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Volunteering service impact infographic

Volunteer Numbers

In 2017/18, we recruited and supported our highest ever number of volunteers – 2263, a 6% rise on the previous year.

Overall they gave 62,400 hours of time to communities around London.

Impacts on communities

In our survey of our community partners, we asked about the ways in which UCL students had made an impact. 86% said that our students had improved the wellbeing of others, and 82% said they had strengthened bonds within the community. Impacts upon participation in sport or cultural activities and upon access to education were cited by around half of our partners.

Young people, children and older people were the most frequent beneficiaries of UCL student volunteering, though there was a fairly wide spread of other groups.

Organisations generally agreed that UCL volunteers produce work of high quality and have useful skills / knowledge. 72% felt they’d helped diversify their pool of volunteers.

For Student-Led Projects, the vast majority of projects were with children and/or young people. They engaged 4800 people in total. Three quarters of leaders felt they’d met all of their initial outcomes, and half felt they’d generated additional outcomes.

Read our survey of our community partners.

Impacts on students

Our survey of students this year focussed upon skills development – specifically skills identified as being valuable for graduate employment. 91% of volunteers said they had become better at understanding other people. 88% had become better at collaborating with others, and 85% had improved their professional communication skills.

We also asked students questions about their volunteering experience – e.g. how welcomed they felt, the quality of their induction, etc. Whilst there is some work to do on improving satisfaction, students who volunteered on projects supported by the Volunteering Service did report a better experience than those  volunteering elsewhere, which perhaps reflects the work we put into quality assuring placements.

Read our student survey

Here’s our short video about volunteering and student skill development:

Our Services

We rate satisfaction by looking at the percentage of students saying a particular service is ‘good’ or ‘very good’. Student satisfaction for 17/18 was generally on a par with previous surveys – ranging between 78% and 87%, with an average of 83%.

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 number of emails, the length of the newsletter or not being able to find a suitable role.

However, it’s worth noting that when asked what they most liked, the newsletter was by far and away the most popular response, and breadth of opportunities was second most popular!

Recruiters generally seemed satisfied with our services; our communications and advice and support were particularly well rated. When asked an open question about what they liked, ease of use, good communications and the speed of our responses to enquiries stood out. When asked about dislikes, ‘Nothing’ was again the most popular answer, with poor online interface, 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?

2017/18 saw the continuation of long standing trends regarding which students we engage with. Women and undergraduates were much more likely to volunteer with us compared to men and postgraduates. International students were a bit more likely to volunteer with us, though this was largely due to the popularity of volunteering amongst Chinese students. UK Students from non-white ethnic groups were more likely to volunteer with us compared to UK white students.

Looking at POLAR4 data, UK students from neighbourhoods with low participation rates in Higher Education were slightly more likely to volunteer with us, and those from neighbourhoods with the highest participation in Higher Education were slightly less likely to volunteer.

As in previous years, students in Medicine, Life Sciences and Law faculties were keen volunteers – 1 in 5 medical students volunteered through us. At the departmental level, The Arts & Sciences BASc and Natural Sciences are worth highlighting, as are History, Archaeology and Greek & Latin – these latter reflecting our strength in heritage volunteering.

Finally, we gathered data on why students wanted to volunteer. The two most popular reasons were to make a difference and develop new skills. Whilst the ranking of reasons were roughly the same for undergraduates and postgraduates, postgraduates were more likely to select ‘meeting new people’, ‘to do something related to my academic study’ and ‘to connect with London communities’ than undergraduates, which might suggest new ways to engage postgraduates.

Read our participation report


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

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