University of Waikato’s Work-Integrated Learning wins three awards

The University’s Work-Integrated Learning initiative has collected three awards at two conferences held in April.

07 May 2024

The University of Waikato’s Work-Integrated Learning initiative, which embeds employability through degrees, has collected three awards at two conferences held in April.  

Academics, researchers and professionals from across the tertiary sector gathered for the Work-Integrated Learning (WIL) International Conference 2024, Thriving Together: Partners and Practice over three days in Wellington.  

(L-R): Pro Vice-Chancellor of Teaching and Learning, Associate Professor Tracy Bowell, WIL Programme Lead Tauranga, Lee Martin, WIL Manager, Dr Sandy Muller, Associate Professor Karsten Zegwaard, WIL System Manager, Natasha Miller and WIL Project Lead Dr Gail Hutcheson.

The Impact Lab won the inaugural Work-Integrated Learning New Zealand (WILNZ) Innovation and Excellence Award and The Impact Lab was also shortlisted for the Global QS Sustainable Education Award earlier this year.  

A core resource in the international WIL community, ‘The Routledge International Handbook of Work-Integrated Learning’, won the inaugural WILNZ Research Excellence Award, as well as the Ralph Tyler Award at the Cooperative Education and Internship Association conference held in the United States, that same day.  

University of Waikato Director of WIL Research, Associate Professor Karsten Zegwaard and Dr Judene Pretti, from the University of Waterloo, Canada, compiled the third edition handbook in partnership with 96 authors from across the world. 

Associate Professor Zegwaard and Dr Pretti have both separately won the award before, with only one other person, former University of Waikato Professor Richard Coll, to have won the award twice over the 50-year award history.  

Both awards for the Handbook are great recognition of all the authors that contributed to creating this valuable resource. Along with the award for The Impact Lab, it indicates the strength of WIL at the University of Waikato

Associate Professor Karsten Zegwaard 

The Impact Lab is a unique WIL course and has about 80 students every year from across all disciplines engaging in multidisciplinary group projects based around the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals. 

There have been more than 50 projects so far, each partnering with external stakeholders, and has included developing concepts for repurposing waste plywood material from campervan construction, low CO2 neighbourhoods, developing iwi knowledge into a learning resource, and incentivising higher vehicle occupancy rates to reduce CO2 emissions.    

The WIL papers within degrees provide students with authentic hands-on experience to develop and extend their workplace skills, critical thinking, innovation, and communication while building relevant connections within our communities. 

WIL is a compulsory component of all Waikato’s undergraduate degrees and is broadly divided into two categories: work placements and work-related projects. It allows organisations the benefit of fresh perspectives and ideas, an additional pair of hands, and opportunities for recruitment and growth. 

“WIL provides students with enhanced employability outcomes and an opportunity to put into practice what they have learnt on campus into a real context - WIL often is the highlight of their learning whilst at University,” says Associate Professor Zegwaard. 



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