Hotel School alumni give students a chance to study

"‘If you are well off, you also wish that for others’, says Smits. He believes that the foundation emphasizes the close social involvement around the Hotel School community of students, teachers, and alumni." 

As the first hotel school in the Netherlands, the Hotel Management School Maastricht (HMSM) helps students financially through a special foundation. Students who want to study at the HMSM, but do not have the financial means to do so can now appeal to the Foundation HMSM.

Dean Ad Smits and student Jean Maroun

Establishing the foundation

Essentially, it is the epitome of hospitality. Helping young people so that they can study. It therefore comes as no surprise that – of all universities – the Hotel Management School Maastricht (HMSM) has come up with such a hospitable plan. HMSM director Ad Smits was inspired by the foundations in the United States. ‘Every respected university in the United States has a foundation. Additionally, we were offered a bequest from an alumnus of the Hotel School a few years ago’, he says. There are more alumni who would like to give something back to the next generation of students. This resulted in the Director establishing the Foundation in 2020 in close cooperation with Vera Duhring (Dean Relations & Commercial Affairs) and Binie Hermans (Fundraising & Alumni Project Coordinator).

Legacy for top brand

‘If you are well off, you also wish that for others’, says Smits. He believes that the foundation emphasizes the close social involvement around the Hotel School community of students, teachers, and alumni. ‘Rather than an ordinary institute, the Hotel School is a top institution.’ Smits will step down as Director later this year. He sees the foundation as a part of his legacy to the Hotel School. 


A prerequisite for the foundation's success is a very close-knit community, and this is definitely the case around the Hotel School. Suzanne Laszlo knows that too. She is on the advisory board of the foundation and, as director of UNICEF Netherlands, she sees the importance of the social commitment of institutions like the hotel school on a daily basis. ‘They have a responsibility to contribute both domestically and internationally. If we in the Netherlands make education possible that is accessible to many people, it is nice to help others too. That is valuable for individual students and for their surroundings. A diploma provides opportunities, pride, and self-confidence. I therefore warmly support this initiative.’ In fact, as a former student of the Hotel School, Laszlo herself also contributed to the foundation.

Snowball effect

One foundation is a drop in the ocean, Laszlo acknowledges. ‘However, many drops make a world of difference. Allowing young people to study is the most powerful way to contribute to the reduction of inequality in the world. Education is a foundation to which everyone is entitled. Additionally, the effects of education are significant for local communities in areas such as economic development and stability. It is very important and sustainable to develop skills, knowledge, and entrepreneurship skills. Moreover, this creates a snowball effect. Others also start doing business when they see, for example, a student from the hotel school starting their own business.’

First student receives support

The first student to complete his studies thanks to the Foundation HMSM is Jean Maroun Bou Malhab (19) from Beirut. Because of the situation in Lebanon, his parents could not pay his anymore. It was impossible for Jean to pay for his tuition fee himself by working a part-time job in the Netherlands as his visa only permits him to work up to sixteen hours per week. The foundation collected 25,000 euros for him in just three months. Jean can now finish his studies after all, thanks to the generous donations of 150 alumni and staff. ‘I am grateful to everyone for that. An enormous burden has been lifted from my shoulders. As soon as I finish my studies and have my own bistro, I will contribute to the foundation. I will strive to give other students the same chance I am now being offered. I will always remain connected to the Hotel School. 

More information

More information about the Foundation HMSM can be found here.

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