to be enriched in”.

“It’s very important for them to have an international outlook and you can’t acquire this by just confining yourself in the classrooms,” Dr Vong said.

In order to achieve it, she said it was not necessary to “go out of Macau”, although “it was one of the best ways”.

“They still have many opportunities to serve the community such as participating in church activities, voluntary work, going outside of the classrooms when you’ve time instead of doing part-time jobs,” Dr Vong said, “just try to get involved and it will give them more experiences and exposure on how to become a member of society and how to develop themselves as a person.”

“Being open-minded to accepting people from different cultures, appreciate diversity that cultures bring to the community are as well all very important.”

The president also pointed out local students’ language ability was another important area that needed improving.

“Macau is becoming more international and cosmopolitan in a sense that you’ll see more people of different nationalities living and working here. It’s inevitable that students after graduation will need to work in a multi-cultural environment,” Dr Vong told the MDT.

“And in order to be a team member within this environment, it requires a very good language proficiency. English as an international language is certainly important,” she added.

Therefore, Dr Vong encouraged undergraduate students to make good use of leisure time as she said it was a “really precious thing”.

“After you graduate and go to work, you won’t have the luxury to get involved in things that interest you or can expand your scope or horizon,” she said.

The open day kicked off at 2.30pm yesterday and saw more than 100 students from different high schools participate in activities and campus tours organised by the first and second year IFT students.

Although the Macau University of Science and Technology (MUST) also opened a new tourism education course last year, Dr Vong said it was not the first year IFT had to face competition, citing that local students seeking overseas education was common in society nowadays.

“Education institutions always have to improve themselves, not because of competition, but of this very important mission to develop and nurture professionals and the persons as a whole.”

As a public institution, Dr Vong said it was also their responsibility to be concerned about issues that the community also found important.

“Our academic team, which includes many research-capable colleagues, will undertake research commissioned by the government or about topics that are of interest of the general public such as issues regarding tourism and gaming development,” the president said.

Expansion

Dr Vong said IFT was investigating alternatives to expand its facilities and campus space in order to increase the annual student intake which currently sits at 250.

Although the president did not rule out the possibility of building a new campus, she emphasised that there were other options being considered and they were still being discussed.

“We’re comparing price, timing and space issues to decide on the final alternative that we can take up to satisfy our needs before the next academic year starts in September,” she said.

IFT is a public institution of higher education established in 1995 which caters for students interested in the tourism, hotel management, and convention and exhibition industries.

In 2000, IFT became the first institute in the world to receive the World Tourism Organisation “UNWTO. TedQual Certification” that recognised the education and training IFT offered.

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