Critical incident 05/08/21
Victorian Campuses closed until Friday 13 August and Brisbane Campus closed until Monday 9 August Click here for more information.

IBM partnership case study

The IBM-Federation University collaboration is a game-changer for our students, our people, our University, our community and for IBM.

Federation University Australia needed to ensure, especially given our regional location, that we were a University of Choice for existing and potential students, academic staff and researchers. We also wanted a global reputation as change makers.

From the beginning, we wanted a deep and strategic collaboration to create the new generation of IT professionals through:

  • providing students (past, current and future) access to a leading global tech supplier and employer to learn and maintain workforce-leading skills, experiences and networks – this has expanded beyond just a University focus to our groundbreaking work with local Year 7-12 students via the Australia-first P-TECH
  • enabling University leadership to collaborate with IBM to ensure their curriculum was relevant to industry needs and ‘future proof’ their graduates, maximising employment opportunities and the University’s reputation
  • creating employment and economic opportunities via a Technology Park.

In 1990, IBM faced growing skill shortages. The solution? We successfully secured IBM as our Ballarat Technology Parks’ foundation tenant in 1995, kick-starting a revolutionary partnership with wide-reaching benefit.

The Tech Parks now generate an estimated $300m each year, employ 2100-plus staff and host 64 businesses including the IBM IT services centre. IBM is one of the largest regional services employers in Australia, employing 800 people, and providing unprecedented benefits to our students and community.

Making a positive impact

Just some of the highlights of our partnership with IBM so far include:

  • Bachelor of Information Technology (Professional Practice) program (BIT (PP)) has produced approximately 360 graduates (both local students and international students) since beginning in 2001. All graduates have completed internships with IBM as part of their program.
  • Six undergraduate Business students have now begun internships with IBM.
  • Over 40 students have engaged with the P-TECH program to date.
  • A number of Federation University graduates have been hired to work locally and nationally with IBM over the duration of the relationship.

Partnership timeline

Our long-running relationship with IBM has enabled us to achieve a number of important milestones throughout the University’s history:




IBM Data Centre, Mt Helen opens


IBM Help desk, Mt Helen opens


‘Earn As you Learn’ (BIT (PP)) program begins


Regional Software Solutions Centre opens on-campus


IBM Client Services Centre created


IBM IT Services Centre begins operations


Curriculum in BIT(PP) program expanded for IBM


Graduate Certificate in Information Technology   (Professional Practice) begins.


University of Ballarat renamed Federation University   Australia with a new campus in Gippsland


IBM P-TECH program begins in Ballarat


BIT (PP) scholarships managed through Federation   University Scholarships program

BIT (PP) Curriculum reviewed and restructured


Federation University Business School undergraduate   student internships begin with IBM

BIT (PP) available online


BIT (PP) program expanded to Berwick, SE Melbourne

Scholarship for BIT (PP) is raised to total $38400

Selected P-TECH students commence six week internships   with IBM


Read what some of our partners, graduates and students have had to say about their experiences through Federation’s partnership with IBM.


The following quote from IBM is as an example of the value of the internship program from IBM’s perspective:

“IBM values its long-standing partnership with Federation University Australia.  IBM and its clients continue to benefit from student participation on projects adding to team diversity, fresh ideas and access to up-to-date skills. The work integrated learning programs are a win-win-win for IBM, the university and, most importantly, the students.”

Steve Davies, Client Innovation Centre Leader, IBM

The following quote is with regard to an international student, Sofia, who studied at Federation following studies in her home country, the Philippines. Sofia transferred into the Bachelor of Information Technology (Professional Practice) after a successful first year in the BIT program. Sofia completed her studies in 2017. IBM staff, when asked about Sofia said:

“Sofia has been a most welcome inclusion to the IMAC (Install, Move, Add, Change) Team via the internship Program.  She was willing to learn from the get go and showed enthusiasm in learning the responsibilities of the department and the BAU (Business As Usual) processes that go along with that.  Sofia is a fast learner and became very comfortable and confident with several services we provide to the business very early on and is more than capable and very much so trusted to manage multiple tickets and clients on a day to day basis.

Sofia is extremely reliable, professional and a pleasure to work with.  She has a lovely nature and this extends to her peers and clients and her overall performance within the team has always been of a high level and this shows in the success she has had in this role.

Additionally while other team members are away, Sofia can step in and update the client without any hand-holding from senior team members, and always stays on top of her own queue without issues.”

Bachelor of Information Technology (Professional Practice) graduates

The IBM partnership has made a positive impact on recent graduates of Federation’s Bachelor of Information Technology (Professional Placement):

"The Professional Practice program gave me a graduate experience before I had even graduated. The program jump-started my career with so many different opportunities to learn and grow as an IT professional in a real world environment. While the IBM partnership made my university experience feel supported and unique."

Elizabeth Pellow (2018 Graduate), Business Transformation Consultant, IBM Canberra

"I consider myself very lucky to have been in the Professional Practice program. I worked very hard in my internship and received multiple job offers upon completion. I had a greater opportunity to learn about various aspects of IT such as mainframes and programming and received practical experience which I could not receive through studying alone. As a mature age student, this was especially valuable and allowed me to re-enter the workforce"

“As part of the program, I worked in an internship with IBM as a mainframe systems programmer. I found the internship extremely challenging and interesting, as mainframes are quite complex and difficult. It generally takes years to become competent with mainframes, and this internship provides a head start. I greatly appreciate the opportunities the internship has provided, and I enrolled in this degree because it included an internship. Being part of this program has provided me with invaluable work experience.”

Catherine (Cat) Vance (2018 Graduate, University Medallist) Current role: IT Specialist, IBM Ballarat

Following his graduation, Tate accepted a role working at IBM in Ballarat. He has been in various roles since graduation including developer and testing roles:

"The Professional Practice degree is great way to kick start a career in IT. The on the job learning gives you the opportunity to apply the learning's of a university education at an enterprise level. This gives a Professional Practice graduate a tangible advantage over any other candidate."

Tate Lesko (2007 Graduate), Incident Management Lead, IBM Ballarat

Following his graduation, Ben moved to work with IBM in Canberra. Ben has now returned to work in IBM Ballarat:

"My career has benefitted massively by using the Professional Practice course to build relationships and confidence while still studying.  This meant I could hit the ground running as a graduate and focus on building my skills as I could skip the "getting to know IBM and the corporate world" period of being a new graduate.  This then accelerates your career as it puts you above other graduates and gives you a better chance to get the roles you desire as a graduate."

Ben Barker (2007 Graduate), Application Developer, IBM Ballarat

P-TECH students

IBM is a major sponsor of P-TECH, which provides an alternative learning pathway for secondary school students interested in technology. With IBM’s support, P-TECH has provided school students with important skills to help make them career-ready:

“P-TECH has opened my eyes a lot. I have enjoyed learning about technology. It has given us a lot of opportunities to see what it is really like in the workplace and to help me become more employable.”

“I am loving being part of something real with real outcomes. IBM has given us so much information to learn about and it’s been fun. It is great to be challenged by what I am learning and to learn about my skills and strengths.”