Managing WIL placement risks

I was lucky enough to attend the Australian Collaborative Education Network (ACEN) conference recently held in Brisbane. This year the conference theme was Creating connections and building futures.

I found two presentations to be both relevant and timely and each addressed activities and contingencies around managing placement risks and regulating WIL. The point was made to think about risk in holistic terms and rethink risk as any issue (positive or negative) that affects WIL. From this perspective, risk management needs to be practical to ensure appropriate steps are in place to control the risk.

Five key types of risk were identified:

  • strategic risk – impacting on the university’s ability to achieve its goals in relation to WIL
  • legal risk – the university’s compliance with external (TEQSA) and/or internal rules and regulations
  • operational risk – managing the day to day operations of a WIL program
  • reputational risk – affecting the university’s prestige and brand
  • financial risk – the assets of the university.

This confirms that risk management is a shared responsibility and requires collaborations across the university and disciplines. Managing risk includes making sure the purpose of WIL as a student-centred activity is clear to enable the student to apply learning in a workplace setting to gain career awareness and employability skills.

Another key point highlighted that simple WIL agreements are a must and complex agreements can potentially lose host organisations, particularly SMEs. Naturally, our WIL agreements need to protect the student and university interests, but also need to be accessible in their language and intent.

The CILT WIL leadership team is currently engaged in reviewing our compliance documents to develop standardised compliance documents for use across the University and establish minimum standards for compliance in domestic and international placements. Our goal is to establish a standard compliance process by the end of this year and for implementation by January 2019. The intention is to ensure students have access to clear and consistent information about preparing for placement and the University is able to manage and track student compliance to minimise risk and ensure adherence to our contractual arrangements. We are currently close to finalising our compliance documents to be used for all WIL placements and will then proceed to develop and update resources which communicate to our stakeholders (students; academic staff; host providers; wider University community) our information and procedures relating to WIL compliance.

If you would like further information, please contact Nina Tabor, Manager, Work Integrated Learning.

Referenced presentations

‘Identifying and Managing Placement Risk at Home and Abroad’ by Dr Craig Cameron, Fleur Webb and Associate Professor Alan Blackman.

‘Regulation of WIL and Managing the Risks’ by Professor Andrew Stewart, Dr Craig Cameron and Associate Professor Judith Smith.

Contributed by Nina Tabor
Manager, Work Integrated Learning – CILT

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