Students at the University of Sunderland are being given a unique insight into the hospitality industry as part of a new bespoke mentorship scheme by some of the region’s top hoteliers.

The Hospitality Mentor programme – which has launched at the University in partnership with The North East Hotels Association (NEHA) – is designed to connect tourism, hospitality and events students with experienced hoteliers from some of the north-east’s most prestigious hotels, including the Crowne Plaza Newcastle and Seaham Hall.

The hoteliers, or mentors, will share their expertise and wisdom which they have gained throughout their careers, providing students with an insight into exciting industry opportunities as they transition from education into employment.

Serkan Uzunogullari, Programme Leader for BSc (Hons) International Tourism and Hospitality Management at the University of Sunderland, said: “The Hospitality Mentor programme is a testament to our University’s commitment to producing graduates who are equipped with the practical knowledge and experience needed to excel in their careers.

“By collaborating with the North East Hotels Association, we can provide our students with a unique opportunity to network with leaders in the hospitality industry, learn about different career paths, and gain practical skills that they can apply in their future roles.

“This partnership will undoubtedly play a significant role in helping our students stand out in the competitive job market.”

International Tourism and Hospitality Management student Mustafa Zahid Lukmanjee, who is also the University’s Student Voice Rep for Tourism, added: “The Hospitality Mentor programme is an amazing opportunity and I am proud to be a part of it.

“I’ve really enjoyed meeting general managers from different hotels in the north-east and gain knowledge on how the industry works. I can’t wait to continue the programme and learn more about the industry.”

The programme is also designed to support the hospitality industry’s post-COVID labour shortage.

Anna Wadcock is co-chair of the NEHA, the biggest organisation of its kind in England with 43 regional hotels on board.

She said: “We are delighted to have teamed up with the University of Sunderland in delivering the first Hospitality Mentor programme.

“The aim is that this will be the start of a long lasting partnership between the North East Hotels Association and the University in order to nurture future stars of hospitality.

“I am very grateful to all of the very experienced general managers who are giving up their time to share their experiences and knowledge with the students. My thanks also go to all of the University team, especially Serkan Uzunogullari, who have helped get us to this stage.

“I can’t wait to see how the next year develops and also to see how the programme helps the students to create a fantastic career path within our amazing industry.”