Education is critical in transforming the way how we live and how we look at the world around us

October 5, 2020

In order to bring RIT's programs and courses, delivered at RIT Croatia, closer to our students and potential students, we decided to talk to Dr. Besim Agušaj, who has been teaching numerous courses from the Hospitality and Tourism Management (HTM) BS program faculty from Dubrovnik campus for close to 20 years.

Dr. Agušaj believes that students’ brains are way too valuable to sit idle, so you will never see a traiditonal 'ex-cathedra' lecture in his class. He likes to bring in guests, prominent industry experts, to class thus exploring concepts and ideas with students in an interactive setting.

High quality education creates career opportunities and improves one's life!

„Education today is essential and there are many reasons why this is the case," says Dr. Agušaj. „First, being educated creates career opportunities and vastly improves one’s life. It is probably the most critical tool to transform the way how we live and how we look at the world around us. The complex environment is such that the quality of building our knowledge is vital. That is why picking the right educational institution is highly important. In my classes, the model of a "one-way communication” where an instructor talks, and students passively sit and listen does not exist (and it should not exist in any classroom). Students are more engaged and as a consequence they acquire more knowledge and ultimately develop their personality and attitude".

This academic year is a bit different. Social distancing, among other measures taken against COVID-19 pandemic has impacted all of our lives. At RIT Croatia, it means different class delivery modes (in-class and online) which can affect the feeling of connectedness with the rest of the class, as well as interactivity. That is why Dr. Agušaj always remains available to his students. "Yes, and I really mean - always. I respond to their emails, messages and phone calls instantly – with no delays. They appreciate that but this also creates an atmosphere where individual responsibility is absolutely critical. So far, this worked – and I am sure that it will work in future too. Young people will show maturity and rise up to the occasion whenever they are asked to do so”.

To boost interactivity and create interest, Dr. Agušaj and his peers from RIT’s campus in Rochester, NY, USA, delivered a joint class in the Spring semester of the last academic year. A total of 63 students and faculty were connected to jointly take part in a guest lecture delivered by Mr. Scott Loretan, Vice President for Global Initiative Deployment for Sodexo. Sodexo is a French food services and facilities management company headquartered in Paris and it is one of the world's largest multinational corporations in food business (400,000+ employees operating in 80 countries). "Even though we were scattered around the world in that session, we were very much connected with the technology that we employed – and we learned a lot. In that sense – we haven't lost any of the class dynamics. And, what is even more important - we do these kinds of things all the time,” says Dr. Agušaj.

Franchising in the Service Sector course

One of the HTM courses for sophomore students, taught by Dr. Agušaj is Franchising in the Service Sector. Students learn more about this successful method for business expansion, and gain an understanding of the rationales underpinning the franchise system and specific motivations of both franchisors and franchisees. Textbook readings, academic papers and case studies are used throughout the course. But that is not all. „In my Franchising course, among other things, we embark on developing a business project that lasts for 5 weeks.” Says Dr. Agušaj. "In a step by step approach students are required to construct their own business that they can grow and expand. Even though they have a detailed plan on what needs to be done, the level of responsibility and the final project output is heavily dependent on their creative ideas, energy and time spent in the project. As they progress through this journey – many Franchising and business-related topics are being discussed and studied. Once the project/course is over – the fact that they were active contributors in this process ensures that the topics covered will stay with them for a very very long time, and they will always be in a position to apply them – regardless of the businesses they end up working in”.

Message to students: be open minded and never stop learning and exploring!

As you can see, classes at RIT Croatia are all dynamic, engaging, interesting, contemporary and require a lot of critical thinking and creativity, and even COVID-19 pandemic did not change that. „COVID? Yes, it temporarily disrupted our lives, but this shall pass too – I have no doubt whatsoever", Dr. Agušaj says and adds: "On the other hand, this crisis showed us that there is nothing that we can’t overcome. Our students' level of flexibility, and capacity to operate in tough times was phenomenal – kudos to all of them. The lesson learned is that in order to be successful - every businessperson must be prepared to act like this throughout their lives. So, we will be challenged, but I also know that we will experience great moments intertwined with fun and joy along the way. See you in classroom :) ."

To learn more about Hospitality and Tourism Program, please click HERE

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