Partner perspectives on paid versus unpaid internships

Judy Hutchison, Jen McPherson, Jennifer Ruskin, Diana Caruso, Anna Rowe

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference abstract


Pressure to develop work-ready graduates is increasing, and universities are working more closely with industry partners to improve graduate employability, drive innovation and strengthen national economic competitiveness (ACEN, 2015). Internships provide one mechanism for enhancing students’ employability and active citizenship (Cooper, Orrell, & Bowden, 2010). Although long-term paid internships tend to be held up as a model of best practice in work integrated learning, and recent research suggests that both employers and students prefer this approach/model over short-term unpaid internships (Smith et al., 2015), unpaid internships continue to outnumber paid internships at Macquarie University. What influences an organisation’s decision to offer paid rather than unpaid internships? Focus groups held with industry partners at Macquarie University during April 2016 explore the perceived contributions of paid interns relative to unpaid interns, the impact on organisational capacity of hosting paid or unpaid interns, and Macquarie University industry partners’ awareness of paid intern models. At the same time, focus groups seek to provide an evidence base for improving work integrated learning and enhancing university-industry partnerships.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationWIL 2020
Subtitle of host publicationpushing the boundaries : ACEN 2016 Conference Proceedings
Place of PublicationSpringvale South, VIC
PublisherAustralian Collaborative Education Network
Number of pages1
ISBN (Print)9780980570632
Publication statusPublished - 2016
EventAustralian Collaborative Education Network National Conference - Sydney
Duration: 28 Sep 201630 Sep 2016


ConferenceAustralian Collaborative Education Network National Conference



  • work integrated learning
  • industry partnerships
  • paid internships
  • co-op model

Cite this

Hutchison, J., McPherson, J., Ruskin, J., Caruso, D., & Rowe, A. (2016). Partner perspectives on paid versus unpaid internships. In WIL 2020: pushing the boundaries : ACEN 2016 Conference Proceedings (pp. 165). Springvale South, VIC: Australian Collaborative Education Network.