Who are WIL leaders?

WIL leaders (formally or informally) lead the implementation of work-integrated learning programs through teaching, hosting, or supporting WIL 1.9Patrick et al. (2014). Leading WIL: A distributed leadership approach to enhance work integrated learning: final report 2014.. Leaders may have formal responsibilities for WIL or may take on WIL leadership through personal interest or by default. This table shows the range of WIL roles seen in Faculties of Science. Specific titles and roles vary between institutions.

Formal WIL roles Formal roles with embedded WIL leadership Formal roles with WIL leadership by default Informal roles
  • Associate Dean, WIL*
  • WIL Manager
  • Industry relationship manager
  • Placement manager
  • Associate Dean Teaching and Learning
  • Associate Dean Industry Engagement
  • Subject co-ordinator for a WIL subject
  • WIL researcher
  • Convenor of WIL interest group leader
  • WIL teacher
  • WIL support

In 2015, the newly formed WIL in Science network asked Faculty representatives about their roles. About half of these WIL leaders had named responsibility for WIL with others taking on WIL leadership either by default or as part of another role.

Named leadership roles are an important step towards making WIL pervasive. They:

  • make strategic intent visible;
  • create a nucleus for decision-making; and
  • create a contact point for staff, students and, crucially, for industry partners.

Informal WIL leaders are also essential for successful development and delivery. Distributed leadership models 4.8Jones, S., Harvey, M., & Lefoe, G. (2014). A conceptual approach for blended leadership for tertiary education institutions. Journal of Higher Education Policy and Management, 36(4), 418-429 expect all participants to be leaders and to take responsibility for outcomes and development. Distributed leadership is a natural fit for learning and teaching where outcomes rely heavily on personal relationships. WIL outcomes are improved when students, teachers and industry partners contribute collectively to decision-making.

WIL leaders must also work closely with other teaching and learning leaders to ensure tight connection between work-based learning and the rest of the curriculum.