External competitions and work integrated learning: a creative industries perspective from Vietnam

Lam Hong Lan*, Jeremy John Watkins

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter (peer-reviewed)peer-review


In their discussion of current Work Integrated Learning (WIL) innovation within the Australian higher education sector, Kay, Ferns, Russell, Smith, and Winchester-Seeto (2019) conclude that ‘Innovative, sustainable and scalable models of WIL are essential to enable universities to service a more diverse and larger student cohort’ (ibid., p. 412). This study aims to contribute to this discussion of ‘sustainability’ raised by Kay et al. through a within-case analysis of how the School of Communication & Design (SCD) at RMIT University Vietnam has integrated an external creative competition within its work-integrated learning (WIL) strategy. Since RMIT Vietnam is a branch campus of the larger Australian-based RMIT University, the following discussion includes examples of Australian policy and practice. Such is the perceived importance of WIL to the Australian higher education sector that a National Strategy on Work-Integrated Learning—co-authored by various university and business stakeholders—was launched in 2015, in order to, ‘increase opportunities to participate in WIL, recognising the benefits to students, employers, universities and the economy (Universities Australia, Australian Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Australian Industry Group, Business Council of Australia, & Australian Collaborative Education Network, 2015). Whilst pragmatic, this kind of focus on economic benefits has been criticised on the basis that the ‘strong focus world-wide on students’ work-readiness and learning outcomes, dictated by regulated competency standards, threatens to reduce the pedagogical possibilities… to individual, fragmented skill proficiency’ (Trede & McEwen, 2015, p. 2). Nonetheless it is proposed that a ‘quality curriculum which integrates WIL experiences both vertically and horizontally, and scaffolds skill development across a programme’ (Bosco & Ferns, 2014, p. 289) is critical to the needs of students, employers and government. Students may receive a range of benefits from a WIL experience including specific knowledge of work practices, processes and cultures alongside broader knowledge of the employment context (Daniel & Daniel, 2015). Multiple Australian universities have reacted to government support for WIL by introducing a range of institution-specific programmes and initiatives and it is suggested that one challenge to future growth will be the sustainability of high-quality WIL experiences (Clayton & Guthrie, 2019).
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationTertiary Education in a Time of Change
Subtitle of host publicationDisruptions, Challenges and Strategies
EditorsTricia McLaughlin, Andrea Chester, Belinda Kennedy, Sherman Young
PublisherSpringer Singapore
Number of pages14
ISBN (Electronic)9789811558832
ISBN (Print)9789811558825
Publication statusPublished - 17 Jun 2020


  • work integrated learning
  • Vietnam

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