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Enacting the ‘Pracademic’: Uncovering established WIL practices to inform its future in higher education

Friday 5 July: Conference day three, 11:00am – 11:30am parallel session



Room 2 – 303-G14, Sem



Dr Oriana Milani Price
University of Wollongong, Australia

Dr Lynnaire Sheridan
University of Wollongong, Australia

Renee Cunial
University of Wollongong, Australia

Roz Pocius
University of Wollongong, Australia

Taryn O’Donnell
University of Wollongong, Australia



The 2017 Federal Government’s Higher Education Reform package requires Work Integrated Learning (WIL) to be embedded into degrees as “…providing work-integrated learning opportunities for students has significant benefits for the job readiness of graduates” (p.26). The new WIL-based funding model “…will remove the disincentive that currently exists for institutions to offer degrees that include such work experience components” (Australian Government, 2017 p.12)­­­—universities now have a financial imperative to implement WIL.

As it is resource intensive, WIL has traditionally been enacted within industry-accredited degrees (i.e. nursing, teaching), or championed in various ways to achieve a specific learning objective or even for the marketability of degrees (ACEN 2014; Patrick, Peach, & Pocknee, 2009). As a result of the prioritisation of WIL, higher education (HE) institutions will need to expand WIL into every students’ learning experience.

While the benefits of WIL for student work-readiness are known (Edwards, et al., 2015) investigations into the educators who facilitate WIL is limited (Emslie, 2011; Clark, 2016; Whelan, 2017). Our research draws on Schatzki’s (2003) ‘site’ ontology and Kemmis’ (2014) practice architectures to investigate the practices of established WIL facilitators (who we named Pracademics) in an Australian university. We found that existing WIL practices emerge, and are embedded, constrained or enabled by professional, historical and policy architectures. 

Are academics equipped to integrate and deliver WIL across curriculum areas? Beyond the expertise of those teaching in WIL integrated industry-accredited degrees, what are the capacities of academics in curriculum areas traditionally not engaged with WIL, to deliver and integrate WIL? What insights may be drawn from the practices of ‘pracademics’ and HE institutions engaged in WIL, to inform future academic and organisational policies and practices in the changing HE context?

This roundtable responds to the ‘WIL challenge’ by eliciting insights into the development of the next generation of academics (pracademics) to achieve WIL outcomes in HE. We will debate the following questions:

  • Do the existing practices of academics in curriculum areas traditionally not engaged with WIL support the enactment of WIL across degrees?
  • Do existing HE institutional policies, practices and development initiatives support academics involved in WIL?

By drawing on insights from the perspectives of a variety of academics from across institutions, we seek to capture:

  • what might the practices of new generation ‘pracademics’ (those who will engaged in WIL) look like;
  • what organisational policies, practices and development initiatives may be needed.


Intended outcome

A productive debate drawing on insights of academics from across institutions, to inform broader changes to academic and organisational practices to more widely enable WIL in HE.



Australian Collaborative Education Network (ACEN). (2014). National WIL Strategy. Retrieved from
Australian Government (2017). The Higher Education Reform package, Australian Government: Canberra.
Edwards, D., Perkins, K., Pearce, J., & Hong, J. (2015). Work Integrated Learning in STEM in Australian Universities: Final Report. Office of the Chief Scientist. ACER.
Emslie, M., (2011). Where’s WIL? Including work integrated learning in descriptions of what it is that academics do. Journal of Cooperative Education and Internships, 45(1), pp.34-44.
Kemmis, S., Wilkinson, J. Edwards-Groves, C. Hardy, I., Grootenboer, P. and Bristol, L. (2014). Changing Practices, Changing education. Singapore: Springer.
Patrick, C. Peach, D. & Pocknee, C. (2009). The WIL (Work Integrated Learning) report: A national scoping study, Australian Teaching and Learning Council
Schatzki, T. (2003). A new societiest social ontology. Philosophy of the Social Sciences, 33(2), 174 – 202.


Presentation topic

Academics – Changing Academic Practice

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