Career development opportunities for higher education

Mike Haslin, chief executive officer at The University Caterers Organisation (TUCO) considers the exceptional development paths available in higher education

The higher education market is an innovative and diverse environment. One which delivers not just student food but also best-in-class fine dining to corporations and VIPs. Modern higher education hospitality is worlds away from its former institutional reputation and now provides market-leading food and drink offers.

Our members frequently ask what development opportunities are available to aspiring hospitality directors in higher education. As an organisation which thrives on supporting individuals to further their careers and business opportunities, we wanted to offer a course for senior managers to broaden their growth and development. Therefore, in 2018 we launched our master’s degree in Hospitality Leadership in Universities and the Public Sector. The unique course is a collaboration between our award-winning TUCO Academy and London South Bank University (LSBU) School of Law and Social Sciences.

Modules and projects

Product and market trends and drivers

Develops the skills and knowledge to analyse market and product development opportunities. Prepares documentation that can help convince others of a prospects viability.

Strategy and visioning

Provides in-depth exploration and analysis of the diverse theoretical perspectives on strategic management and contextualises these in relation to hospitality within universities and the public sector.

Hospitality leadership

Focuses on the active, professional aspects of leadership studies within the hospitality industry in public organisations. Examines the complex and ever-changing environment of universities and public sector hospitality, by applying contemporary theoretical perspectives to achieve sustainable and transformational leadership.

Marketing and merchandising

Focuses on understanding consumers, communicating with them and developing loyal relationships with them. Also covers marketing strategy and planning in both theory and practice within public services. Explores how public organisations can utilise hospitality and address key marketing challenges posed by an increasingly competitive environment.

Sustainable design and operation

Seeks to examine the principles that enable hospitality operations to deliver sustainability within constraints which that business operates. This includes, delivering the customer experience while contributing to the wider wellbeing agendas of their organisations including work-life balance, sustainable wage levels and reflecting social/business trends.

Comparative study

A residential field study-based module that enables students to make comparative assessments between working practices in their own establishment with those that exhibit good practice either within the UK public services or wider afield. It can discern between different operations and procedures to help them improve the offerings within their own organisation.

Hospitality consultancy project

The opportunity to undertake a piece of primary research and analysis based on the learning received throughout their programme and to enable them to manage their own learning under the guidance of a tutor. Students may choose their own topic within their field of interest or expertise which will demonstrate originality and offer
a worthwhile contribution to both the existing body of knowledge and to their employer organisation.

The TUCO master’s degree is a two-year course and offers bespoke learning. The course aims to provide an academic-based and intellectually demanding programme of study within the hospitality discipline. It consists of modules and projects covering the key areas of strategy, marketing, leadership and product innovation, as well as a consultancy project.

It’s a real opportunity to provide critical thinking and knowledge acquisition for managers who wish to further their careers in the hospitality industry. It provides a unique insight into current industry practices. Many hospitality programmes focus primarily on the private sector, but this course focuses on higher education and the public sector. As hospitality becomes increasingly more important to these sectors, the opportunities for management and directorship are increasing.

Student feedback

Ivan Higney, catering manager, Darwin College, the University of Cambridge

“I signed up to do this MA because it is a great opportunity to further my knowledge of hospitality in higher education. For me, a huge advantage is that the course is delivered in blocks rather than semester-based. Therefore, it enables me to continue with my full-time job and study at the same time. As a catering manager, not only has the course helped me to learn more about hospitality in higher education and the public sector but it has given me the tools to deliver new and innovative ideas for my institution.

“During our field trip to studierendenWERK BERLIN (the service provider for the students of the Berlin universities) and the University of Manchester, I was able to make comparisons between operations within those institutions and my own to support the comparative study module. The operations and offering at the University of Manchester were extraordinary. There are 51 outlets, including a pop-up where local businesses came to the campus and provided new and interesting food concepts.”

We were extremely proud to have fully sponsored 10 TUCO members in the first cohort and we are delighted to once again offer a bursary to TUCO members for the 2020 intake too. Bursaries of up to the full amount are available to TUCO full members.

A ‘taster’ day will take place at LSBU on Friday 11 October 2019 for prospective students. Attendees will receive a tour of the campus, meet some of the lecturers who deliver the modules for the course, be given advice on the application process for the course and the bursary. For more information on the taster day and the bursary please contact

To find out more about TUCO, please visit: or contact Mike Haslin by calling: 0161 713 3421 or emailing:

Why TUCO’s master’s degree in hospitality leadership?

The course is delivered in blocks rather than a semester-based delivery. This innovative delivery will provide the opportunity for those people in full-time employment to study.

The award-winning TUCO Academy and LSBU staff bring their support and expertise to students’ learning. LSBU were ranked number one in London for research quality in ‘Hospitality, Leisure, Recreation and Tourism’.

A portion of the programme delivery will be provided remotely through a series of live lectures and tutorials which MA students will take part in using the virtual learning environment Moodle. Some face-to-face delivery will still need to take place at LSBU, including the induction at the beginning of January but this unique opportunity for remote delivery has been created so that members can support their institutions operation while taking advantage of this learning opportunity.

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