Switzerland's reputation as a centre for education extends beyond its business schools and universities to a number of schools which offer a prestigious education in hotel management.
The Swiss School of Hotel and Tourism Management (HTF), based just outside of Chur in an old spa hotel, is among the Swiss elite. Its more than 500 students represent more than 40 nationalities.
With some 15 internationally recognised hotel management schools in Switzerland the HTF's John Carr told swissinfo why the country has become a magnet for hotel training.
"Hotel managers know that if they get a student from a Swiss hotel school certain things will have been put inside that body," explained Carr. "Things about time keeping, self discipline, attitudes we are strong on in hotel schools in Switzerland - that's not just us but the whole philosophy of the education here."
The HTF was founded in Chur in 1966, moving up to its mountain premises overlooking Chur in 1987.
English, German offered
It is the only hotel school in the country to offer a programme in both English and German, with just under half of the students on the English programme.
Partnered with University of Delaware in the United States the school offers a wide range of subjects from practical kitchen skills to hotel law.
"We start from the cooking and restaurant side of the business in the first and second semesters concentrating on the practical side of the business," said Carr. "In the third and fourth semesters we concentrate on the management side of the business."
After the end of four semesters students, can continue on to the BBA programme and subsequently, the school's masters degree programme.
Home students subsidised
The school runs as a non-profit educational organisation, although there are shareholders in the school's property.
Charges for this sort of an education are high, costing SFr17,500 ($10,500) per semester (including board and lodging) for foreign students, while home students are subsidised by the cantonal authorities and pay SFr1,500 (excluding board and lodging).
"It doesn't matter which hotel school you go to it costs a lot of money and the prices we charge are not that different," added Carr. "Switzerland is an expensive country and we can't afford to give the education for free."
With its unique combination of practical and management experience, along with a one-year work placement, students at the HTF are to be found in a variety of top hotel jobs around the world.
Reputation has clout
Ali Sadrzaden, a third year student at the HTF, told swissinfo that the Swiss hotel school education carried a certain amount of clout when applying for jobs.
"Switzerland wins on reputation and name," said Sadrzaden. "If I go and apply for a job it's definitely a bonus that I studied in Switzerland."
Iranian-born Sadrzaden is among the many foreign students at the HTF. And according to John Carr continuous marketing of the school overseas is how it keeps those high-paying foreign students coming in.
"We have a marketing department, as do all the hotel schools, and right now our English division marketing man is in Beijing in China doing international hotel school fair business," explained Carr.
by Tom O'Brien