UNSW Global Business Practicum (GBP) international immersion and project-based industry experience.

UNSW Global Business Practicum (GBP) – international immersion and project-based industry experience

Students working with companies in the Indo-Pacific region tackling current business issues.

Emily Wana

Emily Wana

University of New South Wales

Discipline

Business 

Model/s of WIL activity

Industry/community-based placement, Case studies, Industry/community based projects, Research activities, Site visits, Study tours, Technology

Description of WIL activity

GBP is a for-credit course, project-based practicum, aiming to equip business students with relevant insights into the international business community in the Indo-Pacific region. Students complete at least 80 hours of work in-company tackling genuine business issues. Upon completion, students present and submit their findings. They are provided with training, cultural exposure and networking opportunities in the host location. GBP’s commitment in ensuring that students are work-ready is demonstrated through the accelerated digitalisation process when travelling is restricted. This also helps in building digital literacy and developing adaptive graduates. GBP directly engages industries to develop a bespoke WIL experience.

How long has it been operating?

GBP was piloted in Indonesia and Hong Kong in 2014. It was established in response to the growing need to close the skills gap. It now operates in India, Israel and Thailand, too, for the undergraduate students, and supported by the New Colombo Plan. The locations are based on student demand and faculty priorities. GBP has grown from 21 students in 2014 to approximately 600 students. It has been delivered close to 30 times since its inception. The positive reception by both students and companies allowed GBP to expand to the postgraduate cohort in 2019 operating WIL in Vietnam.

 How does the WIL activity demonstrate good practice and/or innovation?

GBP adopts a holistic approach in its delivery of international WIL to ensure reciprocal benefits to its stakeholders. It taps into our existing partnerships with alumni, overseas institutions and the business community in Australia and abroad. It focuses on strategic business hubs, a mix of established and emerging economies, that are of importance to Australia and UNSW (e.g. Northeast Asia, South Asia, and Southeast Asia/ASEAN). The strength of GBP lies in its combination of workplace experience and international exposure. GBP has been operating since it was first piloted in 2014 and has demonstrated growth and sustainability, which resulted in an increase in the placement locations over time. Students reported increased self-development and awareness through living and working in international and diverse settings. They also expressed feedback on increased professional skills and knowledge. Companies conveyed positive experience in mentoring our students and receiving tangible results from the students’ research. In addition, GBP has transformed itself in response to current changes, including the move to trimester (UNSW3+) and travel restrictions. Two notable changes are (i) the increased mentor-mentee interaction from three to six weeks by incorporating online mentorship, and (ii) the adoption of remote internship when travelling is restricted. To manage costs, we work with our partner institutions, who provide discounted rates for social and cultural activities and in-country lectures. Our partner industries also often provide discounted accommodation rates and networking sessions.

Who benefits from the WIL activity and how?

GBP allows students and partners (private and higher education sectors) to benefit from the course. Students gain workplace experience and are exposed to local business culture and the international business community. It also helps them to develop soft skills. Companies can access students from multiple business disciplines and backgrounds to research on issues relevant to them. It provides companies with opportunities to gain fresh perspectives. It also fosters leadership skills in their current employees. GBP strengthens institutional links between UNSW and our overseas partner institutions through collaboration in the planning of the in-country activities.

How does the activity embed successful evaluation processes?

GBP’s evaluation process is two-fold, the first is conducted immediately after the placement (i.e. a feedback form sent to students and companies) and the second is a university-wide survey focusing on students’ learning and teaching experience. Feedback from companies is equally important to improve the delivery of the course and to assist UNSW staff to strengthen engagement with industry partners. Comments are collated and areas that require improvement are identified, which are then considered when planning the next placement. Our evaluation process functions as a continuous loop allowing GBP to remedy the gaps identified. 

What are the broader/longer term impacts for stakeholders?

As the labour market becomes more globalised and intertwined, the impact of GBP on student employability and work-readiness will become increasingly significant. The swift move toward digitalisation further magnified our global connectedness. GBP’s commitment in supporting students through WIL gives students the opportunity to hone their professional identity, digital literacy, and international competencies. Companies benefit from labour pools of graduates who are adaptive to changing workplace conditions in the future of work. Companies play a key role in shaping these talents to narrow existing skills gap. GBP also contributes to strengthening Australia’s and UNSW’s people-to-people and institutional links.

How is the WIL activity integrated into curricula?

Prior to their placement, students complete a 4-week training/workshops on global teams, design thinking, presentation skills and other soft skills in Sydney and a 2-day orientation in the host location which include cultural activities, language class, seminars on the local business culture and networking sessions. GBP also provides pre-departure sessions and debriefs on return. Throughout the activity, students are guided by a UNSW academic and industry mentors. The academic and mentors conduct regular supervision and on-going review. The students are also required to provide peer-to-peer feedback. At the end of the placement, students and mentors complete an evaluation form. 

How is it informed by relevant theoretical or empirical literature, research and/or scholarship?

The internationalisation of the labour market continues with rapid globalisation (Kuptsch and Martin, 2010). Hence, it is imperative that graduates are equipped with international competencies to be relevant in the job market. GBP focuses in ensuring that our graduates are work-ready through international WIL in strategic business hubs. GBP considers the growing Asian markets as our locations as they are employment-creating areas (AACFT, 2012). This relevance is supported in a recent survey by IEAA outlining that 75% of their respondents who participated in a work-related program stated that their international experience had a positive impact on obtaining their first job (Potts, 2020, p.7).

What are the plans for the WIL activity in the future?

GBP continues to be in high demand as it combines workplace experience and international exposure. GBP’s growth will be implemented in stages e.g. incorporating 1-2 new locations annually that are of strategic economic importance to Australia and student employability. The selection of locations would be guided by students’ preferences, current research on WIL, and our networks with overseas institutions and industry partners. GBP will continue to be flexible in responding to rapid changes affecting the education and business sectors as demonstrated by our swift transition to online platforms to facilitate remote internships when travel and safety issues occur.

References

Australia in the Asian Century Task Force (AACTF) (2012), Australia in the Asian century: White Paper. Canberra: Australia in the Asian Century Task Force. Retrieved from http://asiancentury.dpmc.gov.au. (accessed 5 June 2020).

Kuptsch, C. & Martin, P.L. (2010). ‘Actors and factors in the internationalization of labour markets’, in Kuptsch, C. (ed.) The internationalization of labour markets, pp. 115-134.

Potts, D. (2020), Career outcomes of learning abroad: national report, International Education Association of Australia (IEAA). Retrieved from www.ieaa.org.au. (accessed 5 June 2020).