The Australian Universities Accord Panel has recommended the federal government pay students for compulsory workplace placements that form part of a degree.

It comes after a survey commissioned by the Australian Council of Heads of School of Social Work found a third of students lost their entire weekly income due to compulsory university placement. Another 25% of the cohort lost up to 75% of their regular wage.

Professor Christine Morley led the research team late last year and said students were forced to choose between putting petrol in their car or putting food on the table.

“Ninety-six per cent [of students] said they didn’t have money for food or medications or basic other household necessities,” Professor Morley said.

UOW Nursing student Gemma Shepherd has been saving money for her placement since she started her course.

“I’ve been saving since first year to pay for petrol,” Ms Shepherd said,

“You can’t work during placement.”

The Australian Universities Accord Report says “the Australian Government [should] work with higher education providers and employers to introduce payment for unpaid placements.”