Bursting the Bubble: Students, Volunteering and the Community

A major new study published by the National Coordinating Centre for Public Engagement (NCCPE) confirms the significant contribution shaping the way 
universities engage with community and civic life.

In one of the largest studies of student volunteering in England to date – involving over 8,000 students and graduates across six universities in England – the research delivered by the Institute for Volunteering 
Research reveals that Universities are making a major contribution to society through their student volunteers:

· 63% of current students report taking part in formal volunteering since starting university, with over half of volunteers doing so both during term-time and in vacations and a third volunteering at least once a week;

· Over a third (38%) of student volunteers started volunteering for the first time at university; Two thirds (67%) of volunteers believed volunteering whilst at university had increased their willingness to volunteer in the future.

· Volunteer-involving organisations value the relationships they have built up with universities and see them as valuable sources of talent, time and 
enthusiasm with students being sought out for specific skills, knowledge and expertise.

The research also demonstrated that the infrastructure established in universities to support volunteering makes a big difference to the quality and 
impact of the volunteering that goes on, with student volunteers who receive 
from their university being more satisfied with the experience of volunteering 
and deriving greater personal development benefits.

In response to the research, journalist and presenter Jon Snow said:
“Higher education has always been about much more than simply getting a degree. 
Universities have a vital role to play in supporting social, intellectual and 
cultural life in the UK through their engagement with the public. This report 
makes a persuasive case for the significant contribution that volunteering can 
make to the core purposes of higher education”.

Further results from this major new study highlight that student volunteering 
can enrich the lives of the volunteers themselves, developing their skills and 
confidence, enhancing their opportunities in the graduate market and fostering 
a lifelong commitment to volunteering:
85% of students said that engaging in volunteering increased their 
communication skills;

· 79 % said it had increased their confidence in their own abilities 
and 77% said that it increased their understanding of other people;

78 % of recent graduates under 30 years old talked about volunteering in 

· 51% of recent graduates under 30 who are in paid work say that 
volunteering helped them to secure employment;

The National Coordinating Centre for Public Engagement’s vinspired students 
programme funded by v, The National Service was set up to investigate the 
impact of volunteering on students, communities and institutions and to 
demonstrate the unique contribution that universities can make to their local 
community through the strategic management of volunteering.

On the 7th and 8th December 2010 the National Coordinating Centre for Public 
Engagement will launch the manifesto for Public Engagement at its National 
Conference in London. The manifesto, which draws on wide ranging evidence and 
research including this study, highlights how public engagement enriches the 
teaching and research at universities, and is a call for universities to ensure 
that they continue to play a central role within their community and the public 

For further information about our work or to download a copy of this report 
please visit our website: http://www.publicengagement.ac.uk/


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