How should we spend NPILF funds to improve Work Integrated Learning in generalist Science degrees

A joint discussion paper from Australian Council of Deans of Science (ACDS) and Australian Collaborative Education Network (ACEN)

The Australian Government’s Job-ready Graduates package highlights the importance of Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics for the future of Australia. The package provides $900 million to support the National Priorities and Industry Linkage Fund (NPILF); it also redefines the role of universities in society by adding ‘(iv) the engagement with industry and the local community to enable graduates to thrive in the workforce;’ as a distinctive purpose of universities.

The NPILF is designed to support the creation of ‘job-ready’ graduates through university-industry engagement, and the current proposal is that universities will be block funded from the NPILF program. There will be many proposals around how universities can use the NPILF to support their engagement with industry engagement. How do we decide which plan is most likely to benefit Science students and graduates? How should universities spend the money so it builds on and adds value to work that is already done? What information do we have to help us craft the best possible ‘job-ready’ development programs for Science students?

In this discussion paper, ACEN and ACDS present a review of the literature on university-industry partnerships and Science Work Integrated Learning (WIL). Our goal is to enrich the national discussion on these topics and assist universities in their decision-making around NPILF expenditure.

We focus on three areas:
(i) the employability of Science graduates;
(ii) what we already know about establishing sustained, effective and mutually beneficial Work Integrated Learning (WIL) partnerships between university Science programs and industry; and
(iii) how the NPILF could support an improvement in provision of WIL and work preparation for students in Science.

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