INDUSTRY experts fear the closure of a university restaurant would trigger the downfall of its world-leading hospitality course.

Visiting fellows have written to the dean at Oxford Brookes, after it emerged that Brookes Restaurant is at risk of closure.

The restaurant is open to the public, and students in the institution’s Oxford School of Hospitality Management train there.

A consultation about the restaurant’s future has prompted huge backlash from students, staff and residents, and now alumni and visiting fellows.

Visiting fellows of the school (OSHM), who are senior leaders and entrepreneurs from the hospitality industry, have written to the dean with concerns.

Their letter states: “We are extremely concerned about the future of the school.

“Recent events have led us to feel there is a depleted understanding of or commitment to OSHM, other than, perhaps, its usefulness as a marketing tool for the wider Business School.

“This trend will undoubtedly lead towards a loss of status that will, in turn, affect the ability of the university to attract and retain industry experienced teaching colleagues, and to compete with alternative institutions."

The hospitality school ranked third in the 2016 Worldwide Hospitality Awards.

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Fellows said the restaurant is one of the key attractions for prospective students, adding: “We would be very interested to understand how you propose to replicate or sustain these vital aspects of the curriculum.”

They said they are keen to discuss other options to ensure the school’s viability.

The letter added: “We appreciate that, with the departure of a number of key, long-serving colleagues, change is both inevitable and necessary.

“However, we’d be keen to know what is being done to ensure that all that is good about OSHM can be preserved and evolved, as opposed to the dilution that, sadly, now appears inevitable.”

Oxford Mail:

Alumni of the school have also told the Oxford Mail about the importance of the restaurant.

Charley Grafton-Callaghan, who graduated from the hospitality school in 2008, said she is ‘outraged’ by the proposal.

The alumna, who has gone on to have a successful career in PR and events, said: “I was not only saddened but appalled to hear of the possibility of closure, I feel it is very short-sighted from the administration.

“The Brookes restaurant is at the core of the hospitality program at Brookes and an asset to the university as a whole.

“I have very fond memories of my time studying under the amazing team there, gaining understanding and practical skills - it was by far the most inspiring learning environment of my university experience.”

READ AGAIN: Staff oppose closure plan for Oxford Brookes restaurant

Owen Gilani-Farr, who studied there from 2010-14, is now restaurant manager at the highly-rated Queensberry Hotel in Bath.

He branded the idea ‘absurd,’ adding: “It is no exaggeration to say that I wouldn’t be where I am in my career without Brookes Restaurant.

“Whatever the financial or business reasons behind it, this is a short-sighted view of a crucial and invaluable resource.

“The restaurant has, for years, provided a training ground and learning resource for hundreds of graduates who are now senior managers and leaders within the global hospitality industry.”

He said the restaurant also provides a ‘hub’ for students, staff and local residents.

Oxford Brookes has said it will not be commenting further on the matter at this stage, but has confirmed that the restaurant will remain open for the 2019/2020 academic year, regardless of the decision.

The university is expected to announce its decision within weeks.