THE-ICE Standards of Excellence

THE-ICE Standards of Excellence

Philosophy & Policy

THE-ICE gives recognition through accreditation to institutions offering TH&E (tourism, hospitality, events and culinary arts) education programmes of a standard regarded by their peers as espousing excellence in education.

The policy is such that all Applicant Institutions, whether universities, private hotel schools, vocational training colleges or others, must complete the application assessment process applicable for the relevant membership category.

Only once their TH&E programmes have been evaluated by an auditor from the independent THE-ICE assessment panel as having successfully meet THE-ICE Standards of Excellence will membership be offered.

THE-ICE Standards of Excellence

1. Status of Institution

Rationale: To ensure that the institution is recognised as a legally constituted and reputable educational provider in the country / jurisdiction(s) in which it is located

The institution must be a reputable vocational education (VET) or a higher education provider (HEI) duly registered/incorporated with the relevant authority and/or education board in its State, territory or country to provide accredited academic programmes in the Tourism, Hospitality, Events and/or Culinary Arts Management (TH&E) field at the approved level.

An Institution offering high education programmes should provide a reflective summary about how it adheres to the standards for one of the following categories (please refer to ADDENDUM – Definition below):

  • University
  • University of Applied Sciences
  • University College
  • School, College or Academy of Specialisation

2. Governance, Leadership and Administration

Rationale: To ensure that within an institution offering multiple disciplines, the TH&E courses operate within a clearly identifiable unit (e.g. School / Department or Teaching Unit of TH&E) and have a definable level of autonomy and control over the courses and curriculum offered, and a level of academic/expert leadership consistent with the scale and nature of the institution.

The institution is to identify the staff member/s, who have the major strategic responsibility for the TH&E programme, and to demonstrate how the leadership of the School/Department or Teaching Unit provides input into the programmes and curriculum offered. Ideally, institutional leadership also encourages and fosters engagement with relevant industry sectors and communities and other providers.

3. Vision, Mission and Objectives

Rationale: To provide THE-ICE with an understanding of the overall vision and mission of the institution and/or School/Department or Teaching Unit offering TH&E programmes by describing their respective commitments.

The institution is to provide/describe its:

  • Philosophy
  • Purposes and major goals
  • Knowledge bases/disciplines and conceptual frameworks
  • Organisational leadership and its place within the institution’s structure
  • Approach to networking and interacting with other TH&E providers

4. Courses/Programmes, Curriculum and Graduate Outcomes/Attributes

Rationale: All programmes leading to award qualifications in TH&E field should be identified. Those programmes should have sufficient TH&E course content within the curriculum structure with clearly defined learning objectives and graduate outcomes.

The institution is to:

  • List award programmes that are available to domestic and international students in the areas of TH&E (Vocational education & training, undergraduate, postgraduate coursework and/or research degrees etc) and indicate the TH&E percentage in each of those programmes.
  • Indicate the programme admission requirements at each academic level including the respective required English proficiency level.
  • Indicate the support mechanisms that are available to develop improved language proficiency when a need is identified.
  • Describe the curriculum structure, objectives and graduate outcomes/attributes of the listed TH&E programmes. Articulate and quantify (duration or number of hours) if industry placement/internship is a mandatory part of the award programme and their intended goals. Any graduate destination data should be described.
  • Provide   evidence   of   industry   input   informing   curriculum   design, graduate outcomes/attributes, assessment methods, the use of industry placements/internships and mentoring and evaluation of the programme, to ensure professional relevance in the TH&E programmes (this is not required for research degrees).
  • Confirm that qualifications awarded are recognised by a relevant national authority.

5. Approach to Teaching and Learning

Rationale: THE-ICE recognises that institutions may use a variety of modes to achieve course delivery, approaches to teaching and learning and the measurement of learning outcomes.

The Institution is to:

  • Describe the philosophy, approach and relevant policies to teaching and learning adopted by the Unit responsible for TH&E programmes. This should include information about the patterns of class contact for programmes at different qualification levels (such as vocational education, undergraduate or post graduate programmes), the number and nature of any web- supported or fully web-based (online) programmes
  • Indicate the number of any web-supported (blended) or fully web-based (online) programmes and describe the mechanism employed to support student participation across different modes of delivery (such as methods to support students who are off campus or in remote locations).
  • Provide details of each external; joint delivery or offshore programmes and demonstrate the comparable objectives, learning experiences and graduate outcomes to the onshore equivalent
  • Where applicable describe any areas of research within the School / Department or Teaching Unit offering T&H Education that are considered to contribute to teaching and learning outcomes.

6. Planning, Programme Review and Quality Assurance Mechanisms

Rationale: The institution must provide evidence of the quality assurance mechanisms in place within the institution and its TH&E programmes.

The institution has a planning and review cycle that allows periodic monitoring of the performance and quality of its programmes. Each of the TH&E programme must have a regular review process for quality assurance of curriculum, teaching and study materials.

Any agreed articulation or credit transfer from vocational to specific higher education qualifications should be described, as well as issues on recognition of prior learning (RPL) and assessment standards.

Mechanism used to quality assure delivery arrangement with other campuses or institutions if applicable.

Descriptions of mechanism employed to monitor the quality and effectiveness of industry placements/internships, such as feedback reports from internship coordinators and students.

Mechanism for external or internal referencing of the quality and standing of programmes (such as benchmarking, moderation, peer review, international staffing exchanges).

7. Level of Internationalisation

Rationale: The institution must demonstrate its commitment to educate international (and where appropriate, domestic) TH&E students, who upon graduation are excellently equipped to compete in international environments.

The Institution is to:

  • Briefly describe the policy towards internationalisation within the institution and within the element offering TH&E programmes. Describe how this policy is interpreted in TH&E Education and in the curriculum.
  • Demonstrate the extent to which an international perspective is incorporated in the curriculum (i.e., in programme outlines, pedagogy, texts, other curriculum material, lectures/tutorials, practical sessions, case studies, assessment, etc).
  • Describe any specific learning outcomes/graduate attributes for internationalisation and provide any evidence of achievement of these outcomes.
  • Describe student enrolment in the TH&E programme/s, including the number (and percentage) of international students in the School/Department or Teaching Unit.

8. Physical Resources and Facilities

Rationale: A high quality programme depends on provision of essential educational facilities.

Note: The institution must provide an adequate range of educational facilities to students. The facilities below should be provided at no additional charge to the basic programme fee.

Teaching Facilities

It is expected that the teaching areas must be adequate for the number of students and be fitted with essential instructional resources and media appropriate to the programmes being taught (e.g., data projector, video, web portal connection and online learning resources). There should also be some description of any generic or dedicated TH&E computing facilities or learning centres for students. The institution must make adequate provision for student access to Web-based and other electronic learning materials.

For practical courses there must be adequate relevant training facilities (e.g. kitchen, restaurant, travel agent desk, hotel reception desk). Where applicable equipment (e.g. kitchen) must conform to industry standards.

Learning Resources / Library

The institution must provide student access to physical and/or online learning materials needed for the courses being taught. All prescribed, background and further readings must be available in physical and/or electronic form. Describe (or link to exemplify) the scope of shelf holdings in the TH&E field, including any relevant database subscriptions, and/or any ‘virtual/digital library’ facilities that are used in the programmes. Where learning materials are provided through arrangements with a third party (e.g. another educational institution), the effectiveness of such arrangements must be demonstrable.

9. Student Support Services

Rationale: Student learning experience, and learning outcomes can be greatly influenced by the academic support services available to them. A high quality programme specifically for domestic and international students must be provided, supported by a range of activities such as:

  • Help with enrolment
  • Advice and support on accommodation
  • Effective orientation procedures
  • Advice and support regarding academic progress and academic difficulties
  • Advice on options for further study
  • Effective grievance handling procedures handled with cultural sensitivity
  • Special services for international students (e.g. assistance with student visa extension etc.)
  • Student satisfaction feedback

10. Industry Advisory Board

Rationale: One of the major aims of TH&E programmes is to produce graduates who can contribute to the TH&E industry. Engagement of the industry in curriculum development and programme delivery is highly desirable.

The institution is to provide the ‘Terms of Reference’ of its Industry Advisory Board. Such information should include details (name and bio-sketch) of the Chairperson and Members, terms of office and frequency of meetings.

11. Staffing Resources

Rationale: The quality of a programme will depend on the number of teaching staff, qualifications, experience and engagement in scholarly activities. To ensure excellence, the TH&E programmes should be delivered by an identifiable grouping of teaching staff. The staff grouping may constitute a department or equivalent organisational unit, or else form part of a larger grouping (e.g., a Business School or Faculty).

The number of staff teaching the programmes must be sufficient to cover the breadth of expertise required to maintain continuity in the event of staff turnover and to provide guidance to part- time/sessional staff.

Staff must be adequately qualified, experienced in the TH&E field and actively engaging in scholarly activities. There must be sufficient academic and other expertise to provide programme leadership for the management, development and monitoring of programmes. New staff and part-time/sessional staff should have access to orientation/induction support applicable to carrying out their role.

There must be a sufficient number of full-time equivalent (FTE) staff with relevant qualifications and experience in teaching TH&E courses at the major location on which the programme is taught. Describe:

  • The number of Full-Time and Part-Time staff delivering the programme(s), with their qualifications, relevant industry experience, and position title responsible for Higher Education programmes (Professor; A/ Professor; Senior Lecturer; Lecturer) and VET programmes (Teacher or Head Teacher etc).
  • Their respective academic / industry qualifications, such as:
    • o For higher education programmes: doctoral qualifications in a field of TH&E or postgraduate qualifications complemented with at least five years of TH&E industry and/or professional
    • o For VET programmes: university conferred qualifications and at least four years of TH&E industry experience, and/or professional
  • The research and consultancy activity in the Teaching Unit offering TH&E programmes supported with examples, where appropriate.

12. Financial Resources

Rationale: Institutions, Schools / Departments or Teaching Units must be sufficiently resourced to support the educational objectives of the various programmes they are offering.

Institution is to identify its funding source and to provide evidence that it has sufficient financial stability for provision of sustainable services to meet its obligations to the students enrolled in the TH&E programmes.

13. Memberships, Partnerships, Community/Social Responsibility Engagement

Rationale: Institutional memberships of professional associations or partnerships with major TH&E companies are indications of engagement with the wider TH&E community and with the networking opportunities, which that affords. Institutions must be able to identify that there are actively involved in this area.

Institution is to provide evidence of membership with academic association, professional association and/or significant partnerships with major TH&E operators such as airlines, hotel chains, travel agents, catering companies, tour operators nationally and internationally.

14. Areas of Excellence

Rationale: Institutions must be able to demonstrate excellence through external recognition of exceptional achievements in the range of academic research; in staff and student achievements; and in demonstrated industry leadership, across the spectrum of TH&E educational activities. Recognition by international bodies is particularly desirable.

The Institution is to provide evidence of excellence or exceptional achievements in the TH&E field. Recognition by international bodies is of particularly desirable. Such evidence may take the following forms (but is not limited to):


  • Continuing professional skills upgrading of staff
  • Significant professional and/or industry leadership
  • Collaboration with international and national TH&E enterprises and industry associations
  • National or international awards to the institution or its staff (e.g., export awards, tourism awards, teaching awards)
  • Scholarly activities being undertaken by staff and evidenced by the number of publications and research grants received


  • Accreditation by international bodies such as European Quality Improvement System (EQUIS), Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business (AACSB)
  • Staff invited as speakers at national or international conferences or industry forums
  • Hosting of national or international conferences
  • Editorship (by staff) of national or international professional journals or industry publications, where applicable
  • Research undertaken by staff and evidenced by the number of publications and research grants received

For more information please email:

ADDENDUM –Definition

Scholarly activities

Examples of scholarly activities will include but will not be limited to:

  • scholarship of discovery (traditional research)
  • scholarship of integration ( such as critical literature reviews)
  • scholarship of application (such as professional knowledge and practice, case studies, publications in professional journals, speaking at seminars, conferences etc)
  • scholarship of teaching (where there is rigorous and thoughtful investigation of student learning; engaging with existing knowledge on teaching and learning; self-reflection on teaching and learning in one’s own discipline, sharing those ideas with faculty or more broadly communicating those findings through presentations or publications; and building on what has been learnt through teaching excellence).


A “university” is an institution of higher education and research which grants academic degrees in a variety of subjects and provides both undergraduate and postgraduate education.

A “university” has a duty to undertake some research and publication. If a “university” is offering educational programmes at Masters-level or above, there is an expectation that staff, in addition to engaging in scholarly activities, will also undertake student supervision, research and publication.

University of Applied Sciences

“Universities of Applied Sciences”, UAS (FH-Fachhochschule or Hochschule) are well established in the German-speaking countries. Within this category of higher education providers some specialise in in a particular field (e.g. technology or business). The term is commonly applied to technical, technological, and/or vocational universities.

“Universities of Applied Sciences” are designed with a focus on teaching professional skills. UAS and Universities are “separate but equal”. It is a generic term internationally understood to describe institutions awarding academic degrees in higher education at Bachelor’s and Master’s levels, but not doctoral degrees themselves. However a UAS may co-run doctoral programmes, with doctoral degrees being awarded by the partner university.

University College

The term “university college” is used in a number of countries to denote college institutions that provide tertiary education but do not have full or independent university status. A university college is often part of a larger university. The precise usage varies from country to country.

  • In Australia: the term University College has been used to refer to educational institutions that are like universities, but lacked full autonomy.
  • In Canada: “university college” has three meanings: a degree-granting institution; an institution that offers university-level coursework; or a university college of a university. “university college” can refer to institutions that offer both college diplomas and undergraduate degrees. The term is extensively used by institutions that do not have full university status, but which do extensive teaching at degree level.
  • In the United Kingdom, any institution may describe itself as a “university college”, but the use of the term “university” in a title requires government approval. For this to be obtained, institutions must have degree-awarding powers, though some still choose to have their degrees awarded by other institutions. Generally, institutions with this title teach degree programmes, often of a specialist nature, and may also carry out research, but their key focus is teaching. However, there are also some long-established university colleges that are constituent parts of a relatively loose-knit association of other institutions within the same region (e.g. London and Oxford) but are yet fully independent and internationally renowned universities in their own right.
  • In the United States: the term “university college” is use for the division dedicated to continuing education and the needs of the non-traditional students

School, College or Academy

The term “school, college or academy” refers to Hotel Schools, specialist state entities (such as Technical and Further Education institutions or TAFE) or private institutions specialising in the TH&E fields. These providers may offer only vocational (Certificate, Diploma, Advanced Diploma and/or Associate Degree) programmes, only higher education programmes or both vocational programmes and higher education programmes (undergraduate and/or postgraduate).