Work integrated learning internships in transnational education: Alumni perspectives from Vietnam

Christine Bilsland*, Leanne Carter, Leigh N. Wood

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

20 Citations (Scopus)


Purpose: Research into employability initiatives such as work integrated learning (WIL) in transnational education (TNE) is scarce, and the alumni voice in TNE is largely unreported. The purpose of this paper is to contribute to TNE research by investigating the value of internship electives in the TNE campus location.

Design/methodology/approach: A grounded theory approach employed semi-structured interviews with local business undergraduate alumni in Vietnam.

Findings: Internships were instrumental to local graduate employment transitions. University support of WIL internships was a valuable differentiator in the Vietnamese university context, where internships lack formal support mechanisms. Alumni regarded internships as transformational learning journeys, rather than simply as pathways to post-graduate jobs.

Research limitations/implications: The scope of the study was Vietnam. Findings imply the importance of incorporating local stakeholder perspectives into TNE, particularly regarding WIL. 

Practical implications: Universities that operate in transnational environments must meet local stakeholder needs by providing authentic, industry-related learning activities. The findings support the integration of WIL internships into TNE programmes in Vietnam and further research relevant to other TNE contexts. 

Originality/value: The study contributes to underdeveloped TNE research around employability in general, and more specifically about the particular value of internships in TNE campus locations. Alumni stakeholders constitute uniquely valuable feedback sources based on their shared experience as TNE students, interns and graduate employees in local work environments. Their insights enable universities to facilitate locally relevant learning outcomes.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)359-373
Number of pages15
JournalEducation and Training
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 11 Mar 2019


  • Alumni
  • Employability
  • Internships
  • Transnational education
  • Vietnam
  • Work integrated learning


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