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University applicants urged to do volunteering to help their application

23 April 2015

University and college applicants are being encouraged to use voluntary work to broaden their experience and demonstrate their skills, under new guidance launched today.

New guidance published by the Charities Aid Foundation, with the support of UCAS, the Association of Colleges (AoC), the Higher Education Liaison Officers Association (HELOA), the National Union of Students (NUS), Step Up To Serve and the National Citizen Service, shows how students can develop valuable life skills and personal qualities whilst helping others, by getting involved in volunteering or social action before they apply to universities and colleges.

UCAS’ own information for students completing personal statements will now include reference to ‘social action’ (for example through fundraising, volunteering or campaigning) as one of the things students can use when preparing their university and college applications and something that may help catch the eye of admissions tutors.  Students will then be able to explore the new web-based guidance to find out how they can get involved or how best to talk about their existing experience.

John Low, Chief Executive of the Charities Aid Foundation, said:

"Doing work for a charity, fundraising or volunteering is a fantastic way of young people getting valuable experience and giving them a stepping stone into the world of higher education and work.

"Being involved in social action and volunteering for a cause you care about is hugely rewarding in its own right, but can also help young people broaden their outlook and give them the sort of experience that can stand out in applications for courses or jobs.

"It is important to encourage people to get involved with charities and we are delighted that UCAS and other key organisations are supporting these efforts to give young people easy access to information about how they can help others whilst helping themselves."

Helen Thorne, Director of External Relations at UCAS said:

“Some course tutors find UCAS personal statements crucial when making decisions on applications, so it’s important that applicants are able to make theirs stand out. Linking volunteering and leadership in extra-curricular activities to an area of study may strengthen an application. Along with writing about the course people applying for, universities also like to know the types of skills applicants have that will help you on the course, or generally at university.”

John Cridland, Director General of the CBI, supporter of the #iwill campaign for youth social action, added:

"I believe that we must make social action a component of our country’s vision for education, and so we're pleased to see a commitment from UCAS to support this, and help embed social action in the journey of young people. Getting involved in activities such as campaigning, fundraising and volunteering can help develop precisely the kinds of attributes and skills that the businesses we represent say that young people need."


Notes for Editors:

1) The cross-party Growing Giving Parliamentary Inquiry was a cross-party programme chaired by former Home Secretary David Blunkett, supported by parliamentarians Andrew Percy and Baroness Tyler. One of the Inquiry’s recommendations was:

“UCAS forms should include provision for young people to demonstrate their commitment to social action. Information about this should be provided to young people in order to encourage greater involvement and raise awareness of the benefits from participation in social action.”

2) CAF’s UK Giving Report 2014 found that those aged 16-24 are the least likely to be involved in charitable giving or social action

3) The Labour Party’s A Better Plan for Education Manifesto 2015 reports that nearly 80 per cent of employers rate the attitudes young people hold as the most important factor they consider when recruiting new staff.

4) CAF’s Creating an Age of Giving Report states that 70% of teenagers said that their participation in social action improved their motivation in school

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