Zac Woolfitt



I was working in the USA for an international tour operator, and they opened their European Operations office in Amsterdam. I had always loved the city of Amsterdam, the beautiful canals mixed with the gritty urban centre (and all those bikes). I jumped at the chance to move to the Netherlands (that was 11 years ago) and I have not looked back since.

The main advantage of studying in the Netherlands is that you will gain a completely new international perspective. It is only a one hour flight to Amsterdam, but you are immediately in a whole new world. And compared to other European cities, you really can get round Amsterdam without having to learn a new language. Most people here speak good English, and much of the information for surviving in the city is easily available in English. Most people moving here don't have any trouble feeling at home very quickly. I have direct access to BBC on my TV at home, and there are lots of good pubs in town so that you never have to feel too far away from British culture.

Inholland Amsterdam/Diemen is located 20 minutes by metro (tube) ride from the centre of Amsterdam. Inholland has a very practically based education system, combining individual learning with working in international project groups. When I look back at my education in the UK, all I ever seemed to do was write essays and sit exams. Here at Inholland, you will be assessed in many different ways, which leads to a much more well-rounded graduate. You have a study coach who helps you with your personal development over the four years (setting goals, and reflecting on your progress). In addition, you will work in project groups with people of different cultural backgrounds. It is quite a challenge sometimes, but you learn a great deal about yourself (how you function, what you are good at, and how your own cultural perspectives are different from others). I wish I'd had a chance to follow a course like this. I think it would have suited my type of studying much better!

Inholland is one of the largest universities of applied sciences in the Netherlands, with campuses throughout the northern part of the country. Amsterdam/Diemen has a mixed group of students from multiple backgrounds. This means that you will be developing your international network from the very beginning. The Tourism Management programme in Amsterdam/Diemen has a really great mix of students and is a well balanced course which combines theory and practice. We've got a Facebook Group for the TRM course, and students are welcome to contact our current students to find out more about the course. In the third year, students head off all over the world (at the moment more than three quarters of our third year are abroad, from Oman to Buenos Aires, from Sydney to Slovenia!). Our graduates have an excellent mix of valuable skills and are able to go out into the world of tourism with a really strong foundation of relevant competences. Because we are close to Amsterdam, our campus attracts students from all over the world and our student population make the most of the cultural activities available in the city.

There are several differences I notice between the Dutch education system and the UK. Firstly, the Netherlands does not have such a hierarchical culture. That means that there is quite an informal relationship between students and lecturers. Students are treated with respect, as adults, and are trusted (expected) to manage their studies independently from the time they arrive. The assessments on the course mean that you will be tested in many different ways, and students who graduate from our course, have proved their ability to succeed in many different assessment situations. In the final two years of the course students have a lot of freedom to select which courses they follow, and to develop their graduation profile based on subjects that you choose to study.

I also think that there is a different perspective to studying tourism in the Netherlands, rather than in the UK. My impression is that in the UK, students on work placement in the tourism industry, do not always get treated with that much responsibility. However, in the Netherlands, there is a very different culture. Work placements are taken very seriously by all industries, and students in higher education are given insight into management roles, and often have quite a lot of responsibility during their six month work placement. And Inholland has very strict requirements about the level of job that students do during work placement, particularly in the tourism industry. I think that this additional experience can give you a real advantage over your fellow graduates at a later stage.

I was born in North London and did my bachelor in English Studies at Sheffield City Polytechnic (now Sheffield Hallam). When I graduated, I started working in tourism as a tour leader for American groups coming to Europe. I loved it, and within a couple of years, I had been transferred to work in the US for the company. I gained a lot of responsibility and moved up the corporate ladder. After ten years in North America (California, Massachusetts and Ontario) I moved to the Netherlands to work at the Amsterdam office. And then I got the chance to teach what I had learned. I have now been working at Inholland at the tourism course since 2003.

"Moving to study in another country is a big challenge and requires a lot of guts, but you will learn much more about yourself and your abilities than by staying at home reading books!"