Gatekeepers of work-integrated learning (WIL)

the role of organisations and their employees in equitable student access to placements and internships

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Abstract

There are students from a variety of disciplines who struggle to access a work-integrated learning (WIL) placement or internship as part of their university studies. Despite the important role organisations play in hosting WIL students, most efforts to understand this issue have neglected to explore their perspectives. This paper presents a Framework which is based on a synthesis of key findings from two exploratory studies that sought to understand the challenge of equitable student access to placements/internships from the perspective of organisations who host students. Throughout the research and development of the Framework, qualitative data was drawn from organisational documents and interviews with those from organisations involved in WIL programs. Concepts such as social inclusion/exclusion, organisational culture, gatekeeping, and normative and instrumental mediators in decision making were utilized to frame the research question, analyse data and explain findings. Findings demonstrate that the WIL gatekeeper decision making process is not straightforward and subject to change. The Framework presented explicates this complex process and will help those responsible for placements/internships to identify strategies to reduce access barriers and widen student participation. An inclusive approach to student selection will help maximise the full potential of WIL for stakeholders and society more broadly. While this paper is based on a small Australian study, the findings and Framework have relevance to other countries where WIL is commonly used.
Original languageEnglish
JournalHigher education research & development
Publication statusSubmitted - 27 Oct 2020

Keywords

  • work-integrated learning (WIL)
  • internships
  • access
  • equity
  • placements
  • inclusion

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