WIL at an Institute of Higher Education

Case Studies





Model/s of WIL activity:

Industry/community based placement

Level activity is delivered:

Whole of institution

WIL at an Institute of Higher Education – ICHM Bachelor of Business (Hospitality Management)

ICHM students undertake 50% of their Bachelor of Business (Hospitality Management) via paid WIL placements.

ICHM Bachelor of Business (Hospitality Management) students undertake 18 months of their degree as organised WIL. Encompassing three placement periods totalling 1500 hours the WIL activity occurs in first, second and third years of the degree. This equates to students being required to complete 50% of their degree within an authentic industry placement. ICHM has developed partnerships across the globe with a diverse range of tourism/hospitality organisations which allow for 100% of students to enter a paid 6-month placement every year. Each student completes a recruitment process requiring them to ‘win’ the job with a host organisation, thereby becoming a contracted employee.

Length of time the WIL activity has been/was in operation

ICHM was founded in 1992 as a joint initiative between the State Government of South Australia, the Swiss Hotel Association and the Lipman family. WIL has been integrated into the program since its inception as part of the VET sector and 8 years as part of the Higher Education sector. WIL placements have always been paid due to the strong relationships created with hospitality and tourism industry partners across the globe. Through the use of Industry and Career Development Managers recruitment of ICHM students is managed in partnership with industry needs and skill shortages.

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

ICHM demonstrates innovation by being one of the only HE institutions in Australia to offer 50% of its degree as paid WIL for 100% of students enrolled. Students become employees of their host organisation and often progress to graduate careers within a WIL host organisation.

ICHM’s unique industry partner as employer model engages 139 domestic and 49 international industry partners across the tourism and hospitality industry. Given the 18-month scaffolded approach to WIL across the three-year degree, students can engage with three employers across a range of brands and roles which allow students to move from work-ready with industry entry level skills to career-ready with a devised plan for career progression with their chosen employer. Research shows 96.3% of ICHM students progress to employment after qualification (QILT 2021 Graduate Outcome Survey).

WIL students must undergo 1500 hours of WIL placement prior to graduation across a minimum of two industry specific departments. This provides ICHM graduates with a broad industry understanding outside of their individual area of interest. With employability skills development embedded throughout the theoretical curriculum base, students enter their placement ready to meet industry expectations.

ICHM, though innovative in Australia, has similarity to the Canadian Co-operative Education and Work-Integrated Learning Canada (CEWIL Canada) models with both working to provide paid placements for students through strong industry relationships. The focus to embed WIL into the curriculum and course design are key features of both the ICHM and CEWIL approaches.

Who benefits from the WIL activity and how?

Several stakeholders benefit from ICHM’s WIL approach:

  • 139 domestic Industry Partners
  • 49 international industry partners
  • ICHM students (approx. 100 per semester) 100% in paid industry placements
  • 2500 active ICHM alumni taking advantage of ICHM networks, and giving back by hosting students across the globe
  • The Graduates in Industry International Advisory Committee (GIIAC) – All GIIAC members are graduates from ICHM. GIIAC members are selected based on their expertise in international hotel management, professional appointments, and their interest in the education of the future workforce. GIIAC members provide expertise which inform the ICHM curriculum and WIL direction.

How does the activity embed successful evaluation processes?

ICHM evaluates their WIL program in several ways which involve all key stakeholders noted below:

  • Annual industry survey to seek feedback on student knowledge and employability skills. This survey is also used to seek information on industry trends and evolving skill requirements to inform curriculum.
  • Industry consultation – in the design and development of WIL programs, assessment, and embedded curriculum
  • Student surveys
  • WIL Assessment development consultation industry sessions held yearly to inform future assessment and curriculum development
  • Academic WIL assessment validation and external benchmarking sessions
  • Moderation, subject review, and industry validation of assessment through Academic staff and industry consultation

What are the broader/longer term impacts for stakeholders? 

ICHM is so embedded within industry that the mutual benefits to all stakeholders are equitable and compelling:

  • Strong networks between student, institution, and industry
  • Substantially engaged industry partners in curriculum design and delivery for both student learning outcomes and industry gain
  • Industry informed program design and architecture development process to obtain ready now qualified graduates
  • Talent planning and acquisition mechanisms within host organisations to reduce industry skills shortages
  • Student career outcomes, learning and skill development to obtain the job of choice
  • Student self-efficacy within their chosen industry and job role.

How is the WIL activity integrated into curricula? Include how it incorporates the preparation, implementation, and reflection/debriefing phases of WIL.

WIL is embedded within all ICHM subjects throughout the Business degree. In study period 1 all students complete a 21-week Employability for Future Hoteliers subject which enables exploration of a personal brand, career interests and the development of a career plan for their continued studies at ICHM. The subject is delivered by ICHM’s Industry and Career Development (ICD) Managers who embed the placement recruitment journey within the subject’s weekly topics. The WIL program consists of a number of scaffolded elements underpinned by reflective practices throughout the three-year degree as noted in the ICHM Student Employability Development Model:

Describe how the case study is informed by relevant theoretical or empirical literature, research and/or scholarship.

The link between assessment and employability outcomes salient to industry needs is complex in its connection (Kinash, McGillivray, & Crane, 2018). The ICHM model works to reduce its complexity via their strong industry relationships and employment driven WIL program. HE institutions still operate largely within the traditional industrial paradigms from which they originated still relying on traditional teaching techniques, far from learner centred (Bridgstock, 2016). ICHM’s 50% WIL model embeds students within the current world of work allowing them to develop their career-readiness and self-efficacy by developing “capabilities and attributes required by graduates to successfully navigate a labour market characterised by rapid technological change and precarious employment practices” (Campbell & Price, 2016, p. 316)

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

The ICHM Hospitality based WIL is one offering with the ICHM Masters of International Hotel Management featuring action-based research within a 6-month paid placement environment.

Plans are in place to further expand ICHM’s WIL model into ICHM’s three new degree programs (Business, Marketing, Entrepreneurship) with paid placements within host organisations across broader business industries provided within the final trimester study period. Designed as a Capstone with employability curriculum embedded, the hope is to place students into their future graduate role to achieve 100% employability outcomes upon completion of the degree.

ICHM has developed an industry based Higher Education Certificate which will see students enrol with ICHM to complete a part time theoretical study load which includes practical on the job training whilst completing a part time paid placement with an industry host organisation.

Additional COVID impact information

COVID19 had a number of impacts on the students involved in the ICHM WIL Program. In the early stages of government lockdowns 85% of students were provided stand down orders by their host employers. The strain on ICHM’s student support and welfare system was immense with a number of academic management and lecturing staff stepping up to assist. ICHM has a practice of drawing students in close during times of difficulty, with border closures students were left isolated and ICHM’s ability to bring them home to Adelaide required government intervention. ICHM shifted their focus to South Australian regional host employers who were able to assist ICHM to continue to deliver 100% of students within a paid placement. The industry is now experiencing a dire shortage of trained workers and are reliant on the ICHM WIL program to fill a number of critical hospitality and hotel positions.


Bridgstock, R. (2016). The University and the Knowledge Network: A New Educational Model for Twenty-first Century Learning and Employability. In M. Tomlinson & L. Holmes (Eds.), Graduate Employability in Context : Theory, Research and Debate. London, UNITED KINGDOM: Palgrave Macmillan Limited.

Kinash, S., McGillivray, L., & Crane, L. (2018). Do university students, alumni, educators and employers link assessment and graduate employability? Higher Education Research & Development, 37(2), 301-315.

Campbell, I., & Price, R. (2016). Precarious work and precarious workers: Towards an improved conceptualisation. The Economic and Labour Relations Review, 27(3), 314-332.

Case Study Leaders

Associate Professor Denise Jackson (ECU)

Kellie Lumsden

Associate Professor Denise Jackson (ECU)

Annabelle Roelink