Macquarie's multi award-winning PACE initiative is a signature program which underpins the University's culture of transformative learning. PACE is a core strategy aimed at improving the employability of Macquarie graduates.
Based on the principle of reciprocity, the PACE program provides a range of experiential and practice based opportunities for undergraduate students to learn in the real world. Students are engaged in authentic business, social, and ethical challenges, working with partner organisations across Australia and around the world.
The PACE experience prepares students to transition into the workplace and remain agile in an increasingly complex global environment. Through PACE students gain industry expertise and develop vital transferable skills like communication, critical thinking, cultural competence, problem solving, and team work.
The scope, scale and diversity of PACE sets it apart from practical experience programs at other universities. PACE is fully embedded within a rigorous academic framework and curriculum. We collaborate with a vast network of partner organisations from the business, government, non-government, and not-for-profit community sectors.
A few key facts about PACE
Over 30,000 students have completed a PACE unit
87 PACE units currently offered across 5 faculties
over 3,000 PACE organisations across all sectors of the economy
The PACE Evaluation project, begun in 2017, assesses the impact and effectiveness of the PACE program for students, partners, the University, and the community more broadly. The institution-wide evaluation was made possible through the collaboration, commitment, and support of stakeholders across and beyond Macquarie University.
The evaluation was designed to:
Ensure that PACE was accountable to internal and external stakeholders by producing credible evidence on outcomes for students, partners, the University, and the broader community.
Establish collaborative and reflective learning processes that can be used to continuously enhance and develop the PACE program.
Develop sustainable evaluation activities by embedding data collection tools and processes into PACE program delivery.
Find out more
Find the full report and information sheets under Resources
See the next steps for the PACE program in Next Steps
The evaluation project considered both the processes (how well the program is being implemented) and the outcomes (what impact the program is having) of PACE. It focused on the following five high level questions.
For further information, please download the full report and summaries:
This evaluation provides strong evidence for the effectiveness and impact of the PACE program for students and partners. Feedback provided by students and partners in the surveys is valuable information that will be used to enhance the program. Moving forward, the PACE program will take the following actions.
Continue to provide all undergraduates with an opportunity to undertake a professional experience as part of their degree.
Look at ways to further increase students’ career readiness and professional networks.
Provide further opportunities for students to undertake a PACE activity in an area of professional interest and/or disciplinary area wherever possible.
Support the development of PACE activities with clear objectives, roles and responsibilities.
Work closely with partners to ensure that PACE activities provide mutually beneficial outcomes for partner organisations, students and the community more broadly.
Following institution-wide implementation of the PACE program in 2016, this question examines how many students and partners are engaged in the PACE program, how many PACE activities have been completed, and the characteristics of PACE activities.
22,669 enrolments in PACE units
42% of students enrolled in more than one PACE unit
4,972 PACE activities completed
246 PACE International activities completed
54% of PACE students undertook a university-based activity
41% of PACE students undertook an internship or mentoring
Drawing on student, partner, and University stakeholder feedback, this question assesses how effectively the program is being implemented using three evaluation criteria: program experience, professional and community engagement, and learning and teaching.
Professional and community experience
Learning and teaching
PACE is relevant for both students and partners.
Students and partners are highly satisfied with their PACE experiences.
PACE excels at providing a personalised and bespoke program support to students and partners.
Evidence shows that PACE teams and Unit Convenors are monitoring activities, however mainly reactively. This needs improvement.
PACE provides students and partners with timely and effective information. Ongoing challenges with Macquarie student systems need addressing.
PACE is providing students with opportunities to develop career readiness and active citizenship.
PACE is providing students with opportunities to apply the skills, knowledge or theories learnt at university.
Most PACE activities are in an area of professional interest to students.
Students and partners are effectively prepared for the PACE Activity.
Students were highly satisfied with the support they received from their supervisor in the partner organisation.
PACE units and activities are being undertaken within an academically rigorous framework to develop the capacity and capabilities of students.
In response to the items which were a Learning and Teaching Unit Evaluation requirement at Macquarie University, 8 out of 10 were rated in the highest category.
Students rated the reflection and debriefing components of the PACE unit the lowest.
Students agreed that the support they received from academic staff was helpful.
This question identifies program components that have been critical to ensuring that the PACE program is effective and sustainable at scale, as well as the main barriers to program implementation, by analysing student survey data and interviews and workshops with University stakeholders.
Critical program components
Partner preparation, activity matching, induction
Quality of learning and teaching in the PACE unit
Professional experience embedded in curriculum
Recognition of workload for University staff
Faculty integration to ensure the PACE program is relevant across disciplines and Faculties
Faculty-based PACE teams with central support
Leadership and governance to embed PACE within the Faculties and the broader University environment
The need for a University-wide coordinated approach to professional practice and employability initiatives
The need for a University-wide coordinated strategic approach to partnership management to capitalise on the strong partnership base that PACE has established and provide students with ongoing professional opportunities, as well as build research and corporate engagement/collaborations
Reconfiguration of resources to sustain and grow the program
The need for University-wide co-ordinated communication and systems, to increase students' awareness of PACE
This question assesses the effectiveness of the PACE program in terms outcomes for students, graduates, partners, the University and the community.
Graduate employment outcomes
There is strong evidence that PACE increased students’ professional practice, job seeking, commencement confidence and active citizenship.
PACE is impacting some of students’ most important goals, e.g. gaining professional experience and developing discipline specific knowledge and skills.
A substantial proportion of students agreed that PACE had improved their employability. Partners agreed that PACE helped to prepare student/s for their future transition to employment and that students were ready to commence in their field or discipline.
A substantial proportion of students agreed that PACE had a positive impact across all active citizenship and career dimensions. However, students rated the impact of PACE on their citizenship slightly higher than career readiness.
There is strong evidence to suggest that PACE is contributing to graduates entering full-time work, their first full-time job and overall graduate employment.
From 2016-18, 77% of graduates who completed a PACE unit were in full-time employment four months after course completion, compared to 67% of students who did not do PACE.
86% of graduates who completed a PACE unit were in full-time employment twelve months after course completion, compared to 77% of the non-PACE cohort.
PACE graduates were more likely to agree that their qualifications had prepared them for employment and that their qualification was related to their job.
Partner and community outcomes
There is strong evidence that PACE is contributing to mutually beneficial outcomes for partners and the community more broadly.
Students are providing critical support for key projects and are producing a range of tangible outputs.
Partners also reported that a benefit of PACE was being able to make a positive community impact, engage with the University, and give back to the industry and profession.
Some students were providing critical support to community organisations and working directly with local communities.
There is strong evidence that PACE is having a substantial impact on student and graduate outcomes and is contributing to industry and community initiatives, which in turn is a significant outcome for the University.
Macquarie University is seen as a leader in work-integrated learning, which is seen as an important differentiator in terms of student marketing and recruitment, as well as the University’s reputation in the wider community.
PACE was also viewed as a crucial interface between the University, industry and community.
This question explores if there were any differences in outcomes and experiences by comparing different student groups and PACE experiences.
Different PACE experiences
Different student groups
All students, regardless of the type of PACE experience, reported significant changes in their professional practice, job seeking, commencement readiness and citizenship.
Students who completed a PACE internship reported significantly greater outcome changes in terms of Professional Practice, Commencement Confidence, Active Citizenship and Job Seeking, compared to students who did a university-based activity.
There were minimal differences in full-time employment trends when comparing graduates who completed a PACE internship to graduates who did a university-based activity.
Graduates who did multiple PACE units were significantly more likely to be in full-time employment compared to students who did one unit, as well as the non-PACE cohort, four and twelve months after course completion.
Students who completed a small PACE unit (<40 enrolments) rated the Impact of PACE and Student Satisfaction items significantly higher than students who complete a large unit.
At the end of PACE, students who did a PACE International Activity rated the Professional Practice and Active Citizenship items significantly higher than students who did not, and rated the impact of PACE and Student Satisfaction items higher.
All student groups reported significant changes in their professional practice, job seeking, commencement readiness and citizenship
When comparing student groups, there were no significant differences in how students rated the Impact of PACE or Student Satisfaction items or the employability items.
In terms of Learner Experience of PACE, the only significant difference was that medium and low SES students were significantly more likely to rate these items more highly than high SES students.
Students who were not mature age reported greater changes in Commencement Readiness and Professional Practice compared to mature age students.
At the end of PACE, domestic students rated their Professional Practice and Active Citizenship significantly higher than international students.
At the end of PACE students who had previous work experience rated the Job Seeking and Active Citizenship items significantly higher than students who had no previous experience.