In early April a national survey was administered by ACEN (Australian Collaborative Education Network) to its members to assess the impact of COVID-19 on professional placements and the contingencies developed as a result of the impact.
40 usable responses from 28 Universities were collected with 11 discipline areas represented including Health, Creative Arts, Education and IT and the results make for interesting reading.
The results correspond closely with our experience at Flinders, identifying:
- The majority of non-accredited placements were retained in some form and only a small percentage were cancelled.
- The majority of accredited placements (eg: clinical health placements) were postponed, with a view to reinstate when health and safety issues have been removed. Pleasingly our year 3 and 4 MD placements have been maintained.
- Alternative placement models such as virtual WIL placements have increased.
- Cancellations of placements coupled with the lack of certainty has weighed heavily on students, although regular communications and improved online access has reduced concerns.
- The relationships between the University and industry has been nurtured and strengthened.
All our WIL areas are working closely with industry partners to maintain WIL placements or devise alternatives to enable WIL to occur. With the easing of restrictions, WIL teams are reaching out to industry to offer support including recovery strategies, additional resourcing and options for alternative models of WIL. To date, the uptake has been very positive. New WIL practices are being welcomed and will hopefully be adopted and continue into the second half of 2020 and beyond.
Written by Nina Tabor
Manager, Work Integrated Learning – CILT