A new academic year has just started at IFTM. It however differs in many ways from previous ones. We are all navigating our way through uncertain times. COVID-19 has changed substantially the way we live, and is affecting the way teaching and study is conducted at higher education institutions.
We at IFTM have adopted a positive outlook in tackling the challenges of a world with COVID-19. Early in the pandemic, during the second semester of the past academic year, our team was swift in taking action, with most teaching and study moved online. That allowed students to continue their educational journey, while ensuring everyone’s safety.
The Institute did not just host online lectures. We introduced innovative and fresh approaches for rethinking how teaching and study is conducted. Many IFTM courses involve hands-on projects. Faculty members adapted by devising online events and activities that could still provide students with valuable knowledge and skills. In many cases, and much to everyone’s satisfaction, students developed skills beyond what was originally envisaged when these events and activities were set up. This contributed to making IFTM students ready for the challenge of uncertain days.
For the first time, the annual Tourism Education Student Summit – known as TEd Summit – was an online-only event, delivered via videoconferencing. The online TEd Summit reached new audiences, highlighting the quality of research performed by our students beyond Macao.
The Institute is gradually resuming face-to-face teaching in the new academic year, complemented with online support. IFTM is committed to doing so while protecting the community and preventing the spread of COVID-19. Our team has put in place a comprehensive safety plan that provides clear directions on how staff and students should fulfil their obligations in order to minimise risk of transmission of COVID-19 on campus.
Despite travel restrictions relating to COVID-19 temporarily affecting student and scholar exchange programmes, internationalisation remains one of the cornerstones of IFTM. Today, this is perhaps more important than ever. The challenges we face cannot be solved by any one person, or one institution alone. The introduction, in the past academic year, of our first batch of postgraduate programmes – at diploma, master’s and PhD levels – will only further IFTM’s international standing.
IFTM remains also heavily involved in supporting the development of the Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macao Greater Bay Area. The plan calls for positioning Macao as a base for tourism education and training. IFTM is coordinating efforts in this regard with partners in and outside the Greater Bay Area.
Turning challenges into opportunities
The unprecedented circumstances posed by the pandemic have coincided with the celebrations of IFTM’s 25th anniversary. That has inspired us to, rather than just looking back at our past achievements as a way to commemorate this milestone, invest in laying the groundwork for the next 25 years. There are many new projects under way.
IFTM has added a building to its Taipa Campus and been granted a parcel of land to develop on that campus. The Institute is making progress with a number of digital initiatives as part of the “Smart Campus” push. Additionally, Dr. Connie Loi Kim Ieng was recently appointed Vice President. She is the first IFTM graduate to reach such a high-profile position at the Institute, and will focus on academic affairs, curriculum enhancement and research output.
Work continues on fully implementing the revised IFTM Charter, enacted last year. The newly established IFTM Council will play a key role in helping us to plan for the future.
These are challenging times, but the IFTM community can turn the situation into shared opportunity. The Institute will continue to show creative resilience to deal with disruption caused by the pandemic, while always putting safety first, and preparing for 25 more years of growth.