University student volunteering: what's in a name?

Megan Paull, Rowena Scott, Judith MacCallum, Gabrielle Walker, Maryam Omari, Susan Young, Debbie Haski-Leventhal, Kirsten Holmes

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Universities are increasingly expecting students to participate in activities referred to as 'student volunteering', 'service learning' or 'community service'. There is, however, a lack of clarity about the term 'student volunteering' and how it relates to activities such as service learning and work-integrated learning (WIL). Further, there is debate on the sorts of activities encompassed by the term 'student volunteering'. The term has been used to refer to a range of activities including service by students to their university, service to clubs and associations (from environmental groups to photography, business and sporting clubs); placement in volunteer positions in community organisations; and volunteering through university- and guild-organised programs such as volunteer hubs or centres. Drawing on a systematic literature review, and on data collected from university websites, this paper considers how the term 'student volunteering' is applied, explores its relationship to WIL, community engagement and service learning, and to broader elements of graduate attributes such as global citizenship and civic responsibility (Einfeld and Collins 2008). The aims of this paper are to explore the many uses of the term 'student volunteering', and to consider how the understanding of this term contributes to university student volunteering, including how it influences the interpretation of the activity by stakeholders.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)49-74
Number of pages26
JournalThird sector review
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2015


  • University student volunteering
  • service learning
  • terminology


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