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Business and the Ethics of Education.
Salacious Sam

Given the current state of the tertiary education in Australia, one could be forgiven if they assumed that the learning that occurs in our tertiary institutions has no ethical component. Today's topic is on work placement, business and the ethics surrounding both.

Currently all 3rd year RMIT Planning Students are, or will commence job placement as part of the course in a variety of settings ranging from Local Government to private practice. The process of job allocation is set up to closely mirror the 'real world' in that students must apply in writing to several employers in the hope of gaining an interview. However, the process is inherently flawed from the outset. The overall process is as follows:

1-Work Experience Office at RMIT places 1st round placements up for students to look at around mid November (placement commences the following Feb).
2-Students are then allowed a maximum of 5 preferred organizations. These must be ranked in order with an accompanying ‘why I want to work here’ note.
3-The Work Placement Office then allocates 2-3 organizations to each student. Allocation is based on GPA with students ‘competing’ against each other. Already the simulated market is taking shape.
4-Once students receive their 2-3 options for placement, it is then expected that they will contact each of these organizations to request an interview. CVs are attached to cover letters and then the hopeful applicants must wait.

It is at this stage that the students leave the supposed safe environment of the university and take their chances in the real world of the job market.

5-Students now wait for each organization to contact them and schedule an interview. Depending on which organization students are engaged with, some will receive calls within a matter of weeks while some must wait until after the Christmas break.
6-Interviews are held, with generally 2-4 students ‘competing’ against each other for a single placement. Students are now judged on personal character, experience and presentation, rather than just on grades alone.
7-The process following these interviews is the standard process any employer would follow. After a successful interview, a student will be contacted and will (on most occasions) accept the offer of the placement.

Now there are, as I have been told repeatedly, many students who don’t get accepted to a placement in the 1st round. These poor unfortunates must then go through the same process in the 2nd round of offers that generally appear after the new year.

Students are urged to take the first placement they are offered, with the fair understanding that all students have been through the nominated process of writing cover letters, attending interviews and the like. Additionally, students are told not to seek other avenues of work outside the prescribed RMIT method.

As it stands, the system is flawed and deserving students are missing out because other students see it fit to muscle their way into placements that they do not deserve.

Planning 16th February, 2005 23:23:03   [#] 


And then there are people like me who manage to get a planning job not because of connections but simply on a mixture of good luck and other marketable skills, who were 'inelligible' for work placement due to a lack of credit points.

As with having to complete Origins & Developments of Planning after failing Sustainable City Planning, I seem to feel that the more I fail stuff and the more I fall behind, the better off I will be compared with my 3rd year classmates - due to the continual changes being made to this program. By the time I get to doing work placement they may even change their minds about letting us organise our own placements.
Aaron Hewett  19th February, 2005 12:31:56  

By the book
I think the main problem with attempting to organise your own placement is the issue of insurance. I know of a few other people who have been able to organise their own planning related jobs but have been subsequently told that they have to go through RMIT's process.

Personally using the insurance argument is a weak excuse. Employers are aware of insurance, RMIT just wants to have control over placements. Yes, I think I'll do my placement in BENDIGO! Bravo RMIT for giving up so many options.

By the way, Salacious Sam, who are you?
Tom Anderson  19th February, 2005 12:44:35  

It is a weak argument... considering that even though you're doing work placement - you're still EMPLOYED by these agencies - therefore you should be covered by workcover. Am I right?
Aaron Hewett  19th February, 2005 12:52:29  


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