NAFEA Conference 2023 Highlights

Posted: 13/11/2023
by: Emma Laurence

I recently attended the NAFEA (National Association of Field Experience Administrators) Conference in Cairns 18-20 October, where DVE was a Bronze Sponsor. It was a wonderful opportunity to catch up with some of our clients, as well as hearing about the challenges, innovations and future of Work Integrated Leaning (WIL) across the sector. It was also great to meet a number of new faces who were happy to share their experiences with me over welcome drinks and the conference dinner.

I was delighted to be able to present a sector wide view of WIL, reporting on the findings of a DVE survey sent to 46 NAFEA members. With a response rate of more than 50%, its clear that those working in the WIL space are keen to engage and provide their insights. Our survey showed that most universities are facing similar challenges around resourcing, team structures, supporting technology and the implementation of institution-wide WIL programs, and conference attendees were pleased to know that the challenges they face are common across the sector.

A majority of the respondents indicated that there were between 21-50 staff working in WIL. This does correspond with a recent benchmarking project DVE undertook – we found that those organisations that had centralised their WIL, had similar sized teams of around 20-25 staff.

It’s interesting that there are some experiences that appear to be universally accepted as WIL, such as local and international study tours and fieldwork experiences, and of course internships. Some of our respondents are already finding new ways to offer WIL, such as virtual industry experiences, group student projects with partners and vacation research scholarships where students work alongside academics on research orientated projects.

Participants were asked if WIL was offered in all degrees/programs and 40% indicated that they were, while 36% understood that their organisation was planning to implement WIL in all programs in the near future. Its is clear from our work in WIL that this implementation will have impact on staffing and resources, and well considered planning and process mapping is vital.

In WIL benchmarking projects at DVE, we have found that centralised models deliver consistency across compliance, provider management, process improvement, risk management and student support. From our survey results, responses were varied on whether existing team structures worked or needed Improvement. Some respondents found a decentralised model worked well, but a number of others felt that moving to a centralised model would be more efficient and provide a broader overview of WIL across their institution. Many also many reported that staffing and resources were lacking or fell short of what was needed to effectively deliver the volume of WIL at their institutions.

Our survey asked what systems are used to support WIL, and it’s clear that InPlace is leading the pack. However, current placement technology such as InPace, is not providing the appropriate technology solutions for broader support of WIL experiences that sit outside professional accreditation programs. DVE is currently developing a WIL specific technology solution to sit alongside our exiting CPMS software (Clinical Placement Management System) and we will be rolling this out in 2024.

While institutions are clearly struggling with 3 main issues of compliance, placement supply and resourcing, respondent also identified other issues which included the prohibitive cost to participate in international WIL opportunities, having different placement requirements in different states, student submission of paperwork and escalating costs of delivering WIL, particularly paying for placements.

To learn more, feel free to watch the video below.

If you need some advice on WIL and CPMS, feel free to reach out to us.