Showcase Higher Education Research and Development Society of Australasia 2015

Destination China: Students’ and managers’ expectations of attributes needed by Chinese graduates of Australian tourism and hospitality degrees (#121)

Katrine Sonnenschein 1 , Michelle Barker 1 , Raymond Hibbins 1
  1. Griffith University, Brisbane, QLD, Australia

Abstract Content (up to 300 words recommended)

China is the main source of international students in Australia, and graduate employment outcomes are an important factor for Chinese students and their families when considering study abroad options. Recently, some researchers have begun to question a lack of congruency between what Australian educational institutions offer in terms of graduate attributes and the needs of the Chinese industry. In order for Australia to remain a destination of choice for Chinese students, empirical research into the expectations of Chinese international students and managers in China is needed. The hotel industry is the focus for two reasons: there are a significant number of Chinese international students enrolled in tourism and hospitality degrees in Australia, and there is an increasing need for graduates in the contemporary Chinese hotel industry.


The paper aims to examine the congruencies of the expectations of two stakeholder groups concerning knowledge, skills, attitudes, and values needed in the Chinese hotel industry. The two stakeholder groups are: Chinese international students enrolled in an Australian tourism and hospitality degree, and managers in the Chinese hotel industry. 


The theoretical perspective of this explorative research is interpretivism. Preliminary findings of semi-structured interviews with 19 Chinese international students enrolled in an Australian tourism and hospitality degree (15 undergraduate and 4 postgraduate students) and 12 managers in the Chinese hotel industry are presented.  The first stage of the data analysis uses NVivo10. Both open and axial coding is used.


The insights drawn from this study will contribute to the development of an in-depth understanding of the implications of the similarities and differences of stakeholders’ expectations. It is envisaged that the research will contribute to policy and curriculum development as well as recommendations for university-industry collaboration between Australia and China.

Addressing the theme/s of the Conference (up to 200 words recommended)

Educating graduates to be responsive and adaptable professionals is an important theme of the proposed paper. Currently, the gap between what universities offer and the needs of the industry is under debate by researchers, employers, managers, and CEOs. Further collaboration is needed between governments, the private sector and universities to change the situation and maximize the employability of the graduates.


Furthermore, universities must think about what attributes are important for the future careers of international students, and how universities can help develop and critique these attributes. The perceptions managers have of graduates’ skills differ from country to country. There is the risk that international students may have a conception of employability that differs from the notions that shape the curriculum of the degree program in their host university.


In order to help international students adapt to the dynamic job market and profession in their home country, it is important to investigate the expectations of international students and managers in relation to attributes needed by the graduates. This study contributes to debates about the curriculum/industry interface by providing an understanding of how attributes acquired by Chinese international tourism and hospitality students are perceived and evaluated in the Chinese hotel industry.