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What is Work Integrated Learning?

by Melanie Peterson

Many universities and tertiary education providers around the world are offering a new educational program known as Work Integrated Learning or WIL. In short, the term describes any activities that combine real industry experience with higher education.

You may have heard about Work Integrated Learning if you’re a student seeking higher education, an employer, or an educational provider. Universities are now offering WIL opportunities across nearly all programs and disciplines, including business, science, journalism, and engineering.

This article will discuss Work Integrated Learning in great detail, helping students, employers, and educational providers decide if they’d like to get involved with this new experience.

What types of WIL programs are available?

Depending on your course or degree, different types of WIL programs will be available to you. An engineering student, for example, may assist with a building project, while an art student may be involved in planning and arranging an exhibition.

Some common WIL opportunities include:

  • Clinical placements
  • Field education
  • Cooperative education
  • Vocational practices
  • Internships
  • Online activities
  • Overseas projects
  • Professional practices
  • Industry simulations

Educational providers will offer WIL simulations where real-world experience isn’t possible. For example, law students may participate in a simulated court case when participating in a real court case isn’t feasible.

Why should I enrol in a WIL program?

If you’re a student looking to gain experience in the working world, expand your knowledge, and meet industry experts, enrolling in a WIL program will help you achieve this goal.

Work Integrated Learning programs offer an enormous range of benefits for students, including:

  • Access to advice and guidance from industry role models
  • A boost to your resume
  • The opportunity to develop professional skills, such as teamwork, problem-solving, and navigating interpersonal working relationships
  • Exposure to work culture
  • Industry connections
  • Career development opportunities

If you’re unsure about whether you’re on the right path, a WIL program can help you make an informed decision about your future career.

What’s involved in WIL?

The activities you undertake throughout your WIL program will depend on your industry. Generally, you’ll have the opportunity to learn and develop work-appropriate, soft skills such as:

  • Professional writing and communication
  • Building workplace relationships
  • Preparing for business meetings

In some programs, you will also undertake more technical tasks relevant to your course or degree, such as client work or project planning.

How do I apply for a WIL program?

The exact process for applying for a WIL project will depend on your course and educational institution. Generally, you’ll need to:

  • Register for the program
  • Enrol in the relevant course, as guided by your educational institution
  • Complete the approval form

If you’re unsure, you can contact your institution’s student support staff for detailed, tailored advice about how to apply for WIL programs.


Work Integrated Learning is an effective and innovative way for students to gain real-world industry experience and prepare for their future career. 

Students can develop vital soft and technical skills across nearly all degrees and disciplines, gain unique industry knowledge, and build long-lasting industry connections during their WIL program.

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