Paid placements at university: new agreement for teaching students

18 APRIL 2024

Paid placements at university: new agreement for teaching students

As the latest of a series of its paid placement programs, Charles Sturt University has secured an agreement with the Australian Capital Territory (ACT) Education Directorate to provide paid placements for initial teacher education (ITE) students.

  • A new agreement offers paid placements for final-year Charles Sturt University initial teacher education (ITE) students wanting to teach in ACT government schools
  • This initiative ensures final-year ITE students can fully engage in their teaching practicum without the burden of financial strain
  • ‘Placement poverty has become a growing concern in Australia, affecting university students pursuing a range of careers, including teaching

As the latest of a series of its paid placement programs, Charles Sturt University has secured an agreement with the Australian Capital Territory (ACT) Education Directorate to provide paid placements for initial teacher education (ITE) students.

The new agreement offers paid placements for final-year Charles Sturt ITE students wanting to teach in ACT government schools.

This strategic alliance seeks to provide invaluable real-world experience to aspiring educators while offering them financial support through paid placements and endorsed by the ACT Teacher Quality Institute (TQI).

In recent years, ‘placement poverty’ has become a growing concern in Australia, affecting university students pursuing careers in teaching, nursing and care. This issue has been further exacerbated by the current cost-of-living crisis.

Unpaid placements have been flagged as an area in need of serious reform by the largest review of the university sector in decades. Work experience is considered vital, but can push students into financial stress, according to the University Accord’s report released last month, labelling the situation ‘placement poverty’.

Many final-year initial teacher education students face financial hardships during their mandatory placement periods, hindering their ability to focus on their studies and gain practical experience in diverse educational settings.

Australia’s persistent teacher shortages in schools have reached ‘crisis’ levels, according to Education Minister Jason Clare. There is a supply issue as well as a retention issue.

Professor John McDonald, Executive Dean in the Charles Sturt Faculty of Arts and Education, said this partnership not only enhances the quality of teacher education but also addresses the financial challenges faced by ITE students - our future teachers.

“This initiative will offer paid placements to final-year students, ensuring they can fully engage in their teaching practicum without the burden of financial strain,” Professor McDonald said.

“This collaboration exemplifies our commitment to providing a comprehensive and supportive education for our future teachers. By offering paid placements, we aim to alleviate financial stressors, allowing students to focus on honing their skills in real-world classrooms.”

ACT Minister for Education Yvette Berry emphasised the government’s dedication to supporting the education sector.

“We recognise the crucial role played by our educators in shaping the future,” Minister Berry said.

“This partnership aligns with our commitment to fostering a robust education system by investing in the professional development of aspiring teachers.”

Charles Sturt ITE students interested in this opportunity will need to register for a Restricted Permit to Teach (RPTT) prior to their placement. As part of employment-based pathways the Directorate offers RPPT teaching positions to ITE students in their final year.

The program is expected to not only improve the overall quality of teacher education but also contribute to a more diverse and inclusive pool of educators entering the workforce.

Paid placements will enable students from diverse socio-economic backgrounds to participate in practicum experiences, ensuring a broader representation of perspectives in the teaching profession.

In addition to the paid placements with the ACT Education Directorate, Charles Sturt’s paid placements for engineering students has been marked as a leading program in the industry.

Charles Sturt Engineering spokesperson Associate Professor Pete Thew in the School of Computing, Mathematics and Engineering said the Charles Sturt Engineering degree was set up and designed around significant workplace learning, combining the best parts of an apprenticeship with a university degree.

“Our students do four years of paid placements on their way to a master’s degree in civil engineering which is significantly more than any other university degree in Australia,” Professor Thew said.

“Many of our cadets are working in jobs designed for graduates, and some of them are already managing significant projects.

“All the engineering placements are paid, and we publish salary benchmarks which (almost) all employers meet or exceed, some by a large margin.”

Professor Thew said when coupled with a Transgrid $20,000 scholarship to cover expenses in their first year when they are full-time, it means Charles Sturt Engineering is a degree where students are financially quite independent all the way through their degree.

“By the time our students graduate, they already have four years of experience and significant connections to industry, and every graduate so far has secured an engineering job upon their graduation, yielding a 100 per cent employment rate,” he said.

Charles Sturt University also has a range of scholarships to assist students cover the costs of their placements.

One such program, which is part of the Australian Government’s Job-ready Graduates Package - the National Priorities and Industry Linkage Fund (NPILF) provides block grants to universities to support enhanced engagement with universities and industry to produce job-ready graduates.

Charles Sturt is offering a total of $150,000 NPILF Career Ready Grants to students in 2024 to assist them in completing work-integrated learning experiences. These grants are now live and ready for students to apply.

As Australia takes steps towards addressing ‘placement poverty’ in teacher education and other career paths, Charles Sturt University invites stakeholders, policymakers and the community to support transformative initiatives such as these.

For further information about paid placements for initial teacher education (ITE) students, please contact Dr Anne McLeod.


Media Note:

To arrange interviews with Professor John McDonald and Dr Anne McLeod, contact Bruce Andrews at Charles Sturt Media on mobile tel:0418669362  or via news@csu.edu.au

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