Transforming practice for international student employability : access to and preparedness for internships

Bilsland, C. (Speaker), Jen McPherson (Speaker), Laura Ficorilli (Speaker)

Activity: Talk or presentationPresentation


Universities Australia has urged the Australian Government to implement a resourced, coordinated approach towards providing work-integrated learning (WIL) opportunities for international students to ensure that Australia remains a competitive study destination (Universities Australia, 2015). Although universities have a responsibility to provide WIL opportunities to international students (Gamble, Patrick & Peach, 2010) international students face challenges in accessing internship placements (Commonwealth of Australia, 2016; Gribble, Blackmore, & Rahimi, 2015; Jackson & Greenwood, 2015). This showcase presentation reports on a recent study of international students’ access to and preparedness for internships at an Australian university. We will present issues participants face in accessing internships, and outline recommendations for transforming practice that have emerged from project findings. Project data was collected through focus groups with 40 students and a content analysis of 30 international student internship applications. Many international students in our focus groups perceived difficulties in accessing desirable internships, feeling that employers prefer to invest in local student interns whose work hours and employment prospects are not restricted by visas. Participants expressed their desire for more extensive and meaningful engagement with local students, and additional support in application writing and interview preparation. Based on project findings we make two key recommendations as the basis for transforming practice that we will expand in our showcase session: further integration of employability into learning, teaching and curriculum, and further provision of opportunities to interact with local students and improve English language proficiency. We suggest that action in these key areas may assist international students in overcoming inherent disadvantages they face in accessing WIL and support International Education Association of Australia (IEAA) recommendations for targeted employability strategies, rather than one-size-fits-all approaches (Gribble, 2015).
Event titleHERDSA 2017: Curriculum transformation
Event typeConference
Conference number40
LocationSydney, Australia