UCD in the Community, a campus-wide initiative to promote civic engagement through ‘core activities,’ has launched a 5 credit volunteering elective which will be available during both semesters this academic year.
The module was inspired by a similar scheme established in NUI Galway, where the Students’ Union has helped to engage 10,000 student volunteers. The ‘Community, Volunteering, and Leadership’ module will require students to engage in 50 hours of unpaid volunteer work for any organisation that has subscribed to the scheme.
Students will then be asked to compile a portfolio of their volunteering work and reflect upon it in a written diary. In total, students will complete 120 hours per semester, including lectures, practical assignments, and the volunteer placement.
UCD Students’ Union, itself an organisation for which students can volunteer, are encouraging students, charities, and similar volunteer-driven organisations alike, to take part. Approved organisations can include UCD Clubs and Societies.
UCD Clubs and Societies can register their opportunities on the UCD in the Community website, while students interested in volunteering outside the elective can register for such opportunities on StudentVolunteer.ie.
Student Leaders are also being recruited to help promote the scheme across the campus. Training will be provided to student leaders to organise events and activities, register students on studentvolunteer.ie, and expand the programme to a greater number of organisations.
Speaking to the University Observer, Campaigns & Communications Officer Barry Murphy has said that the scheme aims to “reward our volunteers, rather than just giving them a free slice of pizza, they can get credits.”
“UCD students can volunteer say three hours with SVP, an hour with the SU, and volunteer maybe four or five hours writing an article for [the University Observer]. Or, they can work, say, with dogs trust.”
The scheme supports and promotes similar volunteering opportunities already established on campus, such as Enactus UCD, a non-profit entrepreneurial organisation, and Fáilte Refugees, a campaign which aims to increase awareness of global migration and support the integration of refugees into Irish society.
The programme is also open to staff members by offering their knowledge and expertise to benefit others.
The project is based in the Science building and has three staff members. It is sponsored by Professor Mark Rogers, Registrar and Deputy President, while Joe Carthy, Principal of the College of Science, is providing academic leadership.