12 August 2013
University of Newcastle calls for increase in internship support
The Vice Chancellor of the University of Newcastle, Professor Caroline McMillen, has today called for an increase in business and government support for internships as a way to boost regional economies, following a report from the Business Council of Australia linking increased internship opportunities with improved economic growth prospects.
"We have designed our undergraduate programs so that more than 90 percent of them provide students with opportunities to undertake work integrated learning activities, including internships, but we need more support for students whose family commitments or financial circumstances make accessing internship opportunities more difficult," she said.
Professor McMillen said internships – where students spend time in businesses and industry gaining practical experience as part of their academic program – improved the work-readiness of students and enhanced the value of graduates to employers.
"Preparing graduates to succeed on the global stage is a focus of Work Integrated Learning (WIL) at the University of Newcastle and is complementary to our mission of supporting students from all walks of life to succeed in higher education."
Each year the University attracts more than two million dollars in sponsorship towards WIL Industry Scholarships.
Professor McMillen said she also supports calls for tax credits to offset the cost of sponsoring internships, particularly for smaller employers.
"Smaller employers can find it harder to commit the funds and time to support students in the workplace, yet they have the most to gain from having work ready applicants who are able to be productive from the start of their employment. Tax credits are one way for the Government to encourage business spending that will raise productivity, increase the number of tertiary-educated employees and boost our regional economies."
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