National Strategy
We have been advised that the National Higher Education Work-Integrated Learning Strategy will be formally launched in February 2024. ACEN is looking forward to collaborating with the national partners (Universities Australia, Australian Industry Group, Australian Chamber of Commerce and Industry, and Business Council of Australia) on progressing the strategy over the coming years.
 
International students’ 48-hour Work Cap and WIL
Since 2019, ACEN has been liaising with the Department of Education and the Department of Home Affairs (DoHA) to seek clarification on the relationship of work-based WIL (placements, internships, practicum, professional practice) with the international students’ work cap (formally 40-hours per fortnight, now 48 hours per fortnight).
 
The current situation for international students is that the hours of work-based WIL that are not formally reported in a degree program’s CRICOS registration are counted towards their 48-hour work cap. For work-based WIL to be reported in CRICOS, it must be a mandatory component of the degree program, meaning it is entirely unavoidable (no choice between project and placement, for example). The core work-based WIL offering could be, for example, a core academic subject or a mandatory degree program requirement (e.g., Engineering).
 
DoHA and the Department of Education are aware of the higher education sector’s concerns with this diverse treatment of work-based WIL and the work cap, based on how WIL is structured in a degree program. Discussions have focused on:
a) the equivalence of elective and core work-based WIL (both requiring higher education providers to align offerings to Higher Education Standards Framework, TEQSA Guidance Note on WIL etc); and
b) the benefits of treating both elective and core work-based WIL in the same way with respect to the fortnightly work cap.
 
We have been advised that this matter, and any need for reform, will be considered as part of DoHA’s Migration Reform Taskforce.
 
While we have clarity on the situation, ACEN will continue to work on behalf of its members, and their international students, to separate both core and elective work-based WIL from the 48-hour work cap. Importantly, ACEN understands the purpose of and need for the fortnightly work cap but is advocating that it not be linked in any way to work-based WIL. We will provide an update on this matter when one becomes available.