Grooming great graduates

  • D van Lill Central University of Technology, Free State, South Africa


Globalisation has moved the South African tourism, hospitality and sport industries into a complex business environment with the competitive edge being defined in terms of service and value for money. These industries increasingly judge graduate qualities by conceptual, operational and especially emotional expertise. Higher education, on the other hand, demands improved graduate yield and research outputs. This scenario necessitates that universities provide education and training in this field to redefine their traditional graduate profile. The study examined how access criteria, emotional intelligence and academic success define highly soughtafter graduates. A multivariate competency model, explaining 84 per cent of the total variability, was developed based on a sample of 119 first-year Hospitality Management students enrolled at the Central University of Technology. Academic achievement explained 58 per cent and emotional intelligence 16 per cent of the variance. Student performance was classified into four groups and predicted with 80 per cent accuracy. Finally, specific emotional intelligence competencies were closely associated with highly performing graduates. While only 36 per cent of students seem to be top performers, the model provides guidelines on proactively identifying underperformers and the key academic success and emotional intelligence areas to improve the overall performance of first-year Hospitality Management students.

South African Journal of Higher Education Vol. 19(5) 2005: 969-989

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eISSN: 1011-3487