To celebrate International Volunteers Day 2019, University of Limerick along with 9 other universities and institutes of technology, have come together through the Campus Engage initiative to launch their first ever student volunteering annual report to highlight the activities and achievements of their students.
“Student volunteers play such a constructive role in communities, often providing vital services for excluded and vulnerable people. Volunteering is for all and that idea of inclusiveness translates into the work student volunteers do daily across the country. Today is a day to celebrate volunteers and our report highlights some of the students who are helping achieve a more inclusive future for all,” said Colm O’Hehir, Campus Engage Officer
An Impact Assessment of Irish Universities, conducted by economists Indecon, revealed that in 2017/18 over 17,500 student volunteers donated three million hours of their time to causes both at home and abroad, at an estimated value of €28.4 million to the exchequer.
Studentvolunteer.ie is an online tool that supports students wishing to volunteer in their communities. The portal is the first of its kind globally - a national volunteering database specifically created for higher education students. It was developed in 2016 by ten third level institutions through Campus Engage.
There are now more than 1,000 organisations and 14,000 students registered on the website, with over 4,000 new student registrations in the 2018-19 academic year. Through studentvolunteer.ie, new student volunteers have clocked up a total of 39,746 hours through volunteering opportunities promoted. Overall, students successfully volunteered for 3,391 opportunities.
A major contributor to volunteering in Limerick is the University of Limerick’s President’s Volunteer Award (PVA). Established in 2010 by the Community Liaison Office at UL, the President’s Volunteer Award mirrors UL’s ‘Home of Firsts’ culture, by being the first higher education student volunteer programme to formally acknowledge volunteering as significant in the life of our students and the contribution they make to their internal and external communities during the course of their academic studies.
As such the PVA’s robust criteria ensures that UL student volunteers commit to their chosen club, society, organisation and communities for a period of time as well as reflecting on this commitment and volunteer practice. A structured and resourced higher education volunteer programme like the PVA in addition to the on-line management system studentvolunteer.ie is a powerful example of meaningful and mutually beneficial collaborations between higher education institutions and their community.
To-date over 2,300 UL students have been awarded the PVA after contributing more than 137,000 volunteer hours to over 400 voluntary clubs, societies, organisations and communities.