Work-Based Learning Guidelines


All University staff members and students.


To guide staff members on the establishment of formal University-initiated work-based learning (WBL) agreements.


The University has put in place a policy and a set of procedures focused on work-based learning.

Their purpose is to support students in WBL by guiding staff on the establishment of formal University-initiated Work-Based Learning (WBL) agreements, and by outlining to both staff and students the procedures to be undertaken and the support that is available when students encounter unacceptable risks including bullying, harassment or other unhealthy or unsafe behaviours and physical environments.

These guidelines give further background, advice and guidance for students and for University staff members (both professional and academic) with responsibility for:

  • negotiating and documenting WBL agreements with Host Organisations on behalf of the University, and
  • students undertaking WBL at any level of study (foundation, undergraduate and postgraduate)
  • supporting students who have arranged WBL independently of the University.


Definition of work-based learning

For the purpose of this guidance document, work-based learning is defined as learning arising from activity within a host organisation that provides students with opportunities to learn through exploring work challenges including undertaking assigned tasks, participating in teams and engaging in projects.

A host organization may be a commercial or public entity, a not-for-profit and/or social enterprise.

At the University WBL generally consists of:

  • University-initiated WBL:
    • faculty-organised WBL, typically either practicums (formal placements for professionally-focused degrees), projects or internships.
    • WBL managed by teams such as Career Development and Employment Services (CDES), School of Graduate Studies (SGS) and the International Office.
  • Student-initiated WBL:
    • WBL arranged by students that contribute to their study and could comprise internships, paid or unpaid employment.

Why use work-based learning?

WBL has become an increasingly important part of University education for international and domestic students. The primary purpose of WBL is to provide students with learning experiences that integrate knowledge and theory with practical application and skill development in a professional setting (CAS Professional Standards for Higher Education, 2011).

For a student WBL is a valuable vehicle for career development learning. It enhances self-awareness, opportunity engagement, decision-making, and transition learning in relation to employment and lifelong learning. WBL opportunities are particularly valuable for first-in-family and international university students who may not have the professional networks available to other students.

For employers, WBL can be a critical tool for enhancing their profile and organisational recruitment. Employers also benefit from the educated, fresh perspective and energy that a student on a work placement can bring to an organisation.

The University benefits from having its students engaged in WBL as the experiences that students gain from WBL can contribute to the achievement of the Graduate Profile. The University’s engagement in WBL is also an important vehicle for fostering positive relationships with stakeholders in diverse professions and industries.

Guiding principles for work-based learning

  • Students engaged in WBL have a clear, documented process for raising issues related to their personal and professional health, safety and wellbeing (Attachment 1).
  • All students engaged in WBL are entitled to a safe and supportive environment. The University is committed to being safe, inclusive and equitable and will support any student who experiences inappropriate behavior in WBL to seek resolution via the appropriate processes.
  • For University-initiated WBL these processes will be outlined or referenced in the Letter of Agreement or other formal arrangement documenting the roles and responsibilities of the Host Organization, University, and the student.
  • For student-initiated WBL these processes will be outlined or referenced in the Employment (or other) agreement entered into by the student and the Host Organization.
  • University-initiated WBL involves a relationship between the University, Host Organisation, and student: All three parties have responsibilities for ensuring a student’s personal and professional health, safety and wellbeing while in WBL. The roles and responsibilities of each party are defined in any existing, relevant Letter of Agreement or other formal arrangement established prior to the student’s WBL placement.
  • All University-initiated WBL should have a preparatory component: Prior to their WBL placement, students should receive advice on health and safety risks and unacceptable behaviours including sexual and other harassment, discrimination, abuse, and being asked to do something unethical or illegal.
  • For student-initiated WBL the University will provide an opportunity for the student to engage with University-provided sessions and resources to prepare the student for a successful WBL experience.


Include the following:

Host Organisation refers to the organisation that hosts the student who is undertaking WBL.

Staff members refers to individuals employed by the University on a full or part-time basis.

Work-based learning (WBL) refers to learning arising from activity within a host organisation that includes:

(i) formal curricula requirements and/or

(ii) opportunities for students to learn through exploring work challenges including undertaking assigned tasks, participating in teams and engaging in projects.

University means the University of Auckland and includes all subsidiaries.

Key relevant documents

Include the following:

Document management and control

Owner: Pro Vice-Chancellor Education
Content manager: Manager, Academic Quality
Approved by: Vice-Chancellor
Date approved: September 2019
Date of implementation: 2 March 2020
Review date: 2 March 2025