An Exploration of Volunteer Experiences for Third Level Students in Ireland from a Student Volunteer and Volunteer Manager Perspective.
Civic and Community Engagement
Politics and Social Change
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AbstractSince the establishment of Campus Engage in 2007, student volunteering and student-led activities have received more attention on a national scale. Despite this, the area remains under researched; to date there has been no nationwide review of student volunteerism. This research aimed to explore the volunteer experiences of third level students across in a number of Higher Education Institutions in Ireland. For this qualitative study, in-depth interviews were carried out with five student volunteers and three volunteer managers across a spectrum of voluntary activity. The participants were asked to discuss their personal experiences and perceptions of student volunteering. The findings suggest the students thoroughly enjoyed their volunteering roles and felt supported by the volunteer managers and host organisations, similarly the volunteer managers and their organisations benefited from having student volunteers. While the students and volunteer managers that took part in this study were overwhelmingly positive about their experiences of student volunteering, this study recommends three policy and practice related action points to further improve the student volunteer experience: the implementation of robust recruitment policies by host organisations, the introduction of volunteer recognition programmes across all HE institutions and the immediate reform of the Garda Vetting procedure. In addition, this study recommended that future research into student volunteering should include the experiences of specific student cohorts including international students, students with disabilities, mature students and students from different socioeconomic and cultural backgrounds.
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