2.2 Guidelines for Inclusive WIL

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The guidelines assist universities to put the principles of inclusive WIL into practice. They relate to WIL policies, practices design and delivery. The guidelines are recommendations, intended to assist in determining the best course of action and are aimed primarily at building university capacity to provide inclusive WIL. To maximise utility these guidelines should be read in conjunction with the Principles of Inclusive WIL and the Strategies for Implementation.


Guidelines for Inclusive WIL


      1.    Adopt a flexible approach for policies, practices, design and delivery of WIL

Flexible and adaptive approaches in terms of modes of participation and institutional policy and processes are fundamental to inclusive WIL. The concept of flexibility in approach and design underpins several other guidelines and examples. This could involve affording student’s choice about how, when and where they engage in WIL and how this experience is assessed. Inclusive WIL is responsive to student needs and, where possible offers flexibility in policy, administrative processes, curriculum design and teaching practices.


      2.    Provide support for students that takes a holistic and inclusive view of students’ lives

Student diversity incorporates targeted equity groups and extends to include students’ backgrounds, skills and capabilities, life experiences, values, beliefs, perspectives, personality, responsibilities etc. A holistic view of students and their lives highlights that learning opportunities and support provided must be all-encompassing.  The provision of clear, timely advice on the requirements of WIL, and the potential impact of WIL on personal circumstances, can help students make informed decisions about their studies and other commitments, e.g. family and cultural responsibilities, personal finances, work commitments.


To be successful students need to be well prepared for WIL, taking into account what happens before, during and after their WIL experience. The support provided during these phases will depend on the context and cohort, but may involve developing communication and language proficiency, guiding expectations, cultivating reflective skills, mediating learning during and after placement. The aim is to ensure all students have opportunities to build the capabilities they need and the resilience required to maximise their WIL experience.

       3.    Provide support for staff to implement inclusive principles and guidelines

 Academic and professional staff play a key role in designing and delivering effective and inclusive WIL. It is essential that staff not only understand what is needed, but are given the resources required as well as policy and other leadership support. Support may involve systems to manage relationships and streamline processes that are common across one institution, or multiple institutions. Effective and efficient systems will allow more time for staff to explore options for placements in non-traditional settings e.g. community-based organisations or to develop different types of activities that may be more responsive to student needs. Training may also be necessary  to raise awareness and manage risks in this area.  In addition to placement related concerns, additional resources and education around changes to curriculum, teaching and assessment practices may also be required.


      4.    Provide support for partner organisations to implement inclusive principles and guidelines

 This guideline highlights the importance of working collaboratively with partner organisations at all levels, and across a range of different areas, to help build inclusive WIL capacity.  Clarity around expectations, roles and responsibilities in relation to inclusive WIL should be made clear to partners at both the organisational and individual workplace supervisor level. Universities can assist where necessary by providing practical support including advice (e.g. guidelines) on how partners can offer WIL opportunities to diverse students as well as professional development and advice on how to deal with specific issues.


      5.    Incorporate inclusive curriculum design and teaching practices

Curriculum design and teaching practices must enable students to fully participate and access opportunities for success. WILcan provide students with access to environments and opportunities otherwise not readily accessible.  Through well designed WIL curriculum students can extend their personal social and cultural capital by leveraging the capital of the university and the workplace.  However, simply gaining access will not necessarily result in success for students.  Inclusive WIL curriculum should:

  • be integrated into the curriculum rather than a  “bolt on” approach;
  • be scaffolded across the student lifecycle to build student capacity to fully participate;
  • provide support for students in choosing (where WIL is optional) to participate in a WIL experience;
  • support students in field based settings to understand expectations and to negotiate suitable learning experiences;
  • connect students, employers and university staff (especially equity and student/academic support staff) in sharing challenges and experiences to aim for continual improvement;
  • support the development of student self-efficacy through structured goal setting and mentoring; before, during and after a WIL experience;
  • account for diversity of student backgrounds and experiences, supporting students to better understand the workplace culture of their professional setting;
  • ensure that  inherent requirements are understood by, and communicated to, all partners;
  • ensure there are no barriers for students in the design of assessment and provide suitable alternatives where possible;
  • utilise Universal Design principles.


        6.    Form collaborative relationships and partnerships

Collaborative relationships and partnerships are essential for ensuring a supportive learning environment for students and a quality WIL experience. Linked up relationships within the university enable a cohesive and connected experience and provide a continuum of support for students.  External relationships and partnerships with clear communication channels are pivotal to ensuring the supportive and inclusive learning environment extends to the practice-based setting.

Building resilient relationships and partnerships requires investment in staff professional learning on engagement strategies; resourcing for appropriate staff to focus on building and sustaining internal and external relationships; and developing user-friendly resources to support partners in WIL. It is essential to instil a culture of collaboration, consultation and co-operation.


      7.    Cultivate an institutional culture that promotes inclusive WIL

Principles of inclusive WIL must be valued by institutional leaders if they are to be translated into successful and sustainable practices. Leadership support can aid inclusive WIL through the provision of:

  • sponsorship within the executive team;
  • appropriate policies and procedures;
  • adequate resourcing; and
  • appropriate organisational structures and services.


Institutional commitment to inclusive WIL might also involve finance for relevant research plus reward and recognition of good practice.  These types of strategies can foster an inclusive WIL culture within an institution, with “champions” at all levels, to help embed inclusive WIL principles.


      8.    Ensure adequate resources are available  

Inclusive WIL requires sufficient institutional resourcing, which for some universities may involve an increase in current practices and decisions around resource allocation. Adequate resourcing for inclusive WIL often centres on the provision of sufficient staff and staff time to develop quality and satisfying WIL experiences for students, university staff and partners.


       9.    Manage expectations

Managing expectations of both students and partners involves both parties having a realistic understanding about the purpose of WIL as well as respective roles and responsibilities.  In terms of inclusive WIL, managing expectations requires clear, explicit and accessible information be provided to students which is then delivered at multiple “touch points” (i.e., university website; university handbook; course/unit outlines; student services; staff etc). The management of student expectations is an important component of preparing students for WIL.  Managing partner expectations might include informing partners about the university’s commitment to inclusive WIL. It also involves ensuring clear and explicit communication between university staff and partners about the diverse range of students they might host (e.g. from different backgrounds; varying abilities and skills; levels of maturity or self-confidence).


       10.    Undertake ongoing review and evaluation

Continuous review of policy, practices, design and delivery of programs from an inclusive WIL perspective is needed to ensure alignment of intent and processes. This should involve both quality assurance processes that measure and evaluate performance in relation to provision of inclusive WIL, as well as encouraging quality enhancement and risk management. Time to reflect on the success of current systems and procedures by all staff involved will assist in developing a pro-active approach, whilst still allowing for tailored solutions where necessary. Opportunities for exchange of information both within, and across institutions should be encouraged as a way of improving current approaches.  Review and evaluation should also consider and involve partners in reviewing their own operations.


      11.    Develop sustainable approaches and practices

Sustainable approaches to inclusive WIL will involve time and cost efficiencies for the institution, university staff and partners, while also ensuring inclusive experiences for students. Care must be taken to put into place approaches and strategies that are viable and can be scaled up to meet future needs. As student numbers increase, it will be necessary to review current practices to ensure feasibility going forward.

Sustainable approaches to inclusive WIL might include the provision of procedures for both university and partners to assist organisations to respond to the needs of students. The use of expert advice from within institutions and from external partners, may also help inform the design and delivery of realistic and effective practices.