New Website Matches Students With Volunteering Opportunities

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Repro Free. Thursday 17th November 2016. Irish University Association. Picture Jason Clarke

Students promoting Photo: Jason Clarke

IT Tralee and nine third level colleges have now joined forces to develop – a brand new online resource which matches students’ interests with volunteering opportunities.

Every year in Ireland thousands of students from our universities and institutes of technology carry out over 100,000 hours of volunteering.

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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.

“For me volunteering means taking time out and doing something in the hope it will help make a difference, however small, to someone else’s life,” said Clodagh O’Halloran, BSc. Health & Leisure Studies (Physical Education), IT Tralee and player for Munster Rugby.  “Knowing that my work is valued and in exchange getting the chance to observe happiness around me and to experience the same myself is wonderful. Without previous volunteers I wouldn’t be where I am today in my sporting career. It’s time to give back and create even more opportunities for the future of others.”

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 of the 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: IT Tralee, UCD, NUI Galway, 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 IT Tralee 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.

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.

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