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More than just a degree? Active citizenship in higher education

Tuesday 07-02-2017 - 12:31

You might not think about the Tuesday night you go with the football club to train primary school kids as ‘volunteering’, or the vote for your favourite lecturer as ‘democratic engagement’, but every day students up and down the country are doing far more for than studying, and probably without thinking of the impact this might have on their future engagement with society.

Now more than ever, graduates are likely to vote, volunteer and be globally and environmentally conscious.

Our experiences while we study are developing our sense of what it means to be an ‘active citizen’ – a conscientious member of our communities, who not only participates on a local level, but think about the world and the way our behaviour impacts on it.

GuildHE, in partnership with NUS, has written a report exploring the ways in which we become active citizens.

I am proud to have worked with them to showcase some of our most inspiring students. Women like Ria Sharma – who founded her own charity supporting acid-attack survivors while studying at Leeds College of Art, and Catherine Mitchell, who started the ‘Give it a Go’ initiative, which provides opportunities to get involved with one-off and accessible volunteering actions. Students’ union Leaders from Ravensbourne who established the ‘Civic Action Students’ Society’, and worked with Citizens UK to overcome barriers to student and academic civil engagement. Societies that run Go Green Week events and support students to go abroad.

To follow on from the report, GuildHE are holding the conference ‘More Than Just A Degree? Active Citizenship in HE’ in London on Monday 13 March. It will explore how unions, volunteers and institutions can work together to empower and inspire their students to become active citizens.

You will be hearing from MPs, university leaders, heads of charities, and (of course!) the students who are making it happen.

For more details and to register for the event, email Jack.Fleming@guildhe.ac.uk. You can also read the full report here.

I’m looking forward to seeing you there!

 

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