Work Integrated Learning, particularly place-based placements, are being strongly affected by COVID-19 as organisations reduce operations and due to physical distancing required. Many universities are withdrawing students from face to face experiences and are rapidly converting as many as possible to online experiences. This has created a complex and rapidly evolving and challenging environment for WIL across Australia.

 ACEN has taken the following actions:

  • Implemented a national survey on March 19 about the issues, challenges and strategies that members have experienced due to COVID-19
  • Conducted a webinar on March 24 to report back the survey results and collected current strategies in place, find the recording here
  • Conduct regular surveys to feel the pulse of the ACEN community in COVID-19 times
  • Set up a dedicated COVID-19 webpage on ACEN website
  • Created weekly coffee chats – how are you going – to build a supportive community, share experiences and learn from and with each other
  • Set up weekly webinars to discuss cutting edge hot topics with experienced WIL practitioners
  • Contribute to consultative meeting requests by the Australian Government Department of Education, Skills and Employment
  • Liaison with partners of the National WIL Strategy to identify joint strategies
  • Give voice to ACEN issues on national accreditation bodies’ national platforms
  • Collaborate with the rest of the WIL World, particularly collaborating with NZ and Canadian National Associations in sharing resources and strategies going forward
  • Send breaking news communications to the ACEN membership
  • Encourage members to contribute on ACEN LinkedIn page, twitter #ACENau, in their ACEN chapters to share strategies and discuss issues

Immediate Key Challenges

As the Government is making new restriction announcements rapidly the following are the issues of March 25:

  • Impact of placement cancellation on student progression, meeting accreditation requirements (for regulated professions), graduation
  • Moving placements to the online/remote environment
  • Sourcing resources that are fit for this novel COVID-19 condition
  • Risk management, safety and clarity around Insurance for students doing unpaid placements as work from home
  • Need to negotiate flexible approaches (especially around assessment of practical work) and not breech accreditation requirements
  • Supporting students who are scheduled to graduate mid-year
  • Potential impacts on international students’ visas
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