Work-Ready Graduates: Work-Integrated Learning at an Australian University
A priority for many Australian universities is the incorporation of work-based, experiential learning opportunities into undergraduate programmes so that graduates are flexible and ready for the workplace. This paper describes the implementation of work integrated learning into a Business programme at an Australian University.
A course, Project in Business, has been developed to give students the opportunity to complete curriculum aligned work integrated learning projects as an integral part of their academic programme. This course provides purposefully designed learning experiences that facilitate the integration of theory and practice: final year students undertake projects provided by the local business community. Assessment is made up of four components: (1) a research proposal (prepared in consultation with employer and academic); (2) an individual project diary documenting personal experiences and critical reflections on the placement; (3) presentation of research project to fellow students, academics in discipline area and employer representatives and (4) a final project research report. A student’s final grade incorporates a performance evaluation by the workplace supervisor.
Our experience suggests that workplace partners and students working together achieve the following outcomes:
• Work in a setting in which theory is put into practice
• An opportunity for reflection on their area of specialisation and career aspirations
• Gain realistic experience in the workplace in order to improve post-graduation employment opportunities
• Build up a network of employment contacts
• Improve acquisition and expression of generic skills and attributes
• An opportunity to secure and develop new talent
• Gain assistance with new or current work-related projects free of charge
• Gain exposure to the benefits of employing enthusiastic new graduates with fresh ideas and current discipline knowledge
• An opportunity to make a valuable contribution to the career development of students
Keywords: Work Integrated Learning, Business Course, Australian University
University Lecturer, Newcastle Business School, The University of Newcastle