Shaping the Future of Higher Education: CEO Insights on the Impact of the Universities Accord

Shaping the Future of Higher Education: CEO Insights on the Impact of the Universities Accord

Beau Leese, CEO and co-founder of Practera, had the honour of presenting to the National Association of Graduate Careers Advisory Services (NAGCAS) colleagues on the potential impacts of the Universities Accord on educational access. This presentation required diving deep into the Accord’s 400 pages and revisiting several pivotal reports, including the Jobs Ready Graduates, NPILF, Bradley, and WIL in Universities reports. Beau extended his sincere thanks to Marnie Long and Leanne Burke for the invitation and the engaging homework! It was refreshing to delve into policy and strategy. A special shoutout to his co-panelists Denise Bradley, Penny Chancellor, and Michelle Moss for their insightful contributions.

While the Accord awaits Government selection, funding, and implementation of its recommendations, it has set a long-term horizon to 2050. By analyzing broad trends across these policy papers, several clear directional themes have emerged:

  1. Workforce Needs and Mass Education: Tertiary education is poised to meet over 80% of Australia’s future workforce needs. Universities, already delivering a mass education model for over 50% of the commencing workforce, will be increasingly called upon by the Government to align with workforce demands through funding mechanisms.
  2. International Education: Over the past 25 years, the number of international students has grown tenfold, approaching 1 million out of 21 million people aged over 15. This sector is both socially and economically significant, and thus politically sensitive. Universities will need to recalibrate international education to align with national economic needs, including regionalization, diversification of source countries, addressing housing issues, and workforce shortages.
  3. R&D and Innovation: Australia’s investment in R&D and productivity outcomes lags behind most OECD peers. University R&D expenditure now constitutes over one-third of the total. Universities must demonstrate a higher return on investment in national innovation and productivity outcomes.
  4. Access to Work Integrated Learning (WIL): Access to high-quality WIL is unequal, with First Nations, low SES, regional, and international students less engaged than their high SES, metropolitan counterparts. This disparity correlates with attainment and employment gaps.

Strategic Implications for Universities and Career Services

Given these themes, what might they imply for the strategic direction of universities and their careers and employability capacities?

Fundamentally, universities must deeply embed and evidence a distinctive theory and framework for employability, career preparation, and attainment within their education strategy. This must align with national skills requirements and institutional contexts. Key strategic imperatives include:

  1. Enhancing Experiential Learning: Deepen and broaden the integration of experiential learning, employer engagement, and WIL within the curriculum.
  2. Dynamic Programming: Develop dynamic in-curricular and co-curricular programs that address the skills and innovation impacts of new technologies, evolving job gaps, and emerging skills and technologies (including micro-credentials).
  3. Equality of Access to WIL: Ensure equal access to WIL for disadvantaged groups, linking this to improved equality in graduate employment and career attainment.
  4. Sustainable International Strategies: Develop more sustainable international student recruitment, experience, and alignment strategies.
  5. Lifelong Career Support: Shift to a mindset of lifelong career support, partnering with students and alumni throughout their careers, emphasizing skills, experience, and connections.
  6. Engaging and Incentivising Students: Systematically engage and incentivize students to participate in extra-curricular, co-curricular, and in-curricular employability activities, and meaningfully verify and credential their achievements alongside their degrees.

Learn more on the benefits of gaining real-world experience in our ‘Effective Experiential Learning’ whitepaper

Practera’s Role and Vision

At Practera, we see numerous examples of leading practices aligned with these themes in many institutions, and we are thrilled to be working on programs that support them. Too often, these initiatives are specially funded pilots or extracurricular activities. The real opportunity for many institutions lies in genuinely committing to, mandating, and investing in these programs as core components of their strategy. Building the institutional capability to deliver these programs over the long term will yield significant returns in graduate outcomes and alignment with future Government funding incentives.

By embracing these strategic imperatives, universities can position themselves competitively for future funding and ensure they meet the evolving needs of the workforce, students, and the broader community.


Will the cart be leading the horse? Exploring the impact of measuring placement activity on university employability strategies

Will the cart be leading the horse?

Exploring the impact of measuring placement activity on university employability strategies:

The emphasis on OffVenueActivity (OVA) in the UK’s Higher Education Statistics Agency’s Data Futures model indicates a shift in focus on the role played by in-curriculum placements and other work-related activity that takes place away from campus. HESA’s reason for requiring a return from higher education institutions on OVA is defined as:

To enable analysis of the delivery of placements or activity abroad; to enable analysis of student mobility and placements; to monitor how this activity impacts on student attainment and graduate outcomes; to monitor the characteristics of students undertaking this activity.

The research on the impact of placements of up to a year on graduate employment and graduate employability is well established (see for example, the special edition of Higher Education, Skills and Work-based Learning: “Enhancing employability through placements in higher education”, 2014, 4 (3)), so HESA’s expectation of impact should not surprise us. But there are some elements of this data return that raise some interesting questions. Firstly, that returns should be made against the OVA if they total more than 20 days and – within that total – if any individual instance is of at least 5 days in length. And secondly, that a placement “does not need to be credit-bearing or linked to any learning outcomes” (subject to a few specific professionally-aligned exceptions such as clinical placements).

What makes an impactful work-related activity?

Arguably, the length of a trackable experience is a red herring. Clearly from a data collection point of view, a proliferation of very short work placements would be a nightmare to gather. But the implication of the OVA model is that that an experience has to be of 5 days in length (or 35 hours) to be impactful on students’ employability development. So what happens in that 5 days that makes it impactful?

Let’s imagine a hypothetical scenario where every undergraduate Finance course in the UK has an arrangement with every banking institution with UK offices to send their second year students onto a 5 day Spring Week or insight programme. These are often well-conceived programmes, but they are designed with the intention to engage future applicants and employees to join the sector and those organisations. For a second year Finance student who knows they want to work in the finance sector this is likely to be a very impactful activity. But for a student who enjoys their programme but doesn’t want to work in the sector, it’s not impactful in the same way but we would still be tracking it as if it were.

We might find that such a student is able to firm up their career plans in a very different direction as a result of this work-related activity, or we might find that it completely puts them off the sector and, perhaps, their programme too. So the stage of the student’s career readiness – their career planning – is a key factor in whether a work-related activity is impactful towards their graduate outcome. And we are also left with the question of whether tracking analysis will imply that a graduate outcome that is professionally aligned with its preceding placement is ‘good’, and possibly better than an outcome which is not professionally aligned with that placement.

By extension there is also a question about what is actually gained during the work-related activity. Exposure to large amounts of sector knowledge can often contribute very positively to a student’s career readiness and their ability to apply successfully for a role in that sector later on. But unless the student is also engaged in active skill development that is scaffolded with reflective learning on both that skill development and their knowledge gain, their ability to be successful in that role or sector is not being developed holistically, and the activity may not have as much impact as we might think.

If we are focused on sector knowledge gain, it would be easy for someone uninformed to argue that a student who takes part in a 25 hour small group collaborative employer project allocated at random has far less chance of developing their employability towards successful graduate attainment (and we aren’t tracking it anyway as it’s too short). But if that project is intentionally focused on five or six areas of skill development with strongly scaffolded reflective learning around it, I would argue that the gain to the student’s employability development is actually considerable, targeted and significant, even if it doesn’t move their ideas about their career plans further along and it doesn’t meet the definition of a trackable activity.

What it does do is impact the student’s ability to know what they can do and how to apply it, and that is a key element of successful entry to the workplace. Indeed, the Institute of Student Employers annual development surveys reinforce the importance of such self-awareness every single year. I’m not arguing for tracking shorter experiences, but I am saying that we need to think much more carefully about what makes an experience meaningful and impactful. Which leads us to this question:

What do we make of “need not be credit-bearing or linked to any learning outcomes”?

Researchers and practitioners including Aranee Manoharan (2020) have established the critical importance to an inclusive student learning experience of situating employability development in curriculum, and in many respects we might see OVA as evidence that this is being taken seriously. However, a work-related activity that is not credit-bearing is at risk of not realising the benefit for the student that it could.

It is completely reasonable that students with limited time due to other ‘real world’ commitments such as part-time employment and caring responsibilities will focus principally on assessed aspects of a course in order simply to achieve as well as they can. So, faced with a work-related project that is useful but not assessment critical because it has no learning outcome attached, those students can’t be blamed if they choose to step lightly through that experience in order to use their limited time to do better in an exam or other assessed piece of work that is tied to learning outcomes.

On the one hand, therefore, we might see HESA’s tracking of any experience of 5 days or more, regardless of whether it has a learning outcome or assessment attached, as very inclusive of all the different work-related activities that might take place within curriculum (see also Mark Peace’s inspiring article on Substack on all learning being experiential) and thus as inclusive as possible of all students.

On the other hand, if we are using the data collected to analyse the impact on those same students’ graduate employment, we are making some implied judgement calls about whether a student made the most of the experience they had in curriculum. In doing so, we are in danger of making some very risky and damaging assumptions not just about the impact on their graduate employment but also about whether the student was genuinely able to realise the benefit of the opportunity.

Learn more on the benefits of gaining real-world experience in our ‘Effective Experiential Learning’ whitepaper

Will tracking OVA become a stick or a carrot?

Assessment in work-based learning should be formative and summative, providing students with constructive feedback. This continuous evaluation aids skill development and fosters a deeper connection between academia and industry.

All of the above has some really interesting implications for universities’ strategies to deliver education, careers education and employability. UK higher education institutions have focused increasingly on the integration of placements and experiential learning in curriculum in recent years, and sometimes these objectives can have quite a negative impact on academics’ perceptions of the relationship between academic curriculum and employability development (Daubney, 2022), particularly if they feel that curriculum integrity is being sacrificed. Integrating work-related learning is also a huge commitment of time and resourcing to design and deliver whether done internally or in partnership with a supplier.

But I can’t help but think that HESA’s decision to increase the tracking of work-related and experiential learning in curriculum is likely to show up later on in how the regulator evaluates what universities are doing to support graduate employment outcomes. And that before long this tracking will become another stick, rather than a carrot, when it comes to creating and delivering education strategies in universities.

Every institution will start thinking that they need to increase their work-related learning – at trackable levels – in order to meet that expectation. So my fear is that universities might look for easy routes to “tick off’ what they might very quickly come to see as an OVA ‘requirement’ to develop student employability in a particular way and in doing so also “tick off’ their academic staff, instead of thinking about more sustainable approaches to re-imagining existing curriculum that don’t require tracking but still develop student employability.

So, what does make an impactful work-related activity that benefits graduate outcomes that is worth building an education strategy around? HESA have put some criteria in place by explicitly stating ‘off venue’ as part of the definition, and in my capacity as an Advisory Board Member for experiential learning provider Practera, I clarified with HESA recently that ‘off venue’ does include virtual work experiences (my thanks to the HESA Liaison team for this). Either way, an employer is involved, and experiences like that can be very productively co-created either directly with employers or with suppliers of pedagogically sound experiential learning experiences.

But if you are an institution who hasn’t got the financial and staffing resource to reinvent your education strategy in that way, what do you do? Well, what if – instead of a Spring Week type experience – an academic created a piece of authentic (or more varied means of) assessment where each learning outcome also intentionally developed a different transferable skill and didn’t only assess knowledge gain?

Given that these transferable skills are the same ones that employers are looking for, could we not just as reasonably say that this is work-related and has an impact on graduate employability and employment? A student who can, for example, articulate how they have developed their ability to define a problem, or construct a narrative from evidence, or apply a model in different contexts and has some interesting ways to demonstrate that through assessment is going to be able to talk confidently about how their degree has helped them prepare for a range of different workplaces, and demonstrate that self-awareness that employers are looking for. And that is going to have a positive effect on their ability to secure a good graduate outcome.

But we aren’t tracking approaches like that, because we aren’t working with a new data collection model that even asks us to think about using learning outcomes to help students develop their transferable skills and thus get more impact from their education in their chosen graduate employment outcome. I hope therefore that universities, particularly those without the resource to commit to creating work-related activities in curriculum, will not feel panicked by the OVA, and will instead remember that they already have everything they need in their existing curriculum to make a positive impact on students’ future employability.

Learn more on the benefits of gaining real-world experience in our ‘Effective Experiential Learning’ whitepaper

Kate Daubney

Careers and Employability Consultant and Practera Advisory Board

Kate Daubney is a former academic and a former head of university careers services, and now acts as a consultant on education, careers education and employability strategies to universities in the UK and internationally. She is an Advisory Board Member for Practera and on the Board of Gyrfa Cymru Careers Wales.

Manoharan, A., (2020). “Bridging inclusion and employability: creating significant real-world experiences in the curriculum” in Baughan, P. (ed) Assessment and Feedback in a Post-Pandemic Era: A Time for Learning and Inclusion, (Advance HE) pp.118-126.

Daubney, K. (2022), ““Teaching employability is not my job!”: redefining embedded employability from within the higher education curriculum”, Higher Education, Skills and Work-Based Learning, Vol. 12 No. 1, pp. 92-106.

Enhancing Skills Development in Work-Based Learning: A Vital Imperative for Higher Education Educators

Enhancing Skills Development in Work-Based Learning:

A Vital Imperative for Higher Education Educators

In today’s rapidly changing job market, the traditional model of higher education is facing a growing challenge. The demand for job-ready graduates with practical, real-world skills is rising. As a result, higher education institutions and educators must adapt their strategies to ensure students are well-prepared for the workforce. This adaptation often takes the form of work-based learning, a powerful approach to skill development. In this blog, we will explore the significance of skills development in work-based learning and strategies and best practices for Higher Education Educators to enhance skills development through Work-based Learning.

The Relevance of Skill Development in the Modern Workforce

In an era characterised by technological advancements and shifting economic landscapes, the skills required for success in the workplace are evolving at an unprecedented pace. The knowledge and abilities students acquire in higher education are becoming increasingly critical. According to a report from the World Economic Forum, at the end of 2022, approximately 50% of all employees required significant reskilling and upskilling. The above statistic highlights the urgent need for continuous skills development. Work-based learning is a powerful way for higher education institutions to address this requirement.

The Impact of Work-Based Learning on Skills Development

Work-based learning encompasses a range of approaches, from internships and co-op programs to apprenticeships and project-based assignments. These experiences provide students with the opportunity to apply academic knowledge in real-world contexts.A study by the National Association of Colleges and Employers (NACE) found that students who completed internships were more likely to secure a job upon graduation, with an 82.7% success rate compared to 35.2% for those who didn’t.A survey by Universities Australia in 2019 found that 78% of students believe that work-integrated learning experiences helped them develop essential skills.These facts point to the effectiveness of work-based learning in preparing students for successful transitions to the workforce. It’s a testament to the importance of integrating such experiences into higher education curricula.

Challenges in Implementing Work-Based Learning for Skills Development

While work-based learning is a potent tool for skills development, it’s not without challenges. Higher education educators need to be aware of these obstacles and be able to navigate them to ensure the effectiveness of their programs. Let’s explore some key issues and challenges.
The American Institutes for Research found that while employers highly value work-based learning experiences, coordination and communication between higher education institutions and employers can be a significant challenge.
The 2020 QILT survey in Australia reported that only 43% of graduates had undertaken an internship, emphasising the need for more inclusive policies and practices and the ability for the program to be scaled relatively easily at low cost.  The above underscores the importance of strong partnerships between educators, employability program providers and employers to maximise the benefits of work-based learning.

Learn more on the benefits of gaining real-world experience in our ‘Effective Experiential Learning’ whitepaper

Strategies and Best Practices for Higher Education Educators to Enhance Skills Development Through Work-Based Learning

  • Curriculum Integration

    • Higher education institutions must integrate work-based learning seamlessly into their curricula. This requires creating flexible programs allowing students to engage in internships, co-ops, or apprenticeships without delaying graduation.
  • Industry Partnerships

    • Building strong partnerships with industries is essential. Collaboration should extend beyond internships and involve curriculum development, joint research projects, and mentorship programs. This ensures that students are learning relevant and up-to-date skills.
  • Holistic Student Support

    • To ensure equitable access, universities should offer comprehensive support services to help students secure work-based learning opportunities, regardless of their background or circumstances.
  • Assessment and Feedback

    • Assessment in work-based learning should be formative and summative, providing students with constructive feedback. This continuous evaluation aids skill development and fosters a deeper connection between academia and industry.

In conclusion, the imperative for higher education educators to enhance skills development through work-based learning is evident. The demand for job-ready graduates with practical skills continues to grow. To meet this demand, educators must incorporate work-based learning opportunities into their programs, leverage providers and partners to scale the program and establish strong partnerships with employers. By doing so, they can prepare their students for success in a dynamic and ever-evolving job market.

Learn more on the benefits of gaining real-world experience in our ‘Effective Experiential Learning’ whitepaper

Practera can Help You Launch a Successful Employability Skills Development with Real Industry Projects at Scale and Low Cost
Experiential learning is the key to building students’ employability. Yet, there isn’t a level playing field for students to access authentic industry experience and, therefore, top-tier jobs.
For 10 years, Practera has been partnering with more than 100 institutions & 1,000 employers to deliver award-winning student-industry projects. Online team-based industry projects offer substantial benefits, including:
  • Students apply skills/knowledge to industry scenarios– Employers gain value-add insights and access to graduate talent
  • Educators can offer inclusive work-based learning at lower cost, broader geographic reach and enhanced scalability
  • Plus, Practera’s unique program structure guarantees feedback for your learners along with authentic industry touchpoints
Practera’s industry experience programs make connecting your learners with organisations more effortless than ever. Past learners of Practera’s programs have enjoyed benefits such as enhanced social and professional connections, deeper motivation, real industry experience that employers value, virtual and remote working skills and a strong resume. The learners will also learn how to better present their skills, credentials, and experience in interview scenarios, seriously boosting their chances of landing their dream job after graduation!

The Future of Leadership: Embracing Change and Transformation

What Does the Term Future of Leadership Mean, and How Does Student Industry Experience and Graduate Employability Impact it

The future of leadership refers to the evolving nature of leadership in the coming years, taking into account the changing global landscape, technological advancements, and shifting societal expectations. In today’s rapidly evolving world, the concept of leadership has taken on new dimensions and challenges. As industries, job markets, and working environments undergo significant transformations, it is crucial for educators and universities to give aspiring graduates the necessary tools and practices to develop skills and competencies to succeed in their chosen fields.

In this blog post, we will explore the future of leadership, with a specific focus on industry experience and its link to graduate employability and building future leaders.

Understanding the Future of Leading

The traditional notion of leadership, characterised by hierarchical structures and top-down decision-making, is undergoing a paradigm shift. The future of leading is rooted in adaptability, collaboration, virtual capabilities, ownership and innovation. Effective leaders of tomorrow must possess a diverse skill set that goes beyond technical expertise. They should be able to navigate uncertainty, inspire teams, drive change, be as impactful in person as virtually and embrace a global mindset.

Leadership in the future will require individuals to be comfortable with ambiguity and complexity. As technological advancements continue to reshape industries, leaders must be able to leverage emerging technologies, such as artificial intelligence and automation, to drive organisational growth and productivity. Moreover, the ability to lead diverse teams in virtual, hybrid, and remote scenarios in a culturally sensitive manner will become increasingly important as globalisation blurs boundaries and brings together people from different backgrounds and perspectives.

The Role of Industry Experience

While academic qualifications are undoubtedly important, industry experience plays a vital role in enhancing graduate employability.

While tertiary education plays a pivotal role in carving career paths, many employers note a need for work-ready skills among new graduates. In fact, a remarkable 83% of employers struggle to find suitable candidates due to a shortage of necessary skills, according to research done by NACE 2022 in the US.

Employers increasingly seek candidates who can hit the ground running and contribute immediately to their organisations. Practical experience gained through internships, co-op programs, or part-time jobs provides graduates a competitive edge.Industry experience allows individuals to apply theoretical knowledge in real-world contexts, enabling them to develop practical skills and gain insights into industry trends, challenges, and best practices. It helps graduates understand the nuances of their chosen fields, build professional networks, and establish credibility among potential employers.Moreover, industry experience fosters the development of essential leadership qualities. It offers opportunities for graduates to cultivate essential professional skills like problem-solving, adaptability, virtual teamwork, communication, and resilience – all crucial attributes for effective leadership in the future.

Linking Industry Experience to Graduate Employability

As the future of work becomes increasingly dynamic, graduate employability relies on integrating industry experience into academic programs. Employers often find that recent graduates have the technical knowledge required for their jobs but must gain essential professional skills required to succeed in the role. Employers expect new hires to have excellent communication skills, problem-solving abilities, critical thinking skills, and the ability to work in remote and in-person teams. Unfortunately, these skills are not always taught in traditional academic settings.

It is essential for educators and universities to understand the importance of professional skills and incorporate them into their curricula. Universities and educational institutions must adapt curricula to provide students with experiential learning opportunities that align with industry needs. Internship programs, industry projects, and collaboration with businesses should be an integral part of the educational journey. These initiatives enable students to gain practical skills, build professional networks, and develop a deep understanding of industry dynamics. By bridging the gap between academia and the workplace through industry experience, students can graduate with a strong foundation of real-world experience that enhances their employability prospects. Furthermore, fostering partnerships between educational institutions and industries creates a win-win situation. Employers gain access to a pool of well-prepared talent to meet industry demands. At the same time, students receive the necessary exposure and experience to thrive in their careers.

Learn more on the benefits of gaining real-world experience in our ‘Effective Experiential Learning’ whitepaper

The Path to Success

In conclusion, the future of leadership is evolving to meet the demands of a rapidly changing world. Aspiring graduates, educators and universities must recognise the importance of industry experience in enhancing employability skills. By actively seeking out opportunities for practical learning, universities and educators can help their learners develop the skills, knowledge, and networks necessary to develop future leaders. Moreover, educational institutions and industries must collaborate to provide students with experiential learning opportunities, ultimately shaping the leaders of tomorrow who will drive innovation and success in their respective fields.

Remember, the future belongs to those willing to embrace change, adapt, and continuously learn. Are you ready to equip your learners with tools that take them to success?

How can Practera help?

Practera is a project learning technology enabled organisation that can connect learners with real-world learning opportunities, internships, work placements, and industry experience programs.

Enrolling in one of these programs will allow learners to gain in-demand skills employers are recruiting for and provide them with actual talking points for their CV/next job applications, participating & learning as a student consultant to solve various real-world business challenges from driving technological innovation, creating new funding opportunities, finding new market expansion pathways to encouraging sustainability.

If you’re a student, check out our government-backed student programs to sign up for free and kick-start your career.

If you’re an educator looking to boost your student’s chances of success or increase student engagement, you can try our industry experience program for free,  contact the Practera team, or download our white paper to learn more about project-based learning programs.

Virtual Internships: Connecting Students and Companies

Virtual internships involve adapting the traditional onsite internship model for the contemporary virtual world. COVID-19’s impacts have proven that leveraging innovative digital technologies – like Practera’s – allows educators, companies and students to continue their activities in a disrupted world. In fact, it has highlighted the many benefits of moving online – such as enhanced flexibility and cost and time savings.

What Is a Virtual Internship?

Virtual internship programs offer students and new graduates the opportunity to gain real-world, remote work experience with a company in their field, under the supervision of a professional mentor. Virtual interns work on authentic projects assigned by the organisation or company hosting them. 

Each internship involves tailored projects designed to enhance student skill development and employability, while also supporting a range of organisational goals – such as growth and innovation, identifying export opportunities, developing sustainable practices, and finding new funding sources.

Virtual internships are sometimes also known as remote internships or online internships. They are available across a huge variety of fields and industries, such as marketing, business, accounting, and international relations.

Who Can Apply For A Virtual Internship?

Any student can talk to their university about conducting a virtual internship. Some universities have a policy designed to promote equal opportunity access, allowing any student to participate in company projects and gain career-boosting skills and experience – irrespective of their age, faculty, degree program or location.

To ensure a virtual internship supports academic learning, it needs to be directly related to a student’s educational course

Virtual Internship

Can Any Business Accept Virtual Interns?

The short answer is yes – any company or organisation can host students on virtual internships. The business needs to offer students a safe learning environment and the opportunity to work on a project where they can apply their academic knowledge to an authentic work scenario. 

Learn more on the benefits of gaining real-world experience in our ‘Effective Experiential Learning’ whitepaper

This typically involves working on a solution to a genuine challenge or situation the business is facing – such as how to implement an effective social media strategy or find new ways to reduce their environmental footprint. The business will also need to provide a professional mentor to give students guidance and feedback. 

How Can My Business Establish A Virtual Internship Program?

Establishing a virtual internship program may sound like another task to add to an already overloaded schedule. But with Practera’s help, the process is fast and easy. We’ll work alongside you to engage a team of talented students to explore opportunities in the marketplace and solve key challenges for your business or organisation.  

Here’s how it works:

  • You choose a suitable project type from our list (or talk to us about what would work best for your business).
  • Submit a project brief (this only takes 5-10 minutes to complete).
  • We’ll assign a team of students to undertake your project.
  • You review students’ work and provide online feedback (this takes approximately 60min/week over 2-3 weeks).
  • You receive a market research report with recommendations.

Practera currently have a global network of over 2000 corporate, community and government partners providing learners with authentic work experiences. 

You can learn more or submit a project here.

The Benefits of Virtual Internships 

When conducted well, virtual internships have benefits for everyone involved.


  • Get to apply their academic learning to a real-world work situation
  • Gain career-related and transferable skills and confidence
  • Get to connect with potential future employers and professional peers 
  • Boost their employability by adding relevant work experience to their resume
  • Gain insight into current challenges and opportunities in their field
  • Benefit from mentoring by a qualified professional
  • Have greater flexibility to conduct an internship around their schedule
  • Save time and money commuting to a workplace.


  • Enhance student learning through real world experiences
  • Differentiate your institution from your competitors
  • Attract and retain students
  • Add variety to your suite of pedagogical strategies 
  • Build mutually beneficial networks with industry, government and community partners.


  • Gain access to teams of keen and talented students
  • Upskill and reskill staff by providing mentoring experience 
  • Identify graduate talent, saving time and money on hiring
  • Get innovative solutions for key challenges
  • Save time and money on market research 
  • Discover insights to help with planning and decision-making
  • Stay current with industry knowledge and trends
  • Build helpful networks with universities.

Virtual Internships

University Involvement in Placing Students for Virtual Internships

For universities, finding student placements can be a huge drain on time and resources. With our global network of more than 2000 corporate, community and government partners, Practera makes it easy to provide learners with authentic work experiences such as virtual internships. We can help universities grow a healthy reputation and boost industry engagement while increasing scale and reducing delivery costs. 

How Can Practera Help with Virtual Internships?  

Working with Practera can allow organisations or institutions to set up virtual internships quickly and efficiently. Our innovative platform facilitates provision of a range of fully supported program types, across different durations and levels. Digitally enabled and scalable to thousands of learners, they provide authentic industry experience, feedback and connections for students.

We also offer managed services to help both set up your virtual programs and connect students with global leaders. By connecting with our team, you can make the most out of your student projects as we find the most suitable programs and offer continuous support with a dedicated program manager.

The success of your virtual internship program is assured with our ingenious platform. Featuring robust pedagogical design, it allows seamless learning delivery with engaging apps, feedback loops and artificial intelligence (AI) powered analytics.

Easily design custom virtual internships

A key feature of Practera’s platform is the ability to custom design programs. With Practera, you can author any type of experiential learning – including virtual internships – on the one intuitive and easy to use platform. To streamline the process, our system will guide you by asking the most important questions, enabling you to create powerful learning experiences tailored to both students and industry or community partners.

To make things even easier, you can start creating experiences with just a few clicks using our template library. Simply browse the learning library, pick the right experience type, then choose one of our high-quality templates – all created by expert learning designers – to get started. 

Engaging interface with research-backed design

Practera’s platform features an elegant, intuitive mobile-first interface that supports gamification and personalisation – thereby elevating learning engagement and outcomes. Closely aligned with Kolb’s Experiential Learning Cycle, it is designed to utilise experiential learning loops associated with real world activity. Learners and industry partners are engaged in personalised, engaging workflows with structured content that supports application of theory to practice, feedback and reflection loops. 

Practera’s superpower is its ability to provide timely, relevant feedback using integrated support tools. Students give and receive personalised feedback from their mentors, peers and educators at key points to drive critical reflection, thereby deepening learning and improving performance. 

World-leading AI technology

Another key feature is our world-first artificial intelligence assistant designed specifically for experiential learning. Practera’s ELSA (Experiential Learning Support Assistant) monitors experiences 24/7 to provide real-time suggestions based on evidence from experiential learning science and practice. ELSA saves educators time and helps deliver better outcomes for students.

High-tech analytics facilitate program monitoring and quality assurance reviews. Real-time data dashboards identify the critical issues for experiential learning, enabling you to see any issues at a glance and respond before small problems escalate into bigger ones. 

And if you need any help with designing a virtual internship for your company or institution, Practera’s responsive team are available at

Learn more on the benefits of gaining real-world experience in our ‘Effective Experiential Learning’ whitepaper

Boost Graduate Employability with Experiential Learning

Are you looking to boost graduate employment outcomes within your learning institution? Experiential learning is the answer.

But—you might be wondering—what is experiential learning, and how does it boost graduate employability? Is there any proof of a connection between the two?

We’ll answer these burning questions and more in this article. 

What is graduate employability?

Graduate employability is the ability of a student to find a job following graduation. More specifically, it is the degree to which students can use their skills and knowledge to find work.

A range of factors can affect graduate employability rates, including economic conditions, cost of living, job availability, graduates career prospects, and university prestige.

So, how can universities help students find employment after graduation with all these factors to consider? And at the same time, what can students do to improve their chances at securing work?

It’s all about employability skills.

With relevant skills, knowledge, and experience under their belt, students are well-equipped for finding work after graduation. 

Some examples of employability skills include:

One of the best ways universities can instil employability skills in their students is through experiential learning. We’ll talk more about this educational approach in the next section of this article.

Boost graduate employability with Practera and learn more about the importance of experiential learning today.

What is experiential learning?

Experiential learning is a teaching method based on the idea that learning happens through experience. While it may seem like a fancy phrase for “learning by doing”, the approach is a proven educational philosophy surrounding the concept that students learn best when engaged in active, hands-on, meaningful, and relevant activities.

While you can apply experiential learning to many aspects of life, it’s becoming increasingly popular in higher education settings.

To help you better understand what experiential learning is, let’s walk through some examples.

  1. Architectural students are learning about topography. Rather than researching the subject online, the students visit a real building site and physically take topographical land measurements using surveying equipment. In this way, the students gain real, hands-on experience with the subject, have higher retention rates, and will have a better chance at finding an architecture graduate job.
  2. Art students are learning about anatomy. Instead of studying from a book, the students take life drawing classes and actively reflect upon and receive real-time feedback as they paint. In turn, the students learn to think critically and manage feedback about their work.

Recent studies have found that experiential learning and employment outcomes are deeply connected. For example, a 2014 study found experiential learning enhanced employability for business and management students, while a 2019 study found experiential learning improves employability, progression, and prospects of engineering graduates.

Boost Graduate Employability with Experiential Learning - Collaborative workspace

Ensuring the degrees you offer enable graduate employability

Regardless of a student’s course of study, there are ways to implement experiential learning. The examples in the section above are only two of the endless options available for universities hoping to improve graduate outcomes.

Ideally, the degrees your institution offers should provide students with real-world experiences relevant to their chosen careers. Of course, not all students studying the same course will have the same future plans—that’s why it’s critical to involve students in curriculum planning as much as possible.

With experiential learning approaches, students choose activities and topics relevant to their interests and preferred field. In this way, students absorb and retain information more readily and are equipped with their skills to find work after graduation.

We’ll go into more detail about how your institution can achieve these goals in the next section.

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3 ways universities can boost graduate employability

Let’s talk about three key ways universities can boost graduate employability.

1. Make your courses workforce-relevant

Many university courses focus on academic skills without clarifying how the skills relate to working life. To create employable graduates, institutions need to build job-ready skills and prepare students for the reality of the workforce.

One of the best ways to achieve this is through work-integrated learning (WIL), a branch of experiential education. Through WIL, students gain on-the-job experience through volunteering, internships, job simulations, or other forms of hands-on work.

2. Provide a dedicated portal to jump-start careers

Providing a dedicated portal is a fantastic way for universities and students to take control of employment outcomes. This portal could be a learning and employment hub where students can view relevant jobs for graduates, brush up on their hard and soft skills, and connect with employers, educators, and peers.

Practera’s experiential learning platform is an example of a dedicated portal that can help students jump-start their careers. Among other features, the platform streamlines connections between students and employers, helping them network and build lasting working relationships.

3. Double down on lifelong learning

Learning shouldn’t end when students graduate. It’s critical to instil an interest in lifelong learning within every student, helping them understand that upskilling is essential for career success.

The best way universities can achieve this is by giving students control and autonomy over their work, allowing them to guide their approach to their studies and gain confidence in their ability to learn new skills.

How experiential learning can boost graduate employability

There are two main approaches within the experiential learning sphere—work-integrated learning, which we discussed above, and project-based learning. These two approaches can boost graduate employability in distinct ways.

Through WIL, students gain skills deeply relevant to their chosen careers. They gain real, hands-on experience with their field of work and can network with industry experts and leaders.

On the other hand, through project-based learning (which involves engaging in hands-on, long-term projects), students can build skills relevant to work and everyday life. These abilities assist in preparing students for challenges they may face as they enter the working world and make them more appealing to potential employers.

Boost Graduate Employability with Experiential Learning - Graduate working

How work-integrated learning works

Work-integrated learning is a type of experiential learning that allows students to get hands-on experience in their field of study. It also provides them with a chance to connect what they are learning in the classroom and what they are experiencing at work.

Universities can offer WIL through:

Work-integrated learning for graduate employment

Implementing work-integrated learning to improve graduate employment outcomes is simple. It’s all about offering the right kind of WIL depending on the student’s preferred career path.

For example, engineering students could benefit best from fieldwork, while students seeking computer science graduate jobs might prefer work placements or internships. You should also consider each student’s unique learning style and offer opportunities to suit.

For help with choosing the best WIL opportunities to enhance employment outcomes, an experiential learning platform like Practera can help. 

How Practera can help learning institutions deliver powerful experiential learning opportunities

Practera offers a broad range of useful features through its dedicated learning platform, benefiting students, employers, institutions, and educators alike. Institutions can connect students with industry leaders and authentic experiences, projects, and internships through the platform.

Delivery is simple. Educators can choose from premade templates built around the best experiential learning opportunities or create a custom experience through Practera’s flexible configuration capabilities.

The platform also offers additional features like adaptive learning pathways, assessment management tools, peer review features, analytics, and much more, making it easier than ever for institutions to boost employment outcomes through valuable learning experiences.

Connect with our team today to adapt one of our authentic Student Industry Project themes to your program with our project-based learning managed service. Let us do the work of connecting your students with global industry leaders with a dedicated program manager by your side and work to find the project that best suits you and your students.

Kick start your experiential journey in 2022 with Practera today. To find out more, connect with our team for a discussion, undertake a demo or download our white paper here

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