Work-integrated learning in biosciences: why, what, and how?

ED Johnson

Deakin University

Bioscience graduates are employed in a wide range of disciplines and professions. A minority continue into careers in scientific research but understanding of science and scientific thinking is increasingly valuable across diverse areas including finance, policy and regulation and creative industries. The recent National Innovation and Science Agenda of the Australian Government calls for deeper relationships between universities and industry. How can bioscience degrees better prepare our graduates to embed science and scientific thinking across the economy and grow collaboration with future industries? Work-integrated learning (WIL) unites industry experience with education. It is a wide range of activities that embed the practice of work into the design and structure of unitv within a purposefully designed curriculum in universities. It includes, but is not limited to, placement, industry projects and career orientation, and can form part of rich relationships with industry and employers. In 2015, Universities Australia partnered with peak industry bodies and ACEN to release a national strategy for WIL and a call to action. A recent study from the Office of the Chief Scientist showed that WIL is obvious in professionally accredited degrees such as engineering but is often invisible in science, including bioscience. The Australian Council of Deans of Science (ACDS) is working with science faculties to significantly expand WIL in science degrees through building leadership for WIL, sharing innovative practice and finding workable solutions to challenges. This presentation will describe the current state of work-integrated learning in science education and present strategies for making industry more visible in bioscience degrees.