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Student volunteering in England: a critical moment

Jamie Darwen (National Co‐ordinating Centre for Public Engagement, Bristol, UK)
Andrea Grace Rannard (Volunteering England, London, UK)

Education + Training

ISSN: 0040-0912

Article publication date: 15 March 2011




The purpose of this paper is to present the current state of student volunteering in English universities, and show how it contributes to some of the core activities of higher education, including teaching and learning, employability, and public engagement. The paper goes on to describe challenges currently faced by student volunteering, and opportunities for its future development.


This viewpoint article utilises the experiences and observations of two former higher education community engagement practitioners who are now working at a national level to raise the profile of student volunteering, and reviews recent policy and practice related to this subject area.


Although student volunteering has a long tradition in English universities and there has been investment in the provision over the last decade, student volunteering is currently at a critical point. Without stronger evidence of impact, continued funding and an integrated approach to its development, student volunteering will not meet its full potential for higher education.

Practical implications

The paper has implications for higher education senior management, employers, community and employer engagement practitioners within higher education, and students. It advocates that integrated approaches are needed at national and institutional level to support the development of student volunteering.


The paper utilises the unique experience of former practitioners who now work in national roles, exploring a wide range of contemporary sources.



Darwen, J. and Grace Rannard, A. (2011), "Student volunteering in England: a critical moment", Education + Training, Vol. 53 No. 2/3, pp. 177-190.



Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2011, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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