Alatalo, Malla, MA, Specialist, Project Manager, Northern Well-being and Services, Lapland University of Applied Sciences

Van den Bosch, Britlise, MSc International Development

Laitinen-Tolonen, Aulikki, M.Soc.Sc., Senior Lecturer, Northern Well-being and Services, Lapland University of Applied Sciences

Contributions by:

prof. Mitja Gorenak, Ph.D., University of Maribor

Assist. Prof. Gregor Jagodič, Ph.D., University of Maribor

Assist. prof. Tomi Špindler, Ph.D., University of Maribor

Daniela Pereira, Master of Tourism, Estoril Higher Institute for Tourism and Hotel Studies

Catarina Andrade, Master of Hotel Management, ESHTE, Estoril Higher Institute for Tourism and Hotel Studies

Rodrigo Paulino, Master of Tourism and Communication, Estoril Higher Institute for Tourism and Hotel Studies 

Carla Patrício, Around Portugal DMC

Pegah Sedgh, Ph.D. candidate, University of Stavanger

Idun Sand, MSc

Truls Engström, Associate professor, Ph.D., University of Stavanger

Type: Monograph
Publisher: Lapin ammattikorkeakoulu Oy / Lapland University of Applied Sciences Ltd
Year of publication: 2024
Serie: Pohjoisen tekijät / The Northern Factors – Publications of Lapland University of Applied Sciences 5/2024
ISBN: 978-952-316-516-8
ISSN: 2954-1654 (on-line publication)
PDF file:
Rights: CC BY 4.0
Language: English

Funded by the European Union. Views and opinions expressed are however those of the authors only and do not necessarily reflect those of the European Union or the European Education and Culture Executive Agency (EACEA). Neither the European Union nor EACEA can be held responsible for them.


This publication “Best Practices for Transferring Knowledge to Working Life” is a study on good practices for applying and implementing tourism students’ research findings into working life. The work provides the higher education community and the tourism industry with ideas for cooperation.

This publication is an output of From Research to Working Life project. Lapland University of Applied Sciences has been leading the process as the main author. The partner organizations have contributed by presenting four best practice case examples each, on how student’s knowledge and research results have been transferred to working life of tourism.

From Research to Working Life: students as knowledge brokers for entrepreneurial development (ReWo) is an Erasmus+ funded project which aims at creating permanent methods and practices for developing education and research structures, within educational institutions and in collaboration with international working life. The Partners in this project are the University of Maribor, Lapland University of Applied Sciences, the University of Stavanger, and the Estoril Higher Institute for Tourism and Hotel Studies.

Table of contents


1. Preface

2. Cooperation between business and higher education – who benefits?

3. Case examples: Best practices for transferring research to working life
3.1. Slovenia
3.2 Finland
3.3 Portugal
3.4 Norway

4. Complementary views on the topic: survey by questionnaires
4.1 Demographics of the Survey
4.2 Preferred channels for sharing information: observations from the survey
4.3 Current state and future needs for cooperation: Infographics based on survey outcomes

5. Reflections
5.1 Advancing co-creation of curricula
5.2. Practical needs and novelty as a basis for development and cooperation
5.3. Multi-channel ways to share information are needed



DMC                       Destination Management Company

ESTHE                   Estoril Higher Institute for Tourism and Hotel Studies

HACCP                  Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Points

HE                          Higher Education

HEI                         Higher Education Institution

ReWo                     From Research to Working Life

RDI                         Research, Development and Innovation

ROI                         Return of Investment

UAS                        University of Applied Sciences

UBC                       University-Business.Cooperation

1. Preface

All tourism students in higher education institutions produce various kinds of development ideas and conduct research that could help tourism companies to get information about the latest study in the field and to help them to improve their business. During their studies students immerse themselves in cutting-edge tourism research, latest trends and future prospects. When entering working life new graduates can bring much-needed new insight to organizations. However, it is noteworthy that cooperation with working life can – and should – already take place during the studies.

From Research to Working Life: students as knowledge brokers for entrepreneurial development (ReWo) is an Erasmus+ funded project which aims at creating permanent methods and practices for developing education and research structures, within educational institutions and in collaboration with international working life.

The project focuses on developing the joint education and research structures of the participating educational institutions. Better collaboration between HE and the industry is the primary goal – not just in the tourism industry, but to develop approaches that can be applicable to other fields. Better collaboration between all the participants included in this process (HE, the students, and the tourism sector) will be beneficial to all: it will bring useful changes in the HE curricula, more suited for the needs of the industry, it will improve the students’ employability and empower them to use their knowledge and ideas for the improvement of their workplace, and inform the industry representatives about the benefits of implementing new knowledge and ideas into practice.

The Partners in this project are the University of Maribor, Lapland University of Applied Sciences, the University of Stavanger, and the Estoril Higher Institute for Tourism and Hotel Studies.

One of the outputs of ReWo project is this study on good practices for applying and implementing tourism students’ research findings into working life. In addition, the aim is to discover development ideas around topics such as: how can students’ research results or other development input be used more effectively and how can this be considered within tourism studies.

This report presents the results of the study. The study consists primarily of case examples that have been collected from the ReWo project’s partner institutions, four cases from each. In addition, a questionnaire was developed and shared in order to gain an understanding of the current cooperation and methods of knowledge transfer between HEIs, students, and the industry as well as wants for cooperation in the future and needs for curricula improvement.

The results were compiled into this report Best Practices for Transferring Knowledge to Working life which holds in introduction to the topic and the project, results and insights from the questionnaires, and case examples with “main takeaways” meaning the practical learning the reader of the report could take in. In the end of the report there are reflections, recommendations and development ideas.

Anyone reading this report can benefit from the best practice case examples and development ideas. For the tourism industry the report can give new ideas for even tighter collaboration with higher education institutions of tourism. For students, as well as for the teaching staff, researchers and RDI personnel, the report hopefully offers inspiration to try new practices. In addition, this publication may encourage HEIs to critically examine their curriculum: how it currently supports students’ linkage to the working life and how this link could be further promoted through the curriculum itself.

This report is neither a comprehensive collection of all the possible ways for research-industry collaboration nor a guide on how to do it. Instead, the core of this report is to share best practices from the ReWo project’s partner institutions, for HEI–working life cooperation where students are involved.

With this compact collection of inspiring case examples and reflections, the report aims to serve as a springboard for further discussion around the topic. Ideally, it will also encourage readers to share more good examples of how students’ expertise has been of use in the working life of tourism.

2. Cooperation between business and higher education – who benefits?

Gaining new knowledge and finding qualified employees from among graduates, especially the latter, is an important reason for businesses to cooperate with HEIs (Davey, Meerman, Galán-Muros, Orazbayeva & Baaken 2018, 20). The tourism enterprises can benefit from research and HEI cooperation, for example, in fostering innovation, understanding the market, learning about sustainable business practices, creating networks and strategic partnerships, and gaining data-driven insights to support decision making.

According to Simon Hudson academic research centers can be of great benefit to tourist destinations. He sees that effectively implemented knowledge transfer between research and tourism practitioners is essential to gain competitive advantage. (Hudson 2013, 131). Also, Chris Cooper states in his article, Managing Tourism Knowledge, that he sees knowledge transfer and exchange as a competitive tool for the tourism sector (Cooper 2015, 107). However, the challenge in the tourism field is the reluctancy to use the latest research results. Lisa Ruhanen and Chris Cooper in their article, “Applying a Knowledge Management Framework to Tourism Research”, consider that the tourism sector could be seen as research averse (Ruhanen & Cooper 2004, 84) To tackle this problem, it would be important to identify the underlying causes at the local level and come up with targeted solutions.

For students, in turn, there are several good reasons to consider establishing connections to working life through their studies. Then how could students benefit from transferring their research results and findings to industry practices? First, the practical application of the research results validates the research itself and the student’s professional competence and research skills of the student. Cooperation with the industry during the studies enhances networking opportunities and future career possibilities. Moreover, through industry utilization of the research, students get valuable feedback from the field which enables better understanding of the practical implications and limitations of their work.

There are many reasons why cooperation between HEIs and businesses can be rewarding and motivating for all the parties involved. Not only for students and for businesses as mentioned above, but also for the HEIs. In particular, Universities of Applied Sciences in Finland are close to working life and the theoretical elements of education are linked to practical needs. This pragmatic approach is based on the idea that knowledge and theory only become meaningful when they are applied in practice. The relevance of degrees to the working life is considered important in UAS. The integration of working life and education is therefore one of the pedagogical solutions to promote a knowledge-based approach to degrees. (Mäki 2019, 83-84).

Universities of Applied Sciences in Finland also have a statutory social mission to promote regional impact. This in turn requires active interaction between the working life and higher education, with a role for both RDI and teaching staff as well as students. (Kangastie 2014, 20–21). Moreover, from the perspective of regional development higher education institutions (HEIs) are sources of talent and entrepreneurship potential. Also, for the existing businesses the future-oriented innovations and talent development produced in HEIs can create competitive advantage for the region. (Davey et al. 2018, 5).

Deeper cooperation between HEIs and the industry is a common state of will also on European level, states the report The State of University-Business Cooperation (UBC) in Europe.In terms of education the study underlines that UBC can be useful in aligning curricula and the competence of graduates to meet the needs of the industry. In addition, it can smoothen the career pathways of the graduates entering working life (Davey et al. 2018, 14). This is currently extremely important when after COVID-19 pandemic the tourism industry is lacking skilled workforce. In addition, the the attractiveness of tourism education has declined in recent years (Passoja 2022). Maybe well-established and productive working life cooperation could be seen as an attraction and image builder for tourism education.

According to Davey et al. (2018) there are many identified forms of University-Business Cooperation: education, research, valorization and management. The most developed cooperation activities are education and research. Cooperation in education includes activities such as curriculum co-design and co-delivery (e.g., guest lectures), education programmes that are partly academic and partly practical, students’ internships etc. (Davey et al. 2018, 40). Whilst all kinds of UBC cooperation is valuable, in this report there is only focus on the UBC in education.

3. Case examples: Best practices for transferring research to working life

In this chapter, cases from ReWo project partner study institutions from Slovenia, Finland, Portugal, and Norway are presented. These cases are good examples of beneficial cooperation between students, HEIs, and working life. The cases are practical hands-on examples and there is something to learn from each case. Thus, a few “main takeaways” are summarized, derived from each case.

3.1. Slovenia

3.1.1 Marketing based on generational characteristics

Contributor: Mitja Gorenak

Direct marketing based on generational characteristics is a strategy that involves tailoring marketing messages and tactics to appeal to different generations of consumers. Each generation has unique values, preferences, and behaviors, so understanding these characteristics can help marketers effectively engage with their target audience. In his master’s thesis, a student from University of Maribor analyzed customers’ behaviours, analyzing their purchasing decisions for travel packages in tourist agencies. 

In the first step, a student took a 2019 Europe tours travel brochure of a selected travel agency, where he coded all the programs offered by the travel agency by specific characteristics. In the second step, the student obtained one year’s worth of data from the travel agency indicating what kind of program was purchased alongside the information on gender and date of birth from the customer travelling. Analyzing this extensive database, the student could draw conclusions and generalizations about characteristics of different generations and their customer behaviour as a traveler. The travel agency has started using this knowledge in the 2021 season.

Main takeaways:

  • Choose a research topic where the student can apply their newly gained knowledge in existing challenges in tourism business such as tackling direct marketing to different generations!
  • Let students analyze existing material, in order to receive feedback.

3.1.2 Study project to enliven Manor Račji dvor

Contributor: Gregor Jagodič

A group of students from the University of Maribor received a project-research assignment, to write a proposal for the renovation and content arrangement of the cultural monument from the 18th century – Manor Račji dvor. The aim of the project was to connect stakeholders from the broader social environment. Especially, local institutions that offer and implement cultural events and tourist activities. Thus, a proposal was made for revitalizing Manor Račji dvor as a tourist destination. Including suggestions for activities, events, content, possible sources of funds and recommendations for promotional activities of the destination. 

Students, a pedagogical mentor and a work mentor from the company participated in the project proposal. The project resulted in a written document about the implementation of the project, the document was achieved by means of primary research. This document describes the current situation at the destination, it further draws a comparison between similar destinations. Additionally, a potential logo, promotional flyer and video presentation were created. These outcomes were presented publicly, of which feedback was used to further improve the final proposal. Once the construction and other issues are resolved at the Manor, the students are invited to implement the project proposal in order to revive the destination.

The results of the project showcase the importance of cooperation between the faculty and the economy. It is moreover important, because projects as such offer students the possibility to gain practical knowledge and potential employment opportunities. All the while companies gain theoretical knowledge, which in turn can help solve issues encountered in the business world.

Main takeaways:

  • Make sure to distinguish the objectives of each party included
  • Commission research projects for students in which they compose a proposal that can contribute to the revival of a destination.
  • Give students the opportunity to interact and work together with the industry, in order for knowledge to be exchanged.
  • Ask for creative output from the students.
  • Encourage feedback sessions such as a presentation in which discussion between students and professionals can be facilitated.

3.1.3 One car less in the family/company

Contributor: Gregor Jagodič

Since Slovenian society is increasingly dependent on the use of cars and it is difficult to imagine life without one or more cars, the faculty, together with students and companies, embarked on a project to promote sustainable forms of mobility. The project title was One car less in the family/company, and the project goal was to try to raise awareness among individuals and companies to change the car for more sustainable forms of mobility. Focused primarily on a classic or electric bicycle. Based on the research conducted, suggestions were made on how to promote more sustainable forms of mobility. Further, there was looked into what the advantages are for society, how costs can be reduced costs for individuals and companies, and how contributions to health can be made.

Due to the relevance of the topic, problem description and goals were quickly formulated, and presented by the owner of the company to the students. Following this, the students tackled the content of the project. The current situation was analyzed and compared to other countries. Further, primary research was conducted on the individual-defined target groups. From this content a proposal was created on encouraging the usage of bicycles and e-bikes, through promotional activities and announcements on social media and other platforms. Moreover, a video presentation was created to support the promotional activities as well as a public presentation on the outcomes of the project.

Upon completion of the project the company started implementing the proposed activities together with the students. For example, videos on the results of the project were published and the results were further promoted at fairs and shopping centers. In order to convince individuals to use bicycles and e-bikes. The cooperation between the students and the company illustrates that students are able to offer valuable solutions to a company’s problem, whilst it being a learning opportunity for them. Increasing the company´s sales, but also raising awareness on relevant sustainability issues.

Main takeaways:

  • Identify and tackle topical societal issues through student – working life cooperation.
  • Create research activities of company issues for students, fostering a longer-term cooperation between the two.
  • Get students involved in social media, allowing them to create relevant social media material.

3.1.4 Tourism of wildlife observation in the Notranjska region in Slovenia

Contributor: Tomi Špindler

The Notransjka region in Slovenia engages in wildlife tourism, namely bear watching experiences. It was researched by a student, for their thesis, which methods of interpretation are used in these experiences, and which of these methods is the most effective. Methods of interpretation support the educational takeaways from experiences as such. The aim of this research was to find out which interpretation method is most effective in teaching visitors of the bear watching experiences respect towards nature and general knowledge. The research was achieved by means of interviews with intermediaries and providers, and through participant observation.

The research resulted in knowledge on which interpretation method is mostly used in the Notranjska region and how frequently these methods are employed. As well as what forms of interpretation are most effective. This knowledge can now be used by both intermediaries and providers, to add more educational value to the bear watching experiences. This thesis research was even awarded as best student work in the field of wildlife and hunting by the Expert-Scientific Council of the Hunting Association Slovenia.

Main takeaways:

  • Use research done by students, such as theses, to change or enhance experiences and products offered. To make these more sustainable or successful.

3.2 Finland

3.2.1 Sustainability Self-assessment tool for tourism enterprises

RDI activities in universities can serve as a platform for demand-based real-life collaboration with tourism working field. This was a case when a student from Lapland University of Applied Sciences made a desktop study about sustainability communication as part of his internship. The student completed his internship in a project called Growth and Value through Sustainability Communication – VALUE. The student had existing expertise on the subject as he had already written his bachelors’ thesis about sustainability communication. In VALUE project, he was an equal team member with the project staff and the collaborating companies. This way, he gained complete understanding of the project objectives and could align his study accordingly.

The research made by the student was used as a backbone for a Self-assessment tool for digital sustainability communication. The tool was one of the outputs of VALUE project and it was developed in collaboration with Lapland UAS and tourism companies from Finnish Lapland.

The tool enables tourism companies to view, evaluate, measure and further develop sustainability communication related to its operations. The tool is free and open for companies to use. It is available in Finnish and in English.

Based on the choices the students make when choosing their research topics and internships they can gain considerable expertise already when studying. In this case the student’s strong pre-existing expertise brought advantage to the development of the tool. Indirectly, the student’s research can benefit several tourism companies who use the self-assessment tool.

Main takeaways:

  • Support the development of students’ special expertise by offering them chances to deepen their knowledge in the subjects that they have enthusiasm for.
  • Involve students in RDI activities and provide them with possibilities to cooperate with industry representatives directly.

3.2.2 Responsible food tourism development

Lapland University of Applied Sciences offers a study unit called Responsible food tourism. In spring semester 2023 the study unit in question was implemented alongside with a regional development project Responsible development of food tourism through service design along Via Karelia.

During the lessons the students studied different elements of responsibility after which they selected one company from the project target area and observed sustainable practices of these companies related to food tourism. Students analyzed how responsibility appeared in the company website and social media and worked on development ideas based on their observations. Finally, they contacted the observed companies and gave them development ideas for better sustainability communication.

The study unit was beneficial for the companies who received the students’ analysis and development ideas about their sustainability practices. For students, in turn, a study unit designed like this offered a motivating chance to analyze real life examples. For these students who belong to Gen Z the issues of sustainability are important which was one of the reasons the work around the topic was meaningful for them. They also got tools and knowledge to observe sustainability. Moreover, having made contact to the companies and handing their work to the field may have been the first entrance to the field as future tourism professionals. The companies were delighted to receive the students’ reports and some of them even wanted to publish the student’s work on the company website. The students’ work also gave value to the development project as one of its targets was to enhance the companies’ know-how on responsibility issues.

This kind of transfer of students’ knowledge is possible in most higher education institutions as besides education most of them implement various kinds of development projects, both local, regional, and international, where there’s also connection to the tourism working field through participating or collaborating companies.

Main takeaways:

  • Communicate and cooperate with research and development staff, link the study units to development projects’ themes in order to gain mutual benefit.
  • Encourage students to contact the tourism companies and share their results directly with whom it may concern.

3.2.2 Improving the intercultural competence

There were two theses written in Lapland University of Applied Sciences that aimed to improve the intercultural competence of their commissioners. In the first thesis the student familiarized herself with the existing products of a tourism company and adapted them to serve Arabic customers to avoid any uneasy situations, misunderstandings or intercultural conflicts. The tourism company who acted as the commissioner for the thesis was very pleased with the study that provided them with vital information and even potential competitive advantage. The other thesis was about intercultural communication and how to better serve customers from France by proposing a cross-cultural training for the staff.

In both cases the author of commission-based theses came to Finland from another culture yet had lived in the country long enough to feel at home. However, due to their background they both had the much-appreciated capability to see Finnish society, services and working culture through an international customer’s or worker’s point-of-view. (Häikiö et al. 2021.)

Main takeaways:

  • Ask for thesis commissions from the tourism companies – this way the research is demand-based, and the results will be more likely applied to working life.
  • Industry-commissioned theses offer a valuable chance for students to build professional network in tourism field.
  • See students’ personality and background as an asset!

3.2.4 Pop up -theses event

Lapland University of Applied Sciences regularly hosts a Pop-up theses virtual event which is arranged in Zoom complemented with a poster exhibition in virtual wall Padlet. It’s an event that presents all the newest bachelor theses of tourism education. Pop up theses event aims to act as a forum for the students, staff and the industry to hear and discuss the research and development work the tourism students have done. Lapland UAS organizes the event three times a year – always after a thesis process is over in the faculty. Students present their thesis in the event both orally and as a poster. After the event, all the posters are shared on a virtual Padlet wall.

According to the organizers, not many tourism industry representatives participate in the event as it is currently marketed mainly to students and educational staff. Occasionally thesis commissioners from the industry join.

The students have been pleased to present their theses at the event. Especially the live implementation of the event has received positive feedback as it has been more freeform and enabled more discussion.

Main takeaways:

  • Consider arranging a regularly recurring event that both promotes students’ research and development work and also benefits the industry by providing new information from the field.
  • Using both online events in Zoom and a virtual poster exhibition enables industry to see visualizations of the research results even if missing the event itself.
  • Think of other possible platforms for students, HEI staff and industry representatives to meet and find common ground for cooperation and knowledge-exchange.

3.3 Portugal

3.3.1 Cultural tourism in destination planning

Contributor: Daniela Pereira

A master’s student of tourism from Esthe, studied the role of cultural tourism itineraries in destination planning and management in the area of Lisbon. She designed four thematic itineraries out of the most obvious tourist-beaten tracks. Her work was then delivered to the four district mayors, who are responsible for the area where the walking tours take place so that they implement her work.

The student used the interview method: She interviewed four district mayors to understand which resources and attractions existed in each parish and five tourist guides who had already created their own thematic itineraries in Lisbon, aiming at knowing the techniques they use to structure an itinerary.

Four new creative thematic itineraries were accurately planned and designed in less touristy parishes in Lisbon. These itineraries also cover less explored subjects (fashion, gastronomy, industry, street art, etc.) that can be interpreted with different and uncommon stories, promoting the identity and culture of the tourism destination.

Main takeaways:

  • Let students engage with a destination, in order for them to deepen their knowledge whilst developing an area.
  • Ensure students’ work gets shared with officials or companies, in order to facilitate knowledge exchange.
  • By allowing students to take charge of industry research, they can facilitate knowledge sharing and communication between different stakeholders.

3.3.2 Calculating the economic return for the investment

Contributor: Catarina Andrade

In Esthe, a hotel management master’s student, with her master’s project, was able to calculate the economic return for the hotel on an investment. This investment was a training course on Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Points (HACCP), in which all kitchen employees of the hotel participated. While training is often regarded as an expense, because the economic benefits are difficult to grasp, training as such is actually an investment.

The student applied the Return Of Investment (ROI) Model, which goes from Level 1 – Trainees’ Reaction to Level 5 – ROI Calculation. For this, she relied on questionnaires (ex-ante and ex-post) and analyzed the results of the HACCP audits. The training costs were considered using data from the organization. The benefits of the training program were calculated based on the reduction in the probability of fines applied by the Food Safety Authority in case of non-compliance. 

It was the first time the methodology was applied in the hotel, opening the door for application in other situations. By calculating the economic returns of investment in training, hotel managers may be more prone to invest in the competence development of their employees, thus improving the efficiency and effectiveness of these firms. 

Main takeaways:

  • Stimulate theoretical methodology to be used in the work field.
  • Let students calculate ROI, as a learning exercise for them, while gaining knowledge on if certain investments are worthwhile.

3.3.3 Improving the image of a Coach Museum

Contributor: Rodrigo Paulino

A master’s student of tourism from Esthe, did an internship at the National Coach Museum aiming at improving the “post-museum” philosophy in that institution. The report should help the Coach Museum’s curator and other museum curators to change their point of view about the museums’ demand interests.

The main purpose of the report was to assess whether that institution met the “post-museum” criteria. The methodology used was based upon the direct observation of the location, by way of guided tours, and through active participation in the museum’s day-to-day activities, namely its educational services.  

The student, together with the museum’s management department, developed a guide on best practices with a view to helping the institution to better insert itself in the post-museum context and become an increasingly modern and more open cultural and social centre. 

Main takeaways:

  • Share reports students make for your company or organization so the whole industry can gain knowledge on specific topics. And also use reports that students have made for other companies to improve your own.
  • Work together with students to develop products, such as a guide on best practices.

3.3.4 Alumni cooperating with the former study institution

Contributor: Carla Patrício

A former student of the Tourism Information Course from ESTHE, stated the excellent quality of how Tourism is taught in ESHTE. So, when she opened her own Destination Management Company (DMC), she not only applied what she studied but she always gave an opportunity to the students of ESHTE to do their internship in her DMC. She realized she could learn many innovative techniques from recent students.

Over the decade she received one internship student at the end of each academic year. Consequently, each student brought new perspectives, and new techniques, presented during their internship. At the same time, the students understood the perspectives, absorbed the experience, and learned the techniques of working from an expert DMC and the results have always been very successful. For the students who proved to have developed their skills, she gave them a steady job in the DMC and now they are working as part of the trade in the tourism field.

The former students of ESHTE have the capacity of showing what they have learned and brought different approaches, new perspectives, and up-to-date skills, mainly related to technology and social media management systems. That allowed us to find out new targets and to deal with new generations of customers, bringing a benefit for the DMC and the tourism sector. 

Main takeaways:

  • Bear in mind that the current students can be HEIs future collaborators in the field!
  • Offer students internship opportunities to learn from their knowledge and gain new perspectives while offering them practical skills.
  • Students are most familiar with new technology and social media.

3.4 Norway

3.4.1 Mentor program: Bridging the gap between students with tourism and hospitality leaders

Contributor: Pegah Sedgh

Mentorship is a powerful tool in the world of education, and in the hospitality and tourism sectors, it’s no exception. Over the past ten years, master’s students in their first year and bachelor’s students in their second year can apply for the programme, which starts every autumn in Norwegian School of hotel Management. The program is designed as a structured platform where students apply with a well-crafted motivation letter and CV, expressing their interest in personal and career development. The selection process involves both internal and external professionals, ensuring a diverse and enriching experience for the students. Those who are admitted are assigned their own mentor who, for a whole year, gives them advice and guidance on career related topics that students decide themselves. Students regularly have one-to-one meetings with a dedicated mentor from the industry who are mainly leaders in the hospitality and tourism businesses. In addition to these meetings with their mentor, participants have four mandatory gatherings to attend with other adepts. These gatherings are designed with a primary goal: transitioning students from theoretical knowledge to a practical understanding of hospitality and service sector leadership.

Mechanism of the Mentorship program:

  • One-on-One meetings
  • Shadowing sessions
  • Participation in corporate meetings
  • Handling real-world assignments

While students gain invaluable insights, mentors also find the program rewarding. They recognize the essence of mutual learning, realizing that fresh perspectives from students can sometimes challenge and enhance their own understanding. Moreover, mentors are usually from esteemed positions, leading hotels, theme parks, and renowned restaurants, as well as experts in service sector consultancy. This creates a nice gathering of different ideas, experiences, and ambitions.

Main takeaways:

  • Personalized learning – students as the main responsible for setting meetings’ agendas, students get a tailor-made experience, ensuring their needs and curiosities are met.
  • Unparalleled networking – interacting with top leaders provides students an early entry into the professional world, creating the foundation for their future careers, as well as building their network among other classmates who enrol the program.
  • Mutual growth – both mentors and mentees benefit from the shared experiences, ensuring continuous learning and evolution for both.

3.4.2 Serviceforum: Student driven Conference, Linking students’, higher education institutes and business world

Contributor: Pegah Sedgh

For 26 years, students from Norwegian School of Hotel Management have taken the lead in organizing Serviceforum, one of the most significant events by a student organization from the university, as a space where students, teachers, and industry leaders from the service sector, could meet, exchange ideas, and work together. Students function as “knowledge brokers” between industry and academia. This daytime conference is designed to invite and inspire the business community to what students learn and can do. Each year, the event focuses on a new and unique theme, attracting students, alumni, faculty, and industry professionals alike.

A standout feature is the presence of business leaders from various service businesses, mainly from tourism and hospitality. Their involvement gives students a chance to hear directly from top professionals and learn about the real-world challenges and opportunities in the service sector.

Students do not just sit and listen. They join discussions, team up with invited business leaders and professors in workshops, and even lead some sessions. This setup makes sure students get the most out of the event, gaining insights in addition to what they find in textbooks.

Moreover, the students behind the scenes get practical experience in what they learn in their event planning courses. They experience everything from marketing and promoting the event, gaining sponsorship from businesses, setting budgets, picking themes, planning workshops, and getting the word out. This gives them a peek into the world of event management challenges, the possibility of building their professional network and gaining self-confidence in their capabilities.

Overall, Serviceforum is a bright example of what can happen when students, higher education, and the business world come together with the huge potential of collaborations between them.

Main takeaways:

  • Student empowerment– organizing such events from designing the theme to all operational tasks, allows students to experience real-world challenges, preparing them for their future careers which can lead them to successful events and practical learning experiences.
  • Connecting academia and business – events like Serviceforum foster meaningful interactions between students and the regional, national, and international business community. Through direct interactions and collaborations, students lay the foundation for professional relationships that can benefit them long after graduation.

3.4.3 Turning Academic Insights into Sustainable Entrepreneurship

Contributor: Idun Sand

This case highlights a journey of one of the students that began in the classrooms of the University of Stavanger and led to the establishment of a startup related to tourism and sustainability. The primary motivation was a desire to make a meaningful impact within the booming tourism industry, recognized for its complex global scale and potential consequences on societies, infrastructures, and natural resources. Her academic education to topics like “Ethics in Tourism” and “Responsible Tourism” highlighted pressing issues such as consumerism, overcrowding, and environmental sustainability in her mind. After a while, during a brainstorming session, the overlooked souvenir industry emerged as a potential avenue for further work. What she found out was that despite the general shift towards environmental awareness, souvenir shops seemed an exception, as evidenced by the rapid growth of such shops.

In further discussion with course lecturers and other interested teammates, they developed a hypothesis. They believed that tourists, although sustainable in their daily lives, often neglect these habits when traveling. Surveys validated their hypothesis, revealing a noticeable drop in sustainability efforts during vacations.

Instead of simply marketing sustainability, the team realized the importance of reshaping their approach. They wanted to ensure that tourists not only recognize their environmental impact but also make responsible choices. Drawing inspiration from the concepts of responsible tourism and behavioral insights, they initiated a digital campaign. Through Instagram, they shared knowledge, aiming to encourage and guide travelers towards sustainable choices. Additionally, by offering eco-friendly alternatives in the souvenir space, they are working on rewarding tourists for making the right decisions.

Main takeaways:

  • Academic foundations matter –theoretical knowledge from universities can be effectively applied to address real-world challenges.
  • Spotting overlooked problems in lectures – in large sectors like tourism, even minor issues, such as waste from brochures, can offer innovative business opportunities.
  • From classroom to entrepreneurship –the student’s journey from lectures to launching a sustainable startup exemplifies the transformative potential of HEIs in shaping the next generation of innovators and business leaders.

3.4.4 Adventure Tourism and Entrepreneurship course: Learning business from Professionals

Contributor: Truls Engström

One of the offered courses to students, called Adventure Tourism and Entrepreneurship, is designed to go beyond just a regular class. It’s led by business professionals with a history in the tourism industry. Teachers don’t just teach from books – they share their real business stories and lessons, which equip students with a basis of knowledge, skills, and general competence within the field of adventure tourism and entrepreneurship. The course asks students to come up with their own business idea and plan it out using 24 clear steps of entrepreneurship. This isn’t just a school project; it is more like setting up a real business. And while doing this, as a big part of the course, students meet actual business owners. For instance, they get to visit places like Kongeparken, Magma Geopark, and Air by Bolder, which all are examples of successful tourism and entertainment industry. They don’t just see how these businesses run but get to chat with the people in charge. This gives them an inside look into how successful businesses really work.

Main takeaways:

  • Hands-on expertise – the course showcases the advantage of learning directly from seasoned business professionals, allowing students to gain insights that textbooks alone can’t provide.
  • Real-world exposure –through on-site visits and direct interactions with successful business owners, students gain an overview into the operational and strategic aspects of running a business, enhancing their understanding and readiness for entrepreneurship.
  • From theory to application – by developing a business idea and guiding them through 24 concrete steps of entrepreneurship, academic learning can be seen as directly aligned with the practicalities of launching and managing a startup.

4. Complementary views on the topic: survey by questionnaires

A survey by questionnaires was implemented to supplement the case studies and to map the best practices for transferring knowledge to the workplace. The goal was to learn about the current collaboration and future aspirations between HEIs and the tourism industry in the four project partner organizations. The questionnaires were distributed to four separate target group categories through partner institutions’ networks: 1) tourism students, 2) alumni, 3) tourism research and development workers and teachers in higher education institutions, and 4) tourist professionals.

The first part of the text includes a table illustrating the distribution of survey answers among different target groups. The next section discusses the survey observations and briefly presents highlights of survey responses from each target group. The final section provides four infographics summarizing the survey’s main findings from the teachers and the tourism industry.

4.1 Demographics of the Survey  

The survey yielded insights meant to foster collaboration and dissemination of research findings between HEIs and the tourism field. The response distribution to the survey questionnaires is presented in the demographics of the study table on this page. The demographics of the study table information reflect and correlate the different numbers of students in each HEI project partner institution. The demographics of the survey questionnaire respondents are shown in the following table 1.

Target groupAlumniStudentsTourism fieldEducators and R&D
number of respondents (n)811405765
Gender females72%68%78%62%
Gender males27%31%20%37%
Gender n/a1%1%2%1%
Nationality of respondent5 Slovenian
65 Portuguese
7 Finnish
1 Chinese
1 Angolan
2 n/a  
7 Slovenian
103 Portuguese
8 Finnish
7 Norwegian
3 Ukrainian
3 Indian
2 Croatian
1 Somali
1 Brazilian
1 Polish
1 Nepalis 1 Russian
2 n/a  
14 Slovenian
31 Portuguese
6 Finnish
1 Croatian
1 Australian
1 British
1 Greek
2 n/a  
9 Slovenian
44 Portuguese
5 Finnish
2 Norwegian
2 Swedish
1 Croatian
2 n/a  

Table 1. Demographics of the questionnaire respondents.

In the survey a considerable proportion of respondents’ gender group is female.  In every target group, the most responders across all nationalities were Portuguese. The second largest nationality group is Slovenians, and the third one is Finnish.

Here is background information on each target group from the survey questionnaires. The first one is from the students where 83 % of them are studying for a bachelor’s degree in tourism and 41 % of them are third-year students. The second group is the alumni. On the alumni respondents, 80 % finished their studies over 10 years ago and 47 % of them have had mentors from the tourism field during their studies. From the tourism research and development workers and teachers in higher education institutions group are involved in cooperation with local tourism companies and with other tourism education institutions, but surprisingly 49 % of tourism research and development workers and teachers in higher education institutions are not involved in any cooperation with tourism companies or other institutions. Of the target group of tourism field professionals, the largest respondents were guides and representatives of the accommodation in the tourism sector.

4.2 Preferred channels for sharing information: observations from the survey

One of the key questions in ReWo project is what kind of channels and methods could be used for sharing the students’ research results to working life. To find the answers to this question from different segments the survey had separate questionnaires for 1) tourism students, 2) alumni, 3) tourism research and development workers and teachers in higher education institutions, and 4) tourist professionals.

The questionnaires included several options, and one was able to select more than one option from the presented listing. At this point, the highest 3 to 4 responses are selected for each target group. The first target group is the tourism students.

The tourism students who responded to the survey questions answered that the best channels to share knowledge or research findings in the tourism field would be internships, workshops, seminars, and online platforms (e.g. Research Gate,  The second group is the alumni. According to alumni the best channels to share students’ knowledge or research findings would be workshops, conferences, internships, and seminars. Tourism research and development workers and teachers in higher education institutions share their students’ project results or findings at conferences, seminars, or workshops. Tourist professionals’ most preferred options for learning from students’ work are workshops, seminars, and online platforms. All the above had workshops and seminars among their best choices.

4.3 Current state and future needs for cooperation: Infographics based on survey outcomes

In the illustrations below (figures 1–4) there are summarized ideas about the current state of cooperation and hopes for new forms of cooperation. In the questionnaire, the industry and educational employees and the tourism industry were asked about the current state of translating research into working life practices. These outcomes showcase what is already done and what needs to be done to reach the gap between the industry and the students, in line with the aim of the. project. The survey questionnaire replies reflect current practices or weak signals for developments and initiatives that will influence tourism practices in the future. 

Figure 1. Teacher respondents of the survey questionnaire shared examples of different forms of current study integration.

Figure 2. Teacher respondents of the survey questionnaire shared their ideas on what is currently missing from the tourism study curricula.

Figure 3. Tourism industry respondents shared forms of their current cooperation with HEIs.

Figure 4. Tourism industry respondents shared their hopes and needs for HEI cooperation.

There is currently cooperation in place between research and working life. However, all survey participants state that there is a need for more cooperation. Most of the tourism industry indicates that they want cooperation with the HEIs, and about half of the tourism industry survey respondents have had cooperation before. Similar survey responses were from the HEIs and the alumni. Both stated they have cooperated with the tourism industry before and in the future, they would like to have more cooperation.

5. Reflections

5.1 Advancing co-creation of curricula

Current curricula in the partner organizations of the project already support the student-industry connection. In Lapland University of Applied Sciences, for example, most theses are commissioned by industry and all the theses are published online. In addition, Lapland UAS states that learning in the institution is collaborative and that the students, teachers and the industry together construct shared knowledge (Lapland UAS, 2023). Moreover, the University of Maribor focuses on breaching the gap between industry and the students by means of field tutorials, where students review good practices in the tourism field and tourism-related activities. Additionally, there are student projects implemented in cooperation with organizations (University of Maribor, 2021). Just like the University of Stavanger that offers industry mentorships as is mentioned in the case examples in this report.

However, there’s always room for development. Often it is up to the individual teachers’ activity if certain study units have connection to the working life or not. Just as often it is up to the student’s own effort to search for meaningful internship possibilities or thesis commissions that serve their career interests or produce added value to the company. Even though the curricula already support the student – working life connection somewhat well Davey et al (2018) suggest that curricula co-development should be further advanced: when the industry is involved in designing the curricula, they can ensure that the competence of the graduates – their potential future workers – meet their needs (p. 121).

Improving curricula is also one of the issues ReWo project is aiming to have impact on. The needs for development were elaborated by the teachers and RDI staff through the questionnaire. Examples of curricula development ideas were for example knowledge on sustainability, consumer behavior, customer survey, and ethics, to name a few.

Based on the findings of this study it seems obvious that there is 1) will for more cooperation between the parties, 2) identified cooperation needs and areas in the industry and 3) gaps in current curricula. Thus, co-designing the curricula together with HEIs and industry representatives would be beneficial. Adding students’ insight would complete the whole.

5.2. Practical needs and novelty as a basis for development and cooperation

Information is most likely applied when it is demand-based. Thus, understanding the needs of the industry is vital. The questionnaire showed that the tourism professionals are interested in cooperation with HEIs and they believe the cooperation could bring them new knowledge on, for example, the new trends and future in tourism field. It was also mentioned that projects together with HEIs would be interesting and that they would want to propose topics for theses. In addition, the tourism professionals also give value to their own role in mentoring and supervising students. 

For example, when discussing sustainability and how it can be brought to a tourism company’s day-to-day life, the entrepreneur and the hotel manager of the Boutique Hotel Lietsu in Joensuu explained that hiring students and graduates is part of their strategy of putting sustainability to practice. This is because the manager is aware that sustainability issues are important, even self-evident, for younger generations and because they have the latest information on the topic. Also, in Lietsu several sustainability development projects have been conducted jointly with students in forms of thesis and project works to co-create the latest knowledge. Providing real business life projects with quality supervision to students is itself a way to implement corporate social sustainability. (Puhakka-Tarvainen 2023.) In a similar vein, the cases presented in this report emphasize the practical benefits of cooperation, for example the case from Portugal where the alumni from Estoril Higher Institute for Tourism and Hotel Studies saw the value of interns in bringing their new knowledge to her DMC.

In January 2023 Lapland University of Applied Sciences hosted a seminar themed Impact and use of results in development work. The panel discussion with participants from both development and financing organizations as well as from enterprises raised some interesting views on the topic. There was a consensus among the specialists in the discussion that putting new information or research results into action requires a practical need. Moreover, CEO Juho Uutela from tourism company Beyond Arctic stated that for an enterprise research and development activities are investments for the future, as long as the research effort has novelty value (Uutela 2023). Marja Kivekäs, CEO in social and health care enterprise Saarenvire, argued that engaging enterprises to development activities might be challenging due to their limited resources (Kivekäs 2023). Cooperation with HEIs and students can be motivational in both of these cases as it is very resource efficient. In addition, HEis work with and continuously produce new and up-to-date knowledge. Thus, novelty value is inscribed.

5.3. Multi-channel ways to share information are needed

The industry, on the other hand, may lack information on cooperation possibilities with HEIs and their students. In addition, not sharing enough of the success stories or achievements in this kind of cooperation forces institutions to reinvent the wheel repeatedly. The recommendations of the UBC report also suggested that the benefits of cooperation should be promoted through various different media (Davey et al. 2018, 6).

As the case examples presented in this report show, innovative and fruitful cooperation already exists in many forms. What is needed is more forums, channels, arenas, to make the best cases available for everyone to learn. The key seems to be making good practices visible and finding more possibilities for the industry representatives, students and the HEI staff to meet, exchange ideas, and to find common ground for cooperation that benefits all parties.

Davey et al, (2018) regard commercialization of research results as an important way of transferring information (p. 120). The study results indicate the same: the questionnaire results showed that the tourism industry would want to receive the research results through online platforms, where the information needs to be quick and concise. In addition, the best practices cases also showed some ideas on how information had been commercialized, for example as a public presentation or a poster.

ReWo project aims to tackle these issues, for example by experimenting with new methods to convey research results to industry through visualizations and finding the most effective media to share them among the businesses. In addition, ReWo project will explore role of an “idea manager” which would act as an intermediator between HEIs and the industry stakeholders. As a long-term objective, ReWo project aims to propose updating curricula to better bridge the gap between students, studies, and working life.

The aim of this best practices report was to offer very simple and concrete acts or practices that could help anyone to take little steps towards more collaborative education. More strategic work that can affect the frameworks of education is still needed.


Cooper, C. 2015. Managing tourism knowledge. Tourism Recreation Research, 40(1), 107-119.

Davey, T., Meerman, A., Galán-Muros, V., Orazbayeva, B., & Baaken, T. (2018). The state of university-business cooperation in Europe. Publications Office of the European Union. Accessed 5.9.2023. Final_report_14_05_2018.indd (

Hudson, S. 2013. Knowledge exchange: A destination perspective. Journal of Destination Marketing & Management, 2(3), 129-131.

Häikiö, S., Prevost, N. & Rödel, M. 2021. Internalization from within – International students strengthen the intercultural competence in local businesses. Lumen 03/2021. Internationalisation from within – International students strengthen the intercultural competence in local businesses – Lumen (

Kangastie, H. 2014. Lapin ammattikorkeakoulu oppivaa, osaavaa ja luovaa aluetta kehittämässä. Jankkila, H., & Kangastie, H. (toim.). Työelämälähtöisyys ja -läheisyys Lapin ammattikorkeakoulussa: Toimintamallin avaus, 17-25.

Kivekäs, M. 2023. Saarenvire. CEO statements in Panel discussion in Vaikuttavuus ja tulosten hyödyntäminen kehittämisetyössä -seminar (Impact and use of results in development work seminar) 27.1.2023

Lapland University of Applied Sciences. 2023. Curricula. Home | Study Guide, Lapin AMK ( 31.8.2023

Mäki, K. 2019. Ammattikorkeakoulupedagogiikka–tiedon ja taidon oppimisen rajapinnassa. Ammatilliseksi opettajaksi. Accessed 19.1.2024. ammatilliseksiopettajaksi.pdf (

Passoja, A. 2022. Matkailukoulutus menetti nuoret – Ronja Rissanen ei säikähtänyt alan turbulenssia: “Maailmasta ei tiedä, mutta pitää ajatella positiivisesti.” Yle. Matkailukoulutus menetti nuoret – Ronja Rissanen ei säikähtänyt alan turbulenssia: “Maailmasta ei tiedä, mutta pitää ajatella positiivisesti” | Yle 31.8.2022

Puhakka-Tarvainen, Helena. 2023.  Lietsu Boutique Aparthotel. Private e-mail exchange 10.10.2023. Malla Alatalo.

Ruhanen, L., & Cooper, C. 2004. Applying a knowledge management framework to tourism research. Tourism Recreation Research, 29(1), 83-87.

University of Maribor 2021. Study tourism – Faculty of Tourism. 11.7.2021. Accessed 10.10.2023

Uutela, J. 2023. Beyond Arctic. CEO statements in panel discussion in Vaikuttavuus ja tulosten hyödyntäminen kehittämistyössä -seminar (Impact and use of results in development work seminar) 27.1.2023.

In writing this report, the authors have utilized artificial intelligence tool, ChatGPT version 3.5 to support ideation (For chapter 2). The authors have thoroughly reviewed and edited the content generated by AI taking full responsibility for the text.