Student Volunteering England has revealed that 42,000 students volunteered in England last year, following the first-ever comprehensive evaluation of student volunteers in England.
Based on organised volunteer programmes at higher education institutes, students collectively provided 3.5 million hours to their communities, worth £42m to the economy. On average, they gave around 82 hours and £1,000 each.
But the number of volunteers equates to just 2 per cent of students in higher education.
Will Venters, the charity's chair, has set a target of 100,000 student volunteers by 2006. "We want to more than double the number of further education colleges that offer volunteering opportunities to students," he said.
Venters, who is on the advisory panel of the Russell Commission looking into a national youth volunteering strategy, believes this is achievable, as 2005 is the British Year of the Volunteer.
"Involving students in the community should be a main aim for all further education institutions. Volunteering enhances employability and improves retention."