Mind the Gap: Is the Regulation of Workintegrated Learning in Higher Education Working

34 Pages Posted: 8 Feb 2019 Last revised: 12 Feb 2019

See all articles by Anne Hewitt

Anne Hewitt

University of Adelaide - School of Law

Rosemary J Owens

University of Adelaide - School of Law

Andrew Stewart

Adelaide Law School

Date Written: 2018

Abstract

Many students feel that they are caught in a catch-22: they cannot gain work experience because they cannot find a job, but they cannot secure a job without having work experience. Consequently, opportunities to gain experience while studying, including work-integrated learning (‘WIL’) associated with university study, are becoming increasingly important, and the position of students undertaking work experience increasingly vulnerable. Students who wish to engage in WIL face a range of challenges, including accessing quality opportunities, maximising the learning benefits they can obtain from the experience, and ensuring they are treated appropriately within the workplace. Consideration of these issues indicates that the regulation of WIL is both complicated and fractured, not least because WIL may be envisaged as either ‘work’ or ‘learning’ –– each of which is regulated by different actors through different regulatory schemes and with different objectives.

This article introduces the concept of WIL, identifies some of the reasons for its rapid growth in the tertiary sector in recent years, and considers the ways it is regulated in Australia. It argues that, as a consequence of the gaps and lack of transparency in the current regulatory approach, the law is complicit in maintaining the precarious position of students trying to enter the workforce. Failing to extend protections against discrimination and harassment to those engaged in WIL, and failing to provide a sufficiently consistent or transparent regime to ensure educational quality, compound students’ existing vulnerability. This is contrasted with the regulatory systems in other countries, notably France, which offer protections to workplace learners against exploitation and seek to ensure educational outcomes.

Keywords: work experience, WIL, work-integrated learning

JEL Classification: K10

Suggested Citation

Hewitt, Anne and Owens, Rosemary J and Stewart, Andrew, Mind the Gap: Is the Regulation of Workintegrated Learning in Higher Education Working (2018). 2018 Mon Univ LR Vol44 p1, U. of Adelaide Law Research Paper No. 2019-43, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3330924

Anne Hewitt (Contact Author)

University of Adelaide - School of Law ( email )

Ligertwood Building
Adelaide 5005, South Australia SA 5005
Australia

Rosemary J Owens

University of Adelaide - School of Law ( email )

Ligertwood Building
Adelaide 5005, South Australia SA 5005
Australia

Andrew Stewart

Adelaide Law School ( email )

Ligertwood Building
Adelaide 5005, South Australia SA 5005
Australia

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