Research Grants

2023 Research Grants

In 2023 ACEN is offering funding for two Work Integrated Learning (WIL) research grants up to $10,000 each and two grants of $5,000 for Emergent and/or Early Career Researchers.*

*To be eligible for an Emergent/Early Career Researcher grant the project must be led by an Emerging or Early Career Researcher. This is a researcher who is at an early stage of their academic career. Researchers may be eligible to apply if they are working towards or have been awarded a PhD within 5 years. Applicants must also nominate a senior mentor. The grants are open to both academic and professional staff.


 Applications are invited to advance theory and evidence-based practice of WIL in the following themes (applications should be aligned with the ACEN strategic plan):

  • Artificial Intelligence and WIL: ACEN is interested in studies that explore the possibilities and challenges of AI for WIL design and assessment, the impact it may have on stakeholders (including academic and professional staff) and how we can use AI to help prepare students for future work.
  • Valuing diversity and inclusion in WIL: This theme could encompass studies that build agency, improve experiences and foster positive outcomes among diverse student groups. Diversity is considered in its broadest sense and may include, as examples, neurodiverse students, postgraduates, Higher Degree by Research students.
  • Indigeneity and WIL: ACEN welcomes research that seeks to engage First Nations students, staff and communities in WIL.

Scheme Objectives

ACEN will prioritise studies that: are underpinned by theory and evidence advance knowledge and expertise in WIL produce theoretically informed; tangible outputs of practical use to its membership; and clearly link to its Strategic Plan 2023-2025.

The grants are intended to:

  • build the capacity of ACEN members including early career researchers and higher degree research students to undertake research into WIL
  • promote and support scholarship in WIL
  • develop effective mechanisms for identifying, developing, disseminating and embedding research-based practice in WIL programs
  • leverage opportunities for collaboration in WIL research and the sharing of WIL resources.

Funding and Reporting Requirements

These research grants are valued at a maximum of $10,000 plus GST for each full Research Grant and $5,000 plus GST for Emergent/Early Career Researcher grants. The projects should be completed within a twelve-month period. Funding will be paid at the commencement of the project on provision of an invoice from the institution. Any unspent funds must be returned to ACEN at the end of the project.

At the conclusion of the project successful applicants will be required to:

    1. Complete a project report which will be published to the ACEN website
    2. Present the results and outcomes of their funded research in an ACEN forum (e.g., ACEN Research Conversation, or ACEN Conference Presentation)
    3. Submit a statutory declaration detailing how funds were spent. 


  • The grants are available to professional or academic staff of institutions with ACEN Full Institutional Membership.
  • The grants are not available to members of the ACEN Board.
  • Applications that include industry or community organization partners are encouraged.

Application Requirements

The application must be provided as a Word document and not exceed five pages (excluding references) and may be addressed to the ‘ACEN Research Chair’. Please refer to the below points for any specific word count requirements.

Applications that exceed this overall length will not be considered. Although the reference list is in addition to the five pages, it must be part of the same Word file as the grant application (i.e. it is the 6th page).

Areas that must be addressed in the application are:

  1. Whether you are applying for a full Research Grant of $10,000 or an Emergent/Early Career Researcher Grant of $5,000
  2. Title of Project
  3. Identification of the relevant theme/s to the project (see above) 
  4. Brief description of project for communication to WIL Community (around 50 words)
  5. Project Lead/s contact details and short relevant bio (100 words max). Note applications for Emerging/Early Career Research grants must be led by an Emerging/Early Career Researcher and nominate a senior mentor who will provide guidance on the project.
  6. Names of other people, institutions and organisations (if applicable) involved in the project
  7. How the project is consistent with vision, mission and aims of ACEN (100 words) and how it will build on existing research and scholarship in work integrated learning, including previous ACEN projects (at least two) (recommended minimum 300 words)
  8. Aims of the project (100 words)
  9. Expected Outcomes and/or outputs
  10. Research methodology with clear rationale for chosen approach (recommended minimum 300 words). Delays to projects due to COVID-19 will not be permitted so please ensure the research design allows for contingency planning in the event that physical distancing remains in place.
  11. Impact and educational value of the project and significance to higher education (for example: expected impact on stakeholders, future practice and policy). Project outcomes must be transferrable to other contexts, e.g. institutions, disciplines.
  12. Dissemination plan
  13. Overview of project phases and timeline
  14. Project budget
  15. If projects involve creating a website, the project must make clear how the website is to be maintained for up to five years.

Examples of allowable budget expenses include personnel plus on-costs (clerical support, student assistance, etc.), postage, printing, photocopying, travel for conference presentation, telephone and fax costs, and office supplies. Items must be directly related to achieving the research project. 

Examples of non-allowable budget expenses include salary for the applicant, indirect institutional expenses, institutional overheads, permanent equipment and capital purchases.

letter of endorsement from the first named project lead’s line manager must accompany the application. This endorsement indicates support for the project and a willingness to provide time for the project to be undertaken. The letter of endorsement should be attached to the same email as the application, however it can be a separate file from the grant application.

It is the responsibility of the Project Lead to:

  • arrange ethics approval
  • involve other ACEN members in the process, especially early career researchers, where possible
  • meet negotiated timelines and ACEN reporting requirements and deadlines
  • present on findings at an ACEN event including webinars
  • leverage dissemination opportunities to share good practice including a refereed publication
  • ensure that any resources developed through the project are designed with a view that these are made available for use by the ACEN community and where appropriate a Creative Commons License such as Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 Internationalis applied to these resources
  • any publications and resources developed through the project should acknowledge the contribution of ACEN to the project
  • provide details of the refereed publication (when available) to ACEN National Board for dissemination.

Selection Process

The project proposals will be assessed using the following criteria:

  • significance to one or more of the research grant themes
  • quality of the design
  • potential impact and transferability of project outcomes
  • capacity of the project to deliver proposed outcomes
  • involvement of early career researchers (this will be viewed favourably for projects applying for full research grants)

Key Dates

Applications Open: 6 March 2023

Applications Close: 5:00pm AEST 12 May 2023

Successful Applicants Notified: 17 July 2023


2022 Research Grants

Emergent/Early Career Researcher Grants $5,000

Preparing allied health, nursing, and education students for WIL experiences in the disability sector

Project Lead: Dr Emily Jackson, Curtin University

This project has two aims: (1) to disseminate an NDIS training package to allied health, nursing, and education students in 20+ Australian universities; and (2) to evaluate the effectiveness of this NDIS training package in preparing these students to undertake workplace-based WIL experiences (e.g. fieldwork) where they require an understanding of the NDIS.

Themes: Fostering Partnerships in WIL, Interdisciplinary and transdisciplinary learning in WIL.

Allied Health Students Work Integrated Learning (WIL) during Rural Clinical Placement

Project Lead: Romany Martin, University of Tasmania

The Allied Health Rural WIL (AHRWIL) project will triangulate student, clinical educator, and university WIL manager perspectives, and explore the sector wide support needs of rural WIL. The pursuit of wellbeing amongst WIL stakeholders is vital as positive experiences of rural WIL are known to increase intentions for rural practice.

Themes: Fostering Partnerships in WIL, Wellbeing and support during WIL

Full Research Grants $10,000

Addressing the impact of financial literacy on financial stress, wellbeing & participation in unpaid WIL

Project Lead: Deanna Grant-Smith, QUT

Although the pedagogic benefits of WIL are well-documented, recent research shows some students experience significant financial hardship as a result of its unpaid and intensive nature. Financial hardship is a known cause of stress, anxiety, and attrition among student cohorts, which can impact on student wellbeing and lead to inequitable learning outcomes. Low levels of financial literacy can exacerbate financial stress, compounding the barriers to successful WIL placements for these students. This research will contribute to understandings of WIL wellbeing by exploring the relationship between financial literacy, financial stress, student wellbeing and practicum performance. It will explore specific outcomes of financial stress and investigate the role that financial literacy education may play in assisting students to manage and mitigate the financial stress associated with unpaid WIL placements.

Themes: Wellbeing and support during WIL, Equitable and inclusive WIL experiences

Rapport between supervisors from different professions: Tapping into unrealised potential for developing students’ collaborative practice through work integrated learning.

Project Lead: Dr Susan Heaney, University of Newcastle

The importance of supervisors’ role-modelling their interprofessional rapport for the development of students’ collaborative practice in healthcare is often overlooked in work integrated learning (WIL). Through online, innovative workshops with a focus on interdisciplinary reflexivity, this project aims to tap into the unrealised potential of explicitly role-modelling rapport to support quality supervision of WIL.

Themes: Quality supervision and preparing stakeholders for WIL, Equitable and inclusive WIL experiences, Interdisciplinary and transdisciplinary learning in WIL

2021 Research Grants

Emergent/Early Career Researcher Grants $5,000

The Impact of Structured Interprofessional Education (IPE) Clinical Placements on Student Interprofessional Collaborative

Sonya Mattiazzi, University of Queensland

Despite ever-increasing interest in interprofessional education, our work shows there is a considerable knowledge gap on how clinical placements impact on the development of interprofessional collaborative practice functioning behaviour in health professional students (Mattiazzi, Cottrell, Ng, & Beckman, 2021). This project aims to address this gap by investigating the development of these behaviours in specific interprofessional placements when compared to more traditional placements where there is a focus on a single profession.

Themes: Impact of WIL

Final Report

Experience of Students with disabilities engaging in WIL placements

Timothy Boye, University of Technology Sydney

Universities put significant resources into supporting students with disabilities on campus. However, off-campus in work-integrated learning (WIL) employers are expected to take responsibility for students on a day-to-day basis. This project seeks to understand and communicate the experience of students with disabilities on WIL placement in order to better support them in future.

Themes: Inclusive practice, equity and access in WIL

Final Report

Full Research Grants $10,000

Equitable WIL: Building host organisation capacity to ensure safe and inclusive WIL programs for students with a disability.

Tanya Lawlis, University of Canberra

This project will improve the accessibility and participation of students with a disability engaging in WIL. Framed around three concepts: aware, prepared and inclusive, the developed framework with resources will facilitate host organisation engagement, capacity and confidence to provide safe, relevant and appropriate WIL opportunities that meet relevant legislation and university requirements and, improve student engagement.

Themes: Inclusive practice, equity and access in WIL

Final Report

Avoiding Transactional Placements: Tips, training, and guidance from the lived experience of Indigenous organisations and community groups.

Wayne Read, Deakin University

The project collaborates with Indigenous organisations (businesses and community groups) to understand the current experiences with WIL, including the benefits and consequences of engaging with WIL programs in the past and in the future. Through a collaborative research technique, the project will develop guides for practitioners on establishing sustainable, respectful Indigenous WIL partnerships, and training material for preparing students ahead of placements within Indigenous businesses and groups.

Themes: Indigenous engagement with WIL

2020 Research Grants

Emergent/Early Career Researcher Grants $5,000

Developing an innovative and accessible WIL taxonomy to support psychology undergraduate students

Annabelle Neall, University of Queensland

Australian psychology students are the sole allied-health group ineligible for practitioner registration following conferral of their undergraduate degree. This project aims to construct and validate a taxonomy of work integrated learning activities and initiatives, to enhance the skillset and abilities of psychology undergraduates and endorse their transition to an increasingly diverse workforce.

Themes: Sustainable, scalable and innovative WIL models, Designing and implementing quality in WIL

Read More

Private practice Work Integrated Learning (WIL) opportunities for health professional students: Increasing capacity for educational quality and equity

Roma Forbes, University of Queensland

The WIL in Private Practice (WILPP) project uses a three-part mixed methods approach to investigate, explore and articulate strategies which are currently used to successfully integrate student health professional WIL into private practice service delivery. This project scaffolds on previous industry partnered ACEN projects to create a sector-wide resource to enhance WIL capacity through providing practical solutions to student service delivery for new and existing WIL providers.

Themes: Designing and implementing quality in WIL, Equity of access to WIL

Final Report

Full Research Grants $10,000

Facilitating student engagement with WIL: A risk management framework for studentships

Anne Hewitt, University of Adelaide

Craig Cameron, Griffith University

Around the world WIL was embraced as a strategy to facilitate student transition to employment in the difficult economic circumstances flowing from the GFC. We can expect that to be replicated in the current economic turmoil caused by COVID-19. The provision of stakeholder scholarships, bursaries, grants and stipends (collectively ‘studentships’) is an important strategy to support students’ financial capacity to complete WIL. However, studentships are not without risk. This project will develop an institutional risk management framework that may guide the evaluation and design of studentships in collaboration with studentship providers (institutions, government and industry).

Themes: Sustainable, scalable and innovative WIL models

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Interprofessional telehealth services: An innovative WIL model for accredited health programs during COVID 19 and beyond

Rachel Bacon, University of Canberra

This project provides strategic leadership to the ACEN community and other stakeholders to optimise telehealth’s role in Interprofessional Education (IPE) and WIL. Under the leadership of an expert panel, research within a university health clinic will explore the strengths and challenges, learning experiences and learning outcomes offered by telehealth. This will inform guidelines and a suite of practical resources.

Themes: Sustainable, scalable and innovative WIL models, WIL within digital and virtual learning environments, Building learner agency and professional identity through WIL

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