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Italian Design and Swiss Hospitality Management Programs

on April 6, 2014 in College Visits

NABA 3The Laureate International Universities sponsored a very exciting and informative tour of their design universities in Milan, Italy, and hospitality management universities in Switzerland. Our tour included counselors from all over the world, with only a few from the US, providing an excellent chance to explore worldwide options for students. While many in the US have a bias against for-profit universities, I did not find this bias at all with the international counselors, as they value these dynamic and well-funded programs. What we saw was impressive and very student-focused.

NABA Milan, ItalyNABA

At the time of our tour, Laureate had purchased six art, architecture and design schools around the world. We began our tour in the hub of the design district in Milan at NABA Milan (Nuova Accademia di Belle Arti), where the “learn by doing” Bologna Process has been implemented. Departments are interdisciplinary, and courses include involvement in both cultural and industrial life. This is a very international program, with 80 percent of the faculty working for companies and sharing their knowledge. NABA is an active participant in the art and design world in Milan—hosting events during Design Week—and students often win design awards. Programs include Product Design, Textile Design, and Art Direction, to name a few.

Portfolio requirements are not program specific as there is no expectation that high-school students will have specialized. Italian design firms expect that the specialization will come later, and this is something NABA offers. Students may send in a collection of images or photos that are appealing and demonstrate how they see things in their own country. While some courses/programs are taught in Italian (language school nearby), others are offered in English. NABA offers semester abroad and summer programs that include video, film, animation, games, special effects, and photography, among others.naba2

Switzerland Hospitality Programs

GlionGlion: The first hospitality program we visited in Switzerland was the Glion campus near Montreux. Glion’s second campus is located in Buelle, near Gruyere. Glion students (1181 undergraduates) study event, entertainment, and sports management, as well as more traditional hotel management. Students are from 95 countries; only 7 percent are Americans.

Les Roches 2The energy was vibrant on campus. Students are expected to embrace the Swiss work ethic while learning critical independent responsibility and networking skills for future jobs. This 3.5-year program includes two internships, usually with international hotels. Mentors and a buddy system for new students are standard. Because the relationships with major hotels around the world are critical to Glion, feedback from internship employers is critical to a successful symbiotic relationship.

Every week industry speakers discuss history, vision, and worldwide opportunities. Airport pick-ups are provided to freshmen, but after that the school challenges students to travel on their own on weekends and for internships to explore new areas and languages around the world. Service and business is a big focus at Glion.

Les Roches 1Les Roches International School of Hotel Management: This stunning campus is located in the mountains near the large international ski resort of Crans-Montana. Les Roches is focused more on hospitality than Glion, with students from around the world participating in very hands-on practicums (“craft-based learning”) in all aspects of the hospitality industry. All students must participate in a two-week rotation in the following areas: kitchen, room service, serving, front desk, cleaning science, and beverage management. Les Roches students are unique because they know life at the bottom, as all students experience this in practicums. The best managers are the ones with team and soft skills.

Les Roches has implemented the US systems of student services, with strong learning disability support, a counseling center, and a fitness center.

Internships after a student’s first semester are key and are offered all over the world at organizations such as the Four Seasons, Louis Vuitton, and Prada. Students then return and present to newer students and may attend a third internship during their seven-semester undergraduate program. Students may switch between the Laureate hospitality programs in Spain, China, Jordan (food), Australia, and Switzerland.LEs Roches 4

The best applicants have the following attributes:

People skills and diplomacy

Internationalism and mobility

Good personal presentation


Savoir faire

Communication skills

Ability to work under pressure



Teamwork skills



Students are graded on appearance, behavior, and attendance, and classroom doors are locked if students are one-minute late. While enjoying an excellent meal in one of the many student-operated restaurants, I noticed many hotel managers from international organizations joining faculty and students for meals and presenting and recruiting on campus. The alumni network is large and is critical for internships.

Les Roches 3Many students speak four to five languages, but it is acceptable if a student does not because everyone speaks English. Students must take French or German, but Italian and Spanish are also offered. Students can carry the key skills learned in hospitality (teamwork, trust, courtesy, and time management) to many other industries. The male to female ratio is 1:1. Les Roches offers three starts—January, July, and October—and applications can be processed quickly assuming there are no visa issues.

Students applying to these programs should contact our Seattle representative, Ramona Wessel (, before applying as she can guide students through the process and answer questions about these exciting opportunities. Students and their families visiting campus are well supported, as are new students arriving on campus for the first time.

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