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Each year, we use surveys and other data collection techniques to measure our impacts and gauge the quality of our services. These are summarised in our Annual Review.

Volunteer Numbers

In 2018/19 we recruited and supported 2209 UCL student volunteers.

Overall they gave 63,400 hours of time to communities around London.

Read our review of 2018-19 for the full picture.

Impacts on communities

In our survey of our community partners, we asked about the ways in which UCL students had made an impact. 77% said they had strengthened bonds within the community, and 69% said they’d improved the health & wellbeing of others. 56% said our students had improved access to educational opportunities, and 44% said they’d improved access to the labour market.

Organisations generally agreed that UCL volunteers produce work of high quality and have useful skills / knowledge. 65% felt they’d helped diversify their pool of volunteers.

Where UCL students Volunteer

Students are most likely to volunteer in Camden, with Westminister and Islington the next most popular boroughs. The number of students volunteering in one of the 5 east London Olympic boroughs increased – they now represent 21% of our volunteers, giving 13100 hours of their time.

Read the full breakdown of volunteering by borough

Impacts on students

In our annual student survey, we took an in-depth look at the impact of volunteering on student wellbeing. Significant numbers said that through volunteering they’d learned something new, felt more connected with other people, and had got a greater sense of purpose, amongst other impacts, amongst other benefits..

We also asked students about the impact on employability and on their studies. 55% of volunteers felt that their participation had improved their chances of paid employment, and half said that their volunteering had given them insights into their degree.

Students who volunteered on projects supported by the Volunteering Service reported higher satisfaction than students volunteering elsewhere – this is consistent with the results from 17/18. The gap is widest when looking at training, feeling supported, and emergency procedures.

Our Services

We rate satisfaction by looking at the percentage of students saying a particular service is ‘good’ or ‘very good’. Student satisfaction is generally on a par with previous surveys – ranging between 62% and 84%, with an average of 79%. 

When asked an open question about what they disliked about the Volunteering Service, the most popular answer was ‘nothing’. Beyond that, the most frequent complaints were about the range of opportunities, a lack of a personalised service, and need for more support in finding volunteering.

However, it’s worth noting that when asked what they most liked, after our newsletter the most popular types of comments were around the range of opportunities, and the supportive and helpful nature of our service. It’s clear that we’re serving one group of students very well, and a smaller group less well.

A small survey of leaders on our Student-led Volunteering programme indicated good levels of satisfaction with the support they had received. 88% rated admin support, 90% rated support in building partnerships, and 94% rated support meetings as good or very good.

Recruiters are generally satisfied with our services; our networking events, communications and advice and assistance were particularly well rated. When asked an open question about what they liked, ease of use, good communications and the helpfulness were the comments that stood out. When asked about dislikes, ‘Nothing’ was again the most popular answer, with administrative issues or poor response to adverts from students the most frequently cited problems.

Find out more in our student survey and partners survey.

Who volunteers?

As in previous years, Women, Undergraduates, and students from outside the EU/EEA were more likely to volunteer.

The following groups of students were also more likely to volunteer:

  • Students with disabilities.
  • UK students of non-white ethnic origin.
  • International students of Indian ethnic origin.
  • UK Undergraduates from neighbourhoods with lower participation rates in higher education.

As in previous years, students in Medicine, Life Sciences and Law faculties were keen volunteers, with students from the Faculty of the Built Environment least likely to volunteer.

In our student survey, we asked those respondents who hadn’t volunteered whether there was anything we could have done to help them. 21% said there wasn’t anything we could have done, 19% said they didn’t have enough time to volunteer, and 15% said we need to improve our publicity.

Read our participation report

Impact on UCL

In 2018/19, we provided 80% of academic departments with information about volunteering opportunities relevant to their students’ courses.

We also provide advice and support about volunteering issues in general and can help build links with London’s voluntary & community sector. In 2018/19 we supported 41 colleagues in 38 different departments with 49 distinct requests, such as advice about their own volunteering programmes, publicising UCL activities to the voluntary & community sector.

In addition to this one-to-one support, we co-organised two ‘Creating Connections’ networking events in partnership with UCL Public Engagement Unit, bringing together UCL staff and representatives of community organisations.

Community Research Initiative for Students

The Community Research Initiative for Students (CRIS) exists to enhance the experience of UCL’s postgraduate (taught) students (PGT) by supporting them to undertake their dissertation in collaboration with a not-for-profit organisation. CRIS formally started on 11 November 2018 when the Community Research Manager took up her post. The rest of 2018/19 focussed on developing the programme infrastructure, establishing links with UCL departments and relevant community organisations, and engaging with a trial cohort of PGT students.

Read the full CRIS evaluation report.

If you’d like to know more about our surveys and reports, please feel free to get in touch.