To mark national Student Volunteering Week, which runs from 23 February to 1 March, students from across the country will participate in events organised by colleges, universities and fellow students to showcase the diverse volunteering undertaken by students, along with its value to the community, education institutions, the economy - and their employability.
Student Volunteering Week is the national celebration of student volunteering across further and higher education. Established in 2001 to coincide with International Year of Volunteers, the event has grown in size and significance to reflect the increased importance of student volunteers themselves.
The theme this year is “Celebrating Success; Overcoming Challenges”, which encapsulates the achievements of student volunteering and its role within education. It also recognises the lack of funding available to institutions to provide voluntary experience, at a time when it has increased in value as more and more graduates struggle to secure employment.
Not only does the voluntary action of students contribute over £42m to the UK’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) each year – with each student giving an average of 82 hours a year in voluntary service – but student volunteering is also a source of conciliation and can help build positive relationships in communities made up of students and permanent residents.
In the midst of recession, it is unsurprising that graduate recruiters can afford to be particularly selective, demanding more skills and experience from students and graduates to fill fewer graduate positions; "For the class of 2009 it's going to be more difficult than they ever banked on," said Carl Gilleard, chief executive of the Association of Graduate Recruiters. However, student volunteering can enable students to accrue course credits and enhance their learning experience. Many students volunteer for course credits or undertake a module with a community-based learning component where they complete a project with a charity, reflect upon their learning in an academically rigorous manner and articulate the CV benefits. Gap years are another area where volunteering can enhance the experience.
It is also possible to take on virtual volunteering positions, where you can help a charity without leaving your home and computer: perhaps volunteering at a Macmillan Coffee Morning in Second Life or designing a website for a community group.
Graduate recruiters, colleges, universities and the Government have all articulated the value of student volunteering, so it is hardly surprising that your average students will approach it with their CV in mind; when better to do so than during Student Volunteering Week?
For more information about Volunteering England’s student volunteering work, visit www.volunteeringengland.org or contact Andrea Grace Rannard, head of student volunteering, on 020-7520 8922 or at Andrea.Rannard@volunteeringengland.org