Work Integrated Learning (WIL) activities are structured and purposefully designed learning and assessment tools that allow you to integrate theory into a workplace, community, or project setting.
Work Integrated Learning can include but is not limited to:
- work placement (sometimes also called professional placement, clinical placement, professional experience placement or field education – depending on your course)
- community placements
- simulated work environments
- projects undertaken with an external partner
- formal internships.
All of these will be directly related to your course and usually provide credit towards your studies.
The majority of our courses include some component or opportunity for a WIL experience.
There will be inductions, mandatory checks, forms, and in a lot of cases, vaccinations that must be completed prior to WIL placements, some of which take a while to organise - check your course requirements early and start getting organised.
Benefits of work integrated learning for students
- Put your studies so far and your understanding of the theory to the test in a workplace environment, usually while gaining credit toward your qualification
- Gain or increase your understanding of what skills, work ethic, and practical aspects employers value – hit the workforce or your new career direction running following graduation
- Make contacts and start to build your professional network – very useful for your future employment prospects!
- Build your experience in your area of study – students often report that a lack of experience is a barrier to getting a job, getting experience while you are still studying helps overcome this hurdle
- Most courses will provide more than one opportunity for WIL, you may be able to enjoy placements across different aspects of your industry (private vs. public school for example if you are studying teaching)
Different types of work integrated learning
Courses often require real work experience, which may be organized by the CQU or you might need to organise your own. It is important to ensure that the chosen workplace meets the course requirements.
Some examples of work placements include engineering students undertaking a 12-week placement with an employer appropriate to your interest area/major, oral health students working in a school dental van, agriculture students working in a livestock enterprise, or a disability services student working in a disability support organisation.
All work placements must have an appropriately qualified supervisor and all placements must be approved by the University prior to commencement.
Some work placements, in different discipline areas are called clinical and professional placements or internships (see below for more details). These are essentially the same experience but relevant to the name used by a particular industry/discipline group.
Clinical placement/professional experience placement - Health courses
Clinical placement is the period of learning where you get to practice in real healthcare settings and with real patients. As you can appreciate, these placements are only carried out once you have completed some mandatory checks, have all your required vaccinations up to date (it is best to start organising your check and vaccinations early as they can take a while to complete) and have been thoroughly inducted by the industry partner you will be placed with.
You will be rostered to work different shifts and a facilitator or preceptor will complete an assessment of your skills during the placement, and you will be supervised by qualified staff onsite.
Professional experience - Teacher Education
Professional experience provides pre-service teachers (education students) with the opportunity to learn and practise teachers’ work in educational settings such as schools, classrooms, and early learning contexts. This professional learning takes place under the guidance and direct supervision of experienced, registered teachers.
Participation in professional experience is critical to the success of pre-service teachers as they prepare for entry into the teaching profession. Research evidence clearly shows that professional experience placements provide pre-service teachers with new ways of knowing, understanding, and learning the knowledge, skills, and attitudes required for effective teaching that cannot be acquired anywhere else.
The importance of professional experience for aspiring teachers is also evident in the fact that supervised, assessable placements are mandatory components of accredited initial teacher education courses in Australia.
Primarily for International Students, internships usually take place over a semester (10-12 weeks), replacing a normal course load at the end of your studies and extending the opportunity to work in with an industry partner.
There are plans to also incorporate some internships into domestic courses as well, watch this space!
Industry partners offer a wealth of experience and real-life learning experience for CQUniversity students, being part of a project team to solve a business problem for a small business, government department, or local government/council (to name a few) could provide practical business and work skills that you require for your new or next career. Usually based around more office-based occupations, students undertaking project work could be involved in marketing and promotional planning, graphic design projects, business planning, sustainability planning, or developing an information technology-based solution or application.
Simulated workplace settings
Simulations are used across a number of courses to give students the experience of a real-life scenario in a secure, contained environment.
Nursing students may use the Mask-Ed technology where a clinical in a mask ‘plays’ the patient to hone their communication, leadership, and clinical reasoning skills or paramedic students may treat a simulated car crash victim to practice their emergency response skills and working under pressure, just to name a couple of examples.
CQUniversity global experiences
Not all work integrated learning opportunities are based in Australia, CQUniversity also promotes and supports a range of learning and partner opportunities offshore. CQUGlobal Outbound facilitates students to travel abroad for a semester or two, a week or two, or with a specific cohort study tour to enhance their experience (and horizons!)
How work integrated learning works
- Check the WIL requirements for each unit contained within your qualification (WIL placements for each course ), paying particular attention to the mandatory check and vaccination requirements for each placement (get started on these early as some of them take a while and also note that some of them carry costs, so also good to plan ahead in that respect). You are responsible for making sure you have completed all the mandatory checks and other requirements prior to the cut-off dates for your placement – don’t expect to be told or reminded to get these completed. Students who do not have all the necessary checks and vaccinations cannot be released on placement. Proof of mandatory check and completed vaccinations need to be uploaded to the University system (you’ll find more information about this on MyCQU once you enrol).
- Your course and/or the WIL team will help you navigate whether you need to find your own placement or whether one will be found for you. The WIL team will help ensure that all mandatory checks, vaccinations, and any other conditions of your placement are met (you’ll need to provide proof) and make sure that you are fully covered by the University’s insurance, policies.
- You’ll receive details of the assessment activities you will need to complete from your course team and you should also know who your contact is at your industry partner.
- The industry partner or your course team (depending on your course) will let you know when and where you will be expected to start your placement (when to turn up and where to go). The industry partner will also ensure you receive a full induction into your workplace.
- Complete your work placement and your assessment requirements and your industry host will complete their observations and ensure you receive supervision and mentoring.
- Return to university, with a better understanding of the theory you have been learning and both improved expectations of the career you are training for and some highly sought-after practical experience.