Higher education research

Publication Date



STEM education, Science education, Mathematics education, Engineering education, Technology education, Natural sciences, Physical sciences, Information and communications technology, Agricultural education, Work based learning, University teaching, Surveys, Higher education, Interviews


The Australian Council for Educational Research (ACER) undertook this study for the Office of the Chief Scientist (OCS). It explores the practice and application of Work Integrated Learning (WIL) in STEM, with a particular focus on natural and physical sciences, information technology, and agriculture departments in Australian universities. The project involved a detailed ‘stocktake’ of WIL in practice in these disciplines, with collection of information by interview, survey instruments, consultation with stakeholders and literature reviews. Every university in Australia was visited as part of this project, with interviews and consultation sessions gathering insight from more than 120 academics and support staff. This study contributes new knowledge relating to WIL in Australia especially in the STEM disciplines. It is hoped that the results of this work will offer a foundation for enhancing collaboration between education institutions and industry in preparing university students for the wider workforce.

This document offers detailed insight into the context, approach and findings of this project. This first chapter provides a background to the work. In the second chapter the approach and methodology applied during the project are discussed, followed in chapter 3 by reviews of the WIL literature for further insight and background. The main findings of the project are then presented in the chapters 4-8. These cover:

• Context, definitions and types of WIL activities;

• WIL activities and student participation;

• Engagement of industry in WIL;

• Administration and funding of WIL; and

• Impediments to expanding WIL.

In chapter 9 a range of case studies is presented which help to highlight innovative practice and interesting approaches to WIL. The conclusion of the report highlights the key elements of ‘Good WIL’ identified through this project, re-explores some important issues that need to be addressed for expansion to be sustainable, and offers some suggestions to encourage further development of WIL activities in STEM.

Place of Publication

Melbourne Vic


Australian Council for Educational Research (ACER)