What’s happening in WPL in May?

COVID-19 and placements

COVID-19 has been a challenge for all yet it has also brought about many creative ways to conduct business as usual. Without question, placements across universities has been difficult and the effects wide ranging. ACEN recently conducted a second national survey to continue to feel the pulse of the higher education sector – read the summary and/or the full report here.

The key results from the survey are:

  • The majority of non-accredited placements continues in other forms and only 25% of them were cancelled
  • The majority of accredited placements (e.g. clinical health placement) have been postponed and opportunities for conversion to online projects was limited
  • Reasons for cancellations were due to the hosts’ inability to cater for students in this stressful, uncertain time
  • Impact of placement cancellations on students included: wellbeing (disappointment, fear, uncertainty), remote access issues, poor institutional communications
  • University responses to COVID situation included designing alternative placement models
  • The university-industry partnership was seen as very important

At Charles Sturt although social distancing has prevented many hosts from taking students in health and education based placements, in our faculty students have been doing virtual placement which are actually a great reflection of working online. The post COVID-19 world of work will likley look very different and incorporate more virtual and remote work so this new style of placement is providing excellent experience for many of our students.


COVID-19 has meant the state chapter has cancelled the planning around a mini-conference for later this year however it hasn’t stopped a number of “Critical conversations” and workshops being held online. Run by the NSW/ACT chapter, these meetings are proving very popular being well attended nationally with over 120 particpants at the last meeting.

The next ACEN Critical Conversations is scheduled for the 7th May 11am-12pm AEST on the topic “Beyond working from home: New ways of doing WIL”. The forum will discuss post COVID-19 and the where to after the “panic-gogy”. Find out more and register here.

ACEN Nationally

The national board has made the decision to postpone 2020 bi-annual ACEN Conference which was due to be held in Melbourne in October. This follows from the cancellation of the World Advancing Co-operative and Work-Integrated Education (WACE) and the New Zealand Advancing Co-operative Education (NZACE) conferences. No word yet on whether the papers will be published virtually (although expected) and updates will folllow.

On other matters, Canada is a world leader in the WPL/WIL space and has recently provided CA$9 billion of investment to create 5,000 new student placements, and expanding existing programs to create over 116,000 additional jobs. Our national board has respeonded to the COVID-19 crisis with a call for our government to follow this excellent lead. Read the media release here.