The University of Newcastle, Australia

Hands on at UON with Work Integrated Learning

Providing meaningful, hands on workplace experience to enrich the theoretical learning of its students, and to enhance the employability of its graduates, is a key focus of our University.

Over the last decade, the number of WIL opportunities offered by the UON has increased substantially. In fact, in 2017 there were over 23,000 WIL experiences undertaken by students at our University.  The University will continue its commitment to engage with our community and create career-ready graduates, by continuing to grow the number and variety, of WIL opportunities for its students.

While work experience, volunteering and the like can be valuable to increase student employability skills, it is not work integrated learning. Work Integrated Learning - or WIL as we like to call it - is an umbrella term used to describe a range of approaches that integrate theory with the practice of work within a purposefully designed curriculum. That means, for it to be WIL, it needs to be part of a course or a graduation requirement of a program.

Work Integrated Learning - Picture by Mathew GloverImage by artist Mathew Glover for Hands on @ UON

What is WIL

WIL is known by many names across the University and Australia. You may have heard of WIL as practicum, clinical placement, internship or fieldwork, to name a few.

WIL also occurs in various types. While placement is the most known form, WIL can also be project-based learning, simulation activities, clinic-based, fieldwork and even virtual.

WIL opportunities are aligned with the curriculum of more than 350 undergraduate and postgraduate courses offered by the UON and are delivered at different times of the year.

  • WIL can be real or simulated, provided on or off campus, a compulsory or optional part of your program;
  • WIL can be designed to meet the needs of an industry, business or community partner to achieve real-world outcomes;
  • WIL students are expected to exemplify the skills, attitudes and attributes of a professional in their field of expertise.
  • WIL involves clearly stated outcomes and assessment, and should be consistent with quality teaching and learning

What can WIL do for your organisation?

The University of Newcastle’s (UON) commitment to providing world-class learning opportunities for its students underpins WIL as a process of reciprocal involvement for the mutual benefit of all involved.

Benefits for hosts:

  • Benefit from the injection of new and innovative ideas, cognitive diversity, and ‘fresh eyes’ of students;
  • Work with UON staff to design a project to create real-world outcomes for your organisation;
  • Have direct access to a pool of talented graduates for future employment;
  • Provide your current staff with a valuable professional development opportunity as mentees; and
  • Engage directly with the UON and help to shape the future of the degree programs offered by the world-class organisation.

Benefits for students:

  • WIL makes students career-ready
  • Enriched knowledge of field of study through hands on exposure in the workplace;
  • Provides an insight into the professional attitudes and attributes needed to be prepared for the jobs of the future; and
  • WIL provides a competitive advantage in the competitive global employment marketplace.

WIL allows industry and the UON to work together to develop Australia’s future workforce and to help build our national economy, through ensuring that graduates are adept and sufficiently agile to face the challenges of a changing job market.

How does WIL work at UON

WIL courses and industry experience are available to domestic and international students enrolled in most undergraduate, postgraduate or research higher degrees.

The majority of the undergraduate degree programs offered by the UON include an opportunity for students to take part in some type of WIL. Tens of thousands of students from across the University take part in a diverse range of core, compulsory, elective, and directed WIL courses opportunities each year.

It is not just teachers, nurses, doctors and engineers that can take part in these meaningful workplace learning opportunities, with WIL courses being offered as part of degree programs in diverse fields such as Information Technology, Communications and Design, Creative Industries, Business, Commerce and Marketing.

As WIL is predominantly part of courses within degrees, WIL opportunities are delivered at different times of the year, depending on the course and semester timetable and annual course structures.

Identifying the discipline or area that you are in is the first step to find the best point of contact. A list of the disciplines that include WIL opportunities and a selection of the courses available, as well as contacts for enquiries, is available.

If you would like to know more about WIL in your program or get involved in a WIL course, reading the course handbook is a good place to gain valuable information before contacting the faculty or course coordinator.

A number of programs require students to complete compulsory clinical, industrial or professional placement. If your opportunity relates to these listed below further information is available from:

What does WIL cost?

UON recognises the value of WIL experiences for its students, and has developed policies to ensure placements comply with the Fair Work Act 2009.

As WIL is aligned with the curriculum, there is generally no expectation that the student will be remunerated, in fact, the majority of WIL placements are unpaid.

The cost to the WL host will vary depending on the nature of the project and the resources needed to achieve the project goals. Time and expertise of its staff, to help guide and mentor the WIL student to achieve the project outcomes, is the main outlay of a host organisation.

If your organisation would like a student quickly, is long or short term, or is for a specific purpose not aligned to curriculum learning outcomes, your opportunity may be better considered as paid work. The Careers Service can help with advertising employment opportunities to our students.

What about insurance?

The University has insurance to cover students undertaking professional experience including while undertaking WIL that is a course requirement and unpaid. The WIL experience must form part of the curriculum and be assessed by a course coordinator.

The University may provide the host organisation with a copy of the University's certificate of currency for a relevant insurance policy.

To learn more about insurance for WIL, please read about the University's insurance