New Technology to Scale-up Student Volunteering at Trinity College Dublin

Posted on: 09 December 2016

Every year in Ireland thousands of students from our universities and institutes of technology carry out over 100,000 hours of volunteering. Ten third level colleges have now joined forces to develop – a brand new online resource which matches students’ interests with volunteering opportunities. The portal is the first of its kind globally and aims to enhance students’ awareness of their role and responsibility in solving challenges such as homelessness, social exclusion and our ageing population.

When you volunteer your time, you become a better person and your community becomes a better place to be. Volunteering helps you to benefit from the skills and knowledge that you gained through your experiences and apply it to your career.”  – Shelli Garland, student, Trinity College Dublin

Students celebrate the launch of on Trinity campus

Potential users include up to 100,847 (HEA 2015) students across all higher education institutions and up to 8,000 registered Civil Society Organisations. For charities such as Barnardos, Habitat for Humanity, TeenLine and Special Olympics Ireland, student volunteering is a vital component of their ongoing work:

“At Barnardos our volunteer opportunities are as varied as the personalities of the children we work with. We have volunteer opportunities available within our shops and at fundraising events, both of which are vital volunteer roles as they raise funds for Barnardos services. We are delighted to be working alongside this great new hub to match volunteer opportunities within Barnardos with students from Trinity College and Higher Education Institutions across Ireland.” – Suzanne Connolly, Volunteer & Supporter Engagement Service, Barnardos

Shortlisted for the 2016 THINKTECH awards, has been developed under the umbrella of the Campus Engage Network based at the Irish Universities Association. There are currently 10 Higher Education Institutions (HEIs) invested in the portal: UCD, NUI Galway, IT Tralee, UL, MU, Trinity, IT Tallaght, DCU, UCC and DIT. The online system is open to ALL Higher Education Institutions (HEIs), private colleges, VECs, etc.

Students at Trinity can browse and apply for volunteering opportunities nationally or internationally; manage their profile and volunteering activity online; track volunteering hours; gain recognition and apply for volunteering awards.

The civic role and responsibility of colleges and their graduates is becoming a central issue in the global education discussion, with increasing pressure on institutions to demonstrate how higher education is adding value to society.

“By effectively using technology to make volunteering easier, Campus Engage is helping universities and institutes of technology to scale up this socially impactful enterprise.” – Kate Morris, National Coordinator, Campus Engage, Irish Universities Association.

The value of volunteering is recognised by the United Nations who have designated December 5th as International Volunteer Day (IVD).   

Volunteering has numerous benefits for students and for society. Ireland’s new National Skills Strategy 2025 focuses on graduate attributes such as high level cognitive, leadership, entrepreneurial, analytical and interpersonal skills. Volunteering is an excellent outlet for students to test, refine and put these skills into action. These skills are very much valued by employers:

"In an increasingly competitive employment market, when I review CV’s the selflessness of a volunteer can stand out like a beacon in a sea of self-interest. The functional expertise that a volunteer can learn in an organisation, offers a head start compared to others who start at the beginning when entering permanent employment for the first time.”  – Billy Norman, Customer Account Manager in Unilever

Evidence shows that getting out and volunteering can improve individual mental health and well-being. Volunteering is also an excellent pathway for international students in Ireland to integrate into their communities and make new friends.  Higher education institutions across the country are battling student retention. Getting involved in extracurricular activity on and off campus is proven to keep students in college. International volunteering cultivates core graduate attributes such as cultural awareness, languages and increased understanding of global social responsibility.

“In Trinity College Dublin, we are extremely proud of the extracurricular activity undertaken by students which ensures a vibrant campus and offers students diverse opportunities for learning, social development and personal growth. We encourage all our students to engage in extra-curricular activity whether in College or in the wider community as it’s a rich and rewarding experience and one that will cultivate skills and attributes that will stand to students in their personal and professional lives.” – Prof. Kevin O'Kelly, Dean of Students, Trinity College Dublin

Higher education institutions are now acknowledging students’ volunteering achievements on their academic transcripts or diploma supplements. Participating colleges are beginning to use to track their students’ volunteer hours so they can recognise their efforts at the end of the college year in Awards ceremonies such as the Trinity College Dean's Volunteer Awards.

Media Contact:

Aoife Ni Mhaolain, Former Executive Officer | | +353 1 896 4168