Research unpacking student scholarships for work experience

applying for a scholarship

Financial support for students undertaking work integrated learning is essential for improving the accessibility of internships and work placements. Research from the University of Adelaide Law School has identified key gaps in these programs and generated recommendations for maximising their accessibility.

Work integrated learning (WIL) is a key component of many university courses in which students undertake placements or internships in the workplace.

Unfortunately, while these programs may be effective learning experiences, they are often inaccessible to many students and can contribute to existing social disadvantage due to the expectation of unpaid work.

One solution to this issue is for universities to offer financial support for students to undertake WIL, but it is essential that these support programs (collectively referred to as “studentships”) be implemented carefully to maximise their benefit to the student and minimise risk to the funding organisation.

Associate Professor Anne Hewitt of the University of Adelaide Law School and Dr Craig Cameron from Griffith University, together with funding from the Australian Collaborative Education Network, have conducted brand new research which interrogates this issue.

“This is the first research undertaken in Australia which sheds light on what support is available for students engaged in WIL. It lets us better understand the kinds of support being offered, who is sponsoring it, and how that support is being structured,” Associate Professor Hewitt explained.

The report, which can be found here, includes thirteen key recommendations for funding organisations to consider when setting up financial support for WIL.

“Clear communication is central to these recommendations, and we’ve highlighted a need for transparency about studentship opportunities,” Associate Professor Hewitt adds.

“Another recommendation identifies the need for funding organisations to consider equality of access from the very beginning of the program, offering a diverse range of financial support opportunities that can cater to the specific needs of different student groups.”

What’s next?

Associate Professor Hewitt hopes that this comprehensive review of WIL studentships will provide a solid base of evidence for organisations to use when creating financial support for students.

“This research will help all stakeholders, including universities, charitable organisations, and students, to identify where there are gaps in the support available, as well as consider the hazards and benefits,” she says.

“This will support an improvement in the quantity and quality of financial support schemes, while also increasing the number of well-informed sponsors willing to provide the support and confidently manage the associated risks.”

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