Bas Vogelsangs likes a good challenge. Though he enjoyed his job heading the International Business Faculty at Avans University of Applied Sciences in Breda, the offer to take the helm of the Hotel Management School Maastricht (HMSM) and the School of Facility Management in Heerlen was too good to refuse.
‘Someone gave me a tip that Zuyd University of Applied Sciences was looking for someone to succeed Ad Smits’, Bas says, thinking back to an autumn day in 2021. ‘Frankly, I just couldn't pass up an opportunity to become the director of both the Hotel Management School Maastricht and the School of Facility Management. The Hotel Management School is such an amazing programme and big name in education. The location alone, with the Teaching Hotel Château Bethlehem in a stunning castle, and then the campus with housing for almost four hundred first-years. That's unique in the Netherlands. Plus, it has a stellar reputation. Students who get accepted to and complete this programme basically have their pick of jobs. Both in this country and abroad. So, who wouldn't want to be the director of that?’
‘My enthusiasm wasn't just for the Hotel School, though. I’m also director of the School of Facility Management in Heerlen, and if we're going to compare study programmes, this is one of the best. Number two in the national rankings. Lesser known, maybe, but very much in demand, and a major draw in a region that's contracting otherwise, which tells you a lot. I see the Facility Management School and the Hotel School as two sides of a coin. Facility Management trains the pros who stay more or less anonymous, the Hotel Management School those who go on to the front offices and management of hotels, restaurants, companies and organisations. They complement each other and fit together perfectly.’
As two sides of a coin, it makes sense to have the schools work together more. ‘That's my intention’, Bas asserts. ‘There is loads of overlap, after all. Back in the old days, to stereotype, facility managers took care of the coffee and the meeting room. Now, they're the pivot coordinating everything. Workspaces, catering, networks, you name it. These days, they're the cornerstone of companies and organisations. The same goes for graduates of the Hotel Management School, but then as managers in catering, at events and at businesses. It's all about hospitality. I believe they can learn from each other, and that's what we'll be working on in the years ahead.’
Bas Vogelsangs was born in 1973, studied commercial economics at Avans University of Applied Sciences, got his MBA from Nyenrode and studied abroad in Chicago in the United States. He worked for various companies before becoming a lecturer, and later manager, at Avans. ‘I really loved teaching’, he says, ‘and I would like to take that up again here. But the Executive Board hired me to manage things. My job is to enable lecturers to do their jobs. Fortunately, I do get to engage a lot with students, especially in Maastricht. The first-years live here, and that's really exceptional. You can see that it creates closer ties with the lecturers and management as well. At the Teaching Hotel, I get to experience the programme in action every day. The big advantage is that Zuyd has a manageable scale. Not too big, not too impersonal.’
The self-described ‘hobby chef, foodie and all-round bon vivant’ says that its iconic and immensely popular programmes are what make Zuyd special. The Toneelacademie Maastricht, Conservatorium Maastricht, Hotel Management School Maastricht... just try keeping students away, he jokes. ‘But obviously, you still need to make an effort. Like other border areas, Limburg is grappling with an ageing population, contraction and young people leaving the area. Our challenge is to attract students and lecturers. The way we do that is with an exciting curriculum and relevant research. The Hotel Management School draws students from all over the country and around the globe. We can't lose momentum. Currently, we're investing in new master's programmes that will be open to everyone. And next year, we'll be launching a new master's degree in partnership with sister institutions in Dublin and Barcelona. At the School of Facility Management, we're working on expanding our Associate degree programme. The aim across the board is to at least maintain the quality at the same level, and preferably getting it to a higher level still. So, all of that is keeping us busy.’
At the moment, Bas is still commuting between South Limburg and his home in Den Bosch. But not for much longer. ‘My wife Brigitte and I will be moving here and are looking for a place in Maastricht. I think that's proof positive that I like it here. This job fits me to a T. Gastronomically, it's brilliant, of course, and as avid hikers, we've got it made.’
Lucas Obermüller, second-year student from Germany, about his passion for hospitality and what hospitality means to him.
Bas Vogelsangs reflects on his first months as director at the HMSM.