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Earn and learn program pays dividends

Antony Perry

7 March 2018: Two University of Canberra students have taken the first steps in their careers as technology consultants after turning paid work placements into full-time roles at PwC.

Lauren Firth and Madison Head were among the first cohort of students to graduate on Wednesday from a new program aimed at bridging the gap between university and the professional world.

The Industry Based Learning program, a joint initiative of the University and PwC, was introduced last August as an alternative to classroom learning.


Participants swapped textbooks for teleconferences for six months as they applied skills and knowledge learned at university in a real-life work environment.

The program wrapped up last month, but little has changed for Ms Firth and Ms Head who are now full-time employees at the consulting firm.

Ms Firth has secured a graduate position, while Ms Head’s contract has been extended by six months while she completes the final semester of her double degree in information technology and commerce.

“It’s such a relief knowing all the hard work has paid off,” Ms Firth, who will graduate from the University in April with a double degree in business administration and business informatics, said.

“I worked on some major projects during the program and was exposed to a whole range of experiences and challenges. Being in the final semester of my degree, I could take everything I had learnt at university and apply it to the projects. It was so rewarding seeing it all come together.”

The introduction of the Industry Based Learning program foreshadowed the University’s commitment to make work-integrated learning a compulsory part of every degree, as outlined in its new strategic plan.


What makes the IBL program unique is that students are paid to work while earning credit points toward their degree. The program’s content is fully integrated with the University’s curriculum, ensuring there are no gaps in participants’ learning.

Associate Vice-President (Students, Partnerships and International) Professor Lawrence Pratchett said Ms Firth and Ms Head’s employment outcomes was evidence that the arrangement was helping students develop the skills and knowledge they need to build successful careers.

“The University of Canberra is focused on producing industry-ready graduates and we know that work-integrated learning goes a long way to achieving that,” Professor Pratchett said.

“The Industry Based Learning program provides an opportunity for students to be fully immersed in a professional workplace and we know that when students engage with industry throughout their studies, everyone benefits.”

The inaugural Industry Based Learning program marked the first time the University and PwC have worked together to enhance students’ learning experiences, but PwC Partner Iain McGuire said it wouldn’t be the last.

“PwC has been delighted at how successful this program has been,” Mr McGuire said. “It exceeded all of our expectations and we can’t wait to see what the partnership brings in the future.”

The program is currently targeted at students studying STEM-related (science, technology, engineering and math) degrees. Students interested in participating should contact Careers UC.