Funding for work-integrated learning heads straight to students’ pockets

Brock students are receiving an extra bonus for their work-integrated learning (WIL) courses.

The University is set to receive and distribute more than $500,000 to students, as well as employer and community partners, who took part in work-integrated learning projects during Winter Term.

Funded in part by the Government of Canada’s Innovative Work-Integrated Learning Initiative (IWIL) and Co-operative Education and Work-Integrated Learning (CEWIL) Canada’s Innovation Hub (iHub), the money will be used to provide financial support to more than 2,000 students across 54 academic courses.

In Assistant Professor Colin Rose’s History course, Co-operative Historical Projects, this has meant a surprise bonus for each student that worked throughout the term to build a public resource website about the Canadian experience during the 1918 flu pandemic.

For their efforts tracking down digitized records of experiences, legislation and other content online and preparing it to be displayed, each member of the team will receive a $200 stipend, which Rose says validates their work.

“They are a motivated group anyway, but the stipend will give them a sense that there is value in public history service,” said Rose. “They can see the resources we are creating are appreciated and respected by funding bodies and the community as well.”

After contributing and proofreading several sections of the website, first-year History student Owen Urquhart said the funds provided a mental boost as well as a financial one.

“It confirms the importance of what we are learning in school,” he said. “Hearing we would each receive some money helped give us the extra drive we needed to finish the project.”

Brock’s Interim Director of Co-op, Career and Experiential Education Sandy Howe said the funding, which was part of $8.8 million distributed on a first-come, first-served basis to post-secondary institutions across the country, allows Brock to further enhance its reputation for student-centred experiential learning.

“What an incredible opportunity for students to be compensated for high-quality work-integrated learning at the undergraduate and graduate level,” she said. “These funds represent another step forward in this area and are thanks to faculty, students, staff and community leaders all working together.”

The funding is available to Canadian students, and the University has stepped up to ensure international students also receive equal opportunities to take part in funded WIL opportunities in any course.

Lynn Wells, Brock’s Provost and Vice-President, Academic, said the government funding furthers the University’s commitment to teaching and learning and providing an excellent student experience.

“These funds continue to support Brock’s goals to provide a classroom environment where learning can be brought to life by instructors who bridge theory and practice while also helping students to prepare for the next steps in their careers,” she said.

Local Members of Parliament Vance Badawey, from Niagara Centre, and Chris Bittle, from St. Catharines, were both pleased to see funding from the Government of Canada going to students who participated in work-integrated learning projects.

“As a government, we are proud to help ensure students are prepared for the workforce during their time at Brock University by gaining the experiential skills that work-integrated learning provides,” said Badawey. “Students make valuable contributions to their fields and to their community, and I am pleased that Brock University is able to reward these students for these efforts.”

Bittle highlighted the importance of “taking what students learn in the classroom and making the connection to work in the real world.”

“The Innovative Work-Learning Initiative provides the opportunity for students to be financially rewarded for the important contributions they make in their respective fields,” he said. “This helps students as they prepare to enter an uncertain job market, but it also helps them further their pursuit of academic-focused research benefitting themselves as well as the community at large.”

Brock has already applied for a second round of funding, which will be distributed in time for the Spring/Summer Term, with a third round of funding applications set to take place mid-June for the Fall 2021 Term.

The opinions and interpretations in this publication are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of the Government of Canada or Co-operative Education and Work-Integrated Learning Canada.

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