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Successful work-integrated learning relationships: A framework for sustainability

Work-integrated learning (WIL) experiences rely heavily on the development of relationships between the university, industry and often community organizations. As participation in WIL is increasing, the issue of sustainability becomes paramount, requiring processes and practices for effective collaborations and partnerships. This paper reports on an action research project to develop a framework to represent the critical success factors for sustainable WIL relationships. Drawing on reflections from WIL practitioners on what they considered were the critical success factors and a review of literature, a framework was developed, prioritizing three key themes: communication, commitment and compatibility. Within these themes, nine key factors were identified and then evaluated by academic and industry stakeholders in New Zealand, Canada and Australia. Trust, expectations, reciprocity, coordination, vision, learning, resources, reputation, and recognition were confirmed as important factors for sustainable WIL relationships. The framework provides good practice guidelines for all WIL stakeholders.