Colleges 'can't fund volunteering opportunities'

Colleges do not have enough funding to offer their students volunteering opportunities, according to a study of volunteering provisions in the UK.

The report, Assessing the Impact of Volunteering on the Further Education Sector, commissioned by the Learning and Skills Council, shows that although many students volunteer, less than half find positions through their further education institutions. Less than a third of staff responsible for student volunteering feel the issue is a high priority for their colleges.

Swatee Deepak, the co-author of the report, said the real problem was finance, not apathy. “The institutions really want to offer volunteering services and there is already a lot of good practice out there,” she said. “But colleges need to showcase their projects to learn from each other and develop existing frameworks, rather than incurring new costs.”

The report, released today by Volunteering England to mark the start of Student Volunteering Week, also highlights the need for a further education sector-wide volunteering strategy and a dedicated funding stream.

“The further education sector has all too often been the poor relation of higher education institutions, which enjoy a more established and funded infrastructure,” said Justin Davis Smith, chief executive of volunteering England. “However, it is vital that these learners have access to quality volunteering opportunities to enable them to fulfil their potential – and this requires support from further education colleges and the Government.”

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