Work integrated learning (WIL) includes all activities which engage students in authentic professional practice. WIL aims to build disciplinary knowledge, skills and understanding, which are also embedded in the curriculum.

WIL is an important component of the VU Block Mode. All courses are expected to include aspects of WIL in the curriculum. VU has a strong commitment through The VU Way to:

  • broaden the range of high quality WIL opportunities available to our students
  • enhance the inclusivity of those options.

Embedding WIL in the curriculum is part of our commitment to enhancing employability. It helps to ensure that VU graduates are sought after as highly capable employees and employers.

What is WIL?

WIL involves students in learning that links authentic real world professional experiences with disciplinary theory. It is an overarching term for the many experiential learning activities typical of disciplines including:

  • practice integrated learning
  • client-driven projects
  • placements
  • practicum
  • industry-focused research
  • laboratories
  • fieldwork
  • cadetships and internships
  • simulations (such as moot courts and virtual businesses).

Understanding WIL

Authenticity refers to how well WIL activities reflect current professional practice and the conditions typical of practice settings (such as uncertainty, dilemmas, time pressures and a need for interpersonal collaboration).

It is not just about a ‘real world’ setting, but requires students to be provided with authentic tasks that align with intended learning outcomes, learning goals, and supervision by someone whose practice is current. Participating in a well-constructed, industry-endorsed simulation, tightly linked to curricula learning and featuring debriefs and guided reflection could be ‘authentic’.

Integration with curriculum refers to activity, such as placement or project activities, that is embedded in the broader curriculum of credit-bearing units of study, according to the principles of constructive alignment. Where applicable, accreditation or registration requirements will also be satisfied by these activities.

Co-curricula WIL may prepare or support students to achieve learning outcomes in curricula WIL. These activities may be formally assessed, but are not fully embedded in a unit of study. View a tool to assist you with how to scaffold a WIL program in a degree course.

Extra-curricula WIL refers to unsupported, non-assessed, non-university auspiced activities undertaken by students outside of a course of study. These activities may enhance disciplinary WIL or prepare students to participate in curriculum integrated WIL.

WIL settings can be ‘onsite’ or ‘offsite’. Virtual activities will be carried out in one of these settings.

Offsite settings may include:

  • community organisations
  • social enterprises
  • large, small or medium sized for-profit organisations, within Australia or overseas.

Onsite settings may include:

  • VU student clinics, where members of the public access services provided by students under supervision as part of their learning
  • ‘Students as Staff’ program (some opportunities)
  • projects conducted on campus, with outcomes driven by the needs of external partners or clients.

Benefits of WIL

WIL benefits all stakeholders if done well: students, teachers, universities, communities and employers. Students gain enhanced professional, practical and academic skills, plus enhanced employability, career planning skills and insights, and expanded professional networks. The development of these skills and capacities aligns with Victoria University’s graduate capabilities. High quality WIL can also support students’ engagement with and commitment to their studies.

Staff may benefit from having learners with these attributes in a course. Where WIL is part of deeper, multi-layered partnerships, it may be a bridge to building research partnerships and other types of strong external relationships. Hosts and partners typically value WIL for this reason too, as well as a means for refreshing knowledge currency in their organisation, and a recruitment strategy.

Requirements for WIL activities

WIL activity needs to meet FWA conditions that distinguish legitimate WIL from exploitative and illegal forms of unpaid work. Unpaid work experience and volunteering as WIL activities are also subject to conditions. There are specific considerations for international students in participation in WIL.

A formal WIL Agreement between the University, the student and a host organisation must be entered into before WIL activity is undertaken. The exceptions are if WIL is undertaken as part of the ‘Students as Staff’ program, or in a university clinic. The University cannot contract with parts of itself. An agreement is essentially a contract that protects all parties involved.

Use Agreement A where students are engaged in activity comparable to that of a consultant, such as suggesting solutions to a host's challenge. Students will own the Intellectual Property (IP) but give the host organisation a licence to use the solution internally. Often there will be a number of students and this agreement is designed to be executed once by the host organisation and by all of the students – hence the use of 'Students' rather than 'Student'.

Use Agreement B for a placement type activity where the student is in a comparable situation to an employee (generally paid). The IP for any outputs created is assigned to the host and the student and the University are given limited licences to use it.

If in doubt, or if neither of these agreements meets your needs, then please contact the University's Legal Services team.

Note that for the vast majority of WIL activities, Agreement A is the preferred document to use.

With respect to WIL, VU expects that host organisations will have adequate insurance cover for all people acting on its behalf (including VU students on a placement). However, in the event of the host organisation failing to provide adequate cover, it is automatic for eligible students engaged in WIL activities. To be eligible, a VU student must be:

  • Currently enrolled;
  • Covered by a formal WIL agreement, which shows that the activity is authorised by VU. (A formal WIL agreement is one of the standard university Agreements A or B, or an alternative approved by Legal Services.);
  • Engaging in activity that must be a credit-bearing component of the course, but which can be either compulsory or optional.

To clarify, a VU WIL activity is a credit-bearing component of a course and not just any activity arranged through or facilitated by VU.  If an activity is related to a course, but the learning from that activity cannot be invested in the final grade, then the activity is not a WIL activity for the purposes of the policy.

Preparing students for their WIL activities includes ensuring that they are aware of and understand the conditions of their insurance coverage prior to commencing the WIL activity. The insurance policies that cover VU students are outlined in the insurance schedule (login required).

Students undertaking WIL activities in VU affiliated clubs and societies are covered by VU’s insurance.

Aon Insurance is the University's principal insurance advisor and broker. For all insurance and risk related queries please contact Aon on [email protected]

For all travel emergency assistance (24 hours, 7 days a week) please contact ACE Assistance +61 2 8907 5995.

Requirements for students undertaking offsite WIL are largely determined by the policies of host organisations.

Police Checks

These are obtained from the Australian Federal Police. Please refer to National Police Checks for details.

Working with Children Check

The Working with Children Check (WWCC), issued by the Victorian government, may be required for students or staff who engage with children during WIL activities. The WWCC is free for WIL activities on a volunteer basis. Various discounts are available for organisation, students or for unwaged applicants. You can save students considerable expense by organising a bulk application.

The Occupational Health and Safety Act (2004) requires the University to ensure that staff and students are not placed in harmful situations. Staff can meet this requirement in WIL contexts by having evidence of reasonably certainty that offsite WIL activities and environments are safe and support student wellbeing.

The TEQSA 2016 Guidance Note for Work Integrated Learning also requires universities to quality assure offsite settings as being ‘fit for purpose’.

These requirements might be met by documenting site visits at least yearly, gathering feedback from students on their experiences, and monitoring responses to incidents. The more risky the environment (e.g. physical risk, wellbeing and mental health) the more safeguards would be expected to be in place.

Educating students about what they need to know and assessing the suitability of host environments can be most easily managed by developing a student checklist that suits your WIL program and student cohort. OHS staff can assist you with this task and with any further questions.

Log a request with P&C Service Centre
Phone: +61 3 9919 5999
Email: [email protected]

OHS incident reporting

The University’s student critical incident protocol is a flow chart guide for incident reporting. All incidents need to be reported through QuickSafe, the University's online reporting form.

Anti-discrimination legislation, University statutes and policies provide the framework for our equity and equal opportunity obligations. They guide staff and students on their rights and responsibilities in regard to unlawful discrimination and harassment. See the University's Student Equity and Social Inclusion policy for more details.

Safer Community should be used for reporting and actioning incidents, such as stalking, bullying and sexual assault, that require a non-immediate response.

The current Work Integrated Learning Policy for HE, the Work Integrated Learning Policy for VET as well as the Procedure are available in the Policy library.

The VU WIL system is the university-wide tool used to administer all types of WIL, including placements, internships, projects, simulations etc.

VU WIL (InPlace) provides:

  • workflows and functions that reduce the time spent on manual tasks
  • the ability to track WIL activities and outstanding tasks easily
  • access to quality data for WIL reporting.

VU WIL also provides a portal for students to upload key documents and check the details of their WIL activity at any time using a desktop, laptop, tablet or smartphone.

Log in to VU WIL

The WIL Digital Module was launched in February 2019.

For further information please contact the Work Integrated Learning team.

Key contacts

Please contact the Work Integrated Learning email below with suggestions about content for this page or to discuss WIL related matters.

Email: [email protected]

Additional resources