Student Volunteering Symposium at NUI Galway Promotes Research

Volunteer coordinators from across Ireland at the first ever Research Symposium on Student Volunteering at NUI Galway. The event showcased research findings on volunteer motivations, barriers, and experiences.
Jul 12 2016 Posted: 09:54 IST

NUI Galway hosted the first ever Symposium on Student Volunteering this month to build the peer-reviewed research landscape needed to address the scarcity in student engagement literature from the Irish higher education perspective. The recent expansion of Irish Higher Education Institutions community engagement initiatives supporting student volunteering raises important questions and the Symposium is a critical, safe place to build a scholarly layer of enquiry. 

The symposium, which was attended by volunteer coordinators from across Ireland, saw a showcase of research findings on volunteer motivations, barriers, and experiences from NUI Galway, DCU, NGOs, Comhlámh and Gaisce.

Keynote speaker Clare Holdsworth, Professor of Social Geography from Keele University, gave an address on the latest research on youth engagement. She outlined good practice in research methods as well as the common challenges and drawbacks of statistical analysis. Her keynote addressed the mobilisation of employability skills as an outcome of volunteering, valuing and nurturing voluntary activity as an end in itself and critiquing graduate attributes discourses.

Symposium supporters include Volunteer Ireland,, NUI Galway Students’ Union and Campus Engage. 

The Symposium focused on the following themes:

  • build understanding on the scale of student volunteering
  • how to begin researching your student volunteering practice and supportive research tips
  • recognising the scholarship dimensions of student learning through extra-curricular engagement
  • raising awareness of contemporary research into student volunteering at higher education through practice and policy levels

Lorraine Tansey, Student Volunteer Programme, ALIVE coordinator, said: “We are delighted to see a debate and discussion on a topic that can often be simply seen as a benevolent act.  Current trends and our ability to inspire the future generation of volunteers are at stake. We hope annually we can lead the national conversation and create rich theory and data to create the policies needed to support student civic learning.”

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