Edited by Pierre Benckendorff and Anita Zehrer
Chapter 17: The value of WIL in tourism and student perceptions of employability
The value of work-integrated learning (WIL) in linking theory and practice is well documented, particularly in professional degree programs such as nursing, law, social work and education, where professional practice has long been incorporated into the curriculum. But what of those disciplines not professionally mandated, those not requiring the completion of a practical component before the graduate enters the workplace? How much value is WIL to students when an industry does not explicitly stipulate the inclusion and subsequent nature of WIL activities? This chapter considers the example of the Flinders University tourism degree, which incorporates a variety of compulsory WIL activities, despite the fact that they are not mandated by the tourism industry. The chapter will focus on responses to a questionnaire targeted at graduates, which questioned how useful students found the practical component of their degree to be, and why this was the case. Results indicate that completion of these WIL activities is regarded as a significant and mutually beneficial component of the degree by students, the tourism industry and the university, with a significant subsequent impact on student employability. By examining student perceptions of WIL activities completed as part of this degree, we will consider the ‘value’ of WIL to students, from very early stages in terms of selecting where and what to study, to linking theory and practice during the course of their studies, and finally in reflecting on their subsequent employability.
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