Online student volunteering platform to be led by University of Limerick, scaling up its offering as part of new phase
- 18,000 students on average already engaged in volunteering, with economic value of close to €30m per year
- International Volunteer Day is celebrated on December 5
An online student volunteering platform boasting 20,000 students among its ranks is taking a major step forward with plans to expand its service.
University of Limerick (UL) will lead StudentVolunteer.ie into its next phase, scaling the service offering to all higher education institutions across Ireland and attracting new strategic partnerships. UL was selected following a competitive process to lead the platform, management of which is transferring from the Irish Universities Association (IUA), with several university partners from across the sector. University College Dublin, University College Cork, Technological University of Dublin, University of Galway, together with UL, will utilise the platform to maximise the impact of student volunteering in Ireland, which has seen an average of 18,000 students engaged in volunteering with an economic value of close to €30 million per year.
There are already 20,000 students registered on Studentvolunteer.ie, which was launched in 2016 as an online platform to match student volunteers with community action projects and to work in partnership with local, and global nonprofit organisations. The ambition for the platform is to significantly scale numbers, societal and economic impact based on the proven approach that has been developed by UL, UCD, UCC, TUD and University of Galway to date.
The announcement coincides with International Volunteer Day on December 5, and UL’s annual President’s Volunteer Award (PVA) Ceremony at which an impressive 530 UL students are receiving awards.
Speaking about the new leadership role for StudentVolunteer.ie, Chair of IUA and President of University of Limerick, Professor Kerstin Mey said:
“We are very ambitious about the next phase of this valuable service. UL has always put community engagement at the heart of our mission. Our Irish and international student volunteers act as role models for our at-risk children and young people and are essential to running community programmes and delivering local community-based services.
At UL we place a high value on student volunteering which is reflected in our annual President’s Volunteer Awards. Students also directly benefit from volunteering, growing in confidence and gaining work-ready skills such as teamwork, project management, public speaking and more.”
The next phase for StudentVolunteer.ie will be led by Ireland’s prominent expert in student volunteering, Dr Lorraine Tansey, who launched and scaled the hugely successful ALIVE Programme in University of Galway, running for nineteen years. Lorraine is recognised globally as a champion for pushing student volunteering practice and impact to new summits.
Dr Tansey is also currently a member of Ireland’s National Volunteer Strategy Implementation Group and will be taking up a post in UL as part of the expansion. Dr Tansey said:
“I am driven by the student appetite for hands-on opportunities to make an impact and change within communities. I know from an abundance of evidence, that student volunteering has profound and lasting positive effects on students during their university experience. Volunteering gives students a sense of purpose, fuels ambition to address disadvantage in community settings, supports active citizenship and safeguards against isolation and disengagement.”
Kate Morris, Irish Universities Association, said:
“Evidence from the 2023 Student Engagement indicates we are greatly underserving a demand for volunteering opportunities from universities, technological universities and institutes of technology students, at all levels.
The time is right to move from proof-of-concept to full-scale implementation of StudentVolunteer.ie across every campus and community in Ireland. To do this the system needs, and deserves, dedicated expert leadership, and greater involvement of students working at the frontline and on campus.”
Alongside the 20,000 students already registered on the portal, there are 945 community-based organisation staff actively posting, and 298,569 hours logged as volunteered by students, across Irish rural and urban community settings, delivering services and generating funds to keeps community services operating. This next phase will increase the level and intensity of engagement with students, community-based organisations, government and corporate sponsors across the regions; and better link the StudentVolunteer.ie service and platform with national and global volunteering infrastructures.
For media queries and more information contact:
Dr Lorraine Tansey, StudentVolunteer.ie Project Manager
Some of the ways students are giving back to local communities and supporting frontline community services:
1) UCC student volunteers rallied together to support a social media campaign to raise over €500,000 in donations for a new respite service for the Julian Benson Cystic Fibrosis Foundation. The money raised now provides respite and accommodation for families visiting people during the pandemic with cystic fibrosis. The service provides support for many vulnerable people from all over Ireland, who cannot afford expensive accommodation in Dublin when they travel to care for their loved ones in hospital for medical treatment.
2) In Moyross, a suburb and council estate in Limerick city, a Community of Franciscan Friars, the Monks of Moyross, work with UL students on an afterschool service and homework club for local junior and senior school children. This partnership provides all students with an opportunity to meet, chat and learn about opportunities within higher education, share their dreams and explore together their lives, experiences and possibilities in higher education.
3) Across the west of Ireland, the Mincéirs Misl’d in Education project works to develop an inclusive programme that empowers the Travelling community to identify and overcome barriers to access, progress, and stay in higher education. Grinds4Mincéirs offers Junior Cycle, Leaving Certificate and Leaving Certificate Applied (LCA) students from the Irish Traveller community with additional support for exam subjects. The Traveller students are located in counties Galway, Mayo and Sligo with grinds delivered online. Evidence shows that this work leads to personal resilience and social development of people who are economically and socially disadvantaged.