One of the distinctive features of work-integrated learning (WIL) is the educational partnership with industry and community. This is well recognised by the government’s National Priorities and Industry Linkage Fund (NPILF), introduced under the Job-ready Graduates Package in 2020, and also in the 2022 revision to the TEQSA WIL Guidance Note. Through WIL, students are prepared for the world of work and are supported and mentored by external partners to learn in a work context and build their professional networks.

Developing new host-university relationships is time-intensive and a significant resource commitment for universities and partners alike. The Australian Collaborative Education Network (ACEN) offers a WIL Guide (aligned to ACEN’s Vision) that helps external partners and employers understand the broad terms of WIL and how to make the most of WIL in their specific context.

To strengthen educational partnerships and stakeholder engagement, ACEN also offers a self-paced, online module for practitioners who plan to supervise and mentor students. WIL is at its best when the interests of all partners are met, and mutually beneficial and sustainable partnerships reduce the challenges associated with new partnership development.

Stakeholder engagement is also enhanced when the different ways in which WIL can benefit the community and industry are made clear. For example:

* WIL programs create a learning environment in the workplace that develops everybody’s professionalism. Reflective practice and mentoring programs make a workplace more inclusive, and celebrate diversity and social learning

* WIL students bring new ideas and practices to the placement hosts. Students’ participation can improve hosts’ ability to compete and innovate and may also boost research capacity

* WIL partnerships build and broaden connection to universities and enhance possibilities for future collaborations, which can include: upskilling the hosts’ workforce; collaborating in research; attracting PhD students; and having greater social and economic impact

* WIL partnerships ensure industry-relevant courses, helping universities understand what industry and the community need in a graduate employee.

For examples of these points please see the Live Ideas Case Study on the ACEN website.

ACEN is currently rethinking the National Strategy For WIL and it is clear that the future of WIL depends on stakeholder engagement. It is important therefore that any WIL activity is developed based on collaborative and sustainable partnerships that are responsive to the needs of all.

For more information, check out ACEN’s Linking Industry and Universities webpage.


This CMM ACEN Snapshot (No 5) is authored by the ACEN Board @ACENau


to get daily updates on what's happening in the world of Australian Higher Education