RCBS - A World-class Educational Experience

Why look out of the country to study, when there are cheaper and equally attractive options back home?

By Wong Casandra

“Emaar doesn’t just make buildings, they create lifetimes,” says Raja Chowdhury, a Hospitality Management lecturer who teaches at both diploma and advanced diploma levels.

He is of course referring to Emaar Properties, one of Dubai’s biggest global real estate companies. The conglomerate’s education wing acquired Raffles Campus, a local education provider, in 2006 along with the Raffles Campus Business School (RCBS), one of its components.

The school is one of Emaar Education’s many institutes in Asia, offering alternative routes for those seeking a tertiary education. Raffles Campus occupies a vast facility near Clementi which is equipped with sports amenities, various laboratories and other necessary infrastructure to complement the courses offered. READ MORE

Bernice Thian Yee Lynn, a final-year student at RCBS, is a fine example of one who has benefited from this venture.

A shorter yet fulfilling alternative
Having studied Information Communications before at the Institute of Technical Education (ITE), Bernice considered several options before choosing to study at RCBS. She was offered a Higher National ITE Certificate (NITEC) to further her studies in Higher NITEC, but turned it down. “I was already there for two years, and a Higher NITEC would have taken another two, followed by three years to complete a diploma in a polytechnic,” she explained.

At RCBS, she takes only two years to attain a Diploma of Hospitality Management offered by Box Hill Institute, one of Australia’s renowned Technical and Further Education (TAFE) providers.

However, the length of the course does not compromise the quality of the education in any way. “We do hands-on practical tasks that actually prepare us for the working world,” Bernice, 20, added.

As such, the diploma comes in the form of tailored and specialised programmes conducted by a diverse pool of lecturers – equipped with excellent first-hand knowledge through working experience – from all over the world. Raja is one such lecturer, with experience working in prestigious and world-renowned hotels like the Hyatt and Meritus Mandarin.

Having worked in the hospitality industry for 10 years, Raja understands that preparing a student academically is not enough; one has to also be equipped with the knowledge of employability awareness and exposure.

As such, the 32-year-old is passionate about crafting an ideal studying environment “which makes an impression on [students] and creates some impact on their lives”, and is satisfied that RCBS provides the perfect, flexible platform for this.

“I was a pioneer working at Emaar in terms of making an educational programme and developing everything from scratch,” he stated, highlighting the importance of imbuing a course with a practitioner’s creativity and expertise.

Using the knowledge gained during his work experience, he has created some very innovative and helpful programmes for his students. One of them is an interactive workshop called “Make your Chances better for Interviews”, where students use different personality development tools to identify their strengths and weaknesses.
Raja explained, “In this workshop they are trained to handle group discussions, and personal interviews. What we do is we film students role-playing as both employers and interview candidates, and then we will play the recording and together, review and look out for possible areas of improvement.”

The students are also required to think-out-of-the-box. For example, by completing research projects on commercial breweries and coffee companies where they learn about the processes involved in production.

A cosmopolitan education
At RCBS, both students and lecturers learn – not only from their interaction in an academic context, but also from their fellow peers of different ethnicities and cultural backgrounds.

Surrounded by a cosmopolitan group of friends hailing from countries like India, Malaysia, China and Indonesia, Bernice sees no problems in socialising with them despite the disparity in culture. Her friends are friendly and understanding, and often take the time to explain to her the “dos and don’ts” of their cultures.

Raja, who is likewise thrown into a similar situation, agrees. As he aptly explained, “We have a big advantage because we have a multi-cultural environment here, not only in terms of teachers but also in terms of students. Having to work with people from several countries, the students are not only learning hospitality but also the essence of culture.”

The fact that there aren’t too many Singaporeans at her school seems to benefit Bernice, someone who enjoys interacting with people and looks forward to it in the working world. RCBS is definitely an appropriate place to start practicing these communication skills.

“Because many are international students and we’re all speaking to people who come from different backgrounds, we actually have to put in extra effort to understand one another. Personally, I think that helps me to understand my future customers better, a big step towards becoming a better sales person.”

An evolving and tightly-knit family
With such a diverse and varied pool of students, RCBS has come up with simple but effective measures to ensure that no one is left out. These ensure that students and teachers are constantly learning from one another, whether culturally or otherwise. The students run a community body that liaises closely with the school’s management team. Together, they hold weekly meetings where they iron out pressing matters and discuss upcoming activities to achieve cohesion amongst the school population. Raja explains that these activities can range from chalets to outings, stressing on the complete and growing synergy between both parties.

Bernice remembers one particular session fondly, “Around the middle of this year, our school organised a chalet at Downtown East. We actually bonded well, getting to know people better through simple things like staying with them and eating with them.”

To Raja, a prospective student needs three core values: knowledge, skills and attitude. Bernice, on the other hand, pragmatically focuses on reaping the benefits from studying at RCBS.

“A diploma from RCBS’ partner institutions is just as recognised as a local diploma. Moreover, it is a faster route that provides a solid training ground to practice on, preparing us well for the real working world before actually entering it.”

After all, not only is Bernice enjoying the fast-track to achieving a diploma, she has also picked up a foreign phrase or two from close friends in RCBS. “Ami tomake bhalobashi” (Bengali for “I feel love, affection or deep fondness for you”) – a phrase befitting RCBS, a school that is almost like an extended family.

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