Student Hubs delivers a range of programmes and projects in ten different locations around the country. But do all of our activities actually lead to our intended outcomes?
For the past four years we have developed a rigorous impact analysis system to help us answer this question, and so far the answer is a resounding ‘yes’.
After engaging with us:
of students are more motivated to engage in social and environmental issues (up from 82% last year)
of students feel more knowledgeable about social and environmental issues (up from 82% last year)
of students feel better equipped to tackle social and environmental issues (up from 73% last year)
of students plan to take further action in support of a cause that they care about (decreasing from 73% last year)
of the students we work with have never been involved in social action before
The data we collect through our website and database shows us where we’re excelling and where we need to improve.
Our activities lead to more students feeling motivated, knowledgeable and equipped to tackle the social and environmental issues that will define their generation.
We have engaged more students than ever before in the past academic year, so the small decrease in the percentage of students who feel inspired to take action still represents an overall increase in absolute terms.
Next year, we will focus on this outcome by providing follow-on opportunities for all of our activities.
These statistics represent a significant impact on individual students and their communities, which can be hard to comprehend by looking at numbers alone. Here are just a few personal stories to explain what this impact means to our students and communities:
Patrick, Branch Up at Imperial Hub
Patrick was a volunteer for one of Imperial Hub’s childrens’ projects: Branch Up, providing activity days for children from disadvantaged backgrounds.
I joined the programme in October 2014 motivated by the idea of inspiring young people. On a trip to London Wetlands Centre, another colleague from Imperial and I were assigned to a young boy with a disorder in the spectrum of Autism. I knew the task would be challenging but not hard as I could empathise with the child’s condition, as I have it myself.
The day developed quite well and my colleague and I managed to establish a connection with the child. Even though we remained a bit apart from the rest of the group throughout the day, as per the child’s request, we managed to communicate with him and allowed for him to have fun in his own way. The mother gave excellent feedback to the Hub and mentioned we were an inspiration to the child.
Branch Up isn’t just about having random and disorganised fun with children – even though we do have that sometimes – it is more about mutual learning, team-work and understanding the background where these children come from, and by doing so try and take action, inspire them and have fun with free play activities on the way.
Jess, Schools Plus Co-ordinator at Southampton Hub
Jess is Southampton Hub’s Schools Plus Coordinator. Schools Plus is our flagship volunteering programme, placing student tutors in schools with the aim of improving children’s attainment, academic confidence and subject interest. In her role as Coordinator, Jess oversees all of Southampton Hub’s tutoring projects; which support 75 student tutors to volunteer in three local schools and Southampton’s city libraries.
Schools Plus makes a huge impact in Southampton. Having University students working with pupils is beneficial for all involved, as a young person’s influence provides a different perspective and attitude towards learning than a teacher’s; and it adds variety to the learning environment of the pupils. Students inspire pupils in schools and the notable improvement in academic performance shows this effect. Raising aspiration is one of the most valuable outcomes of Schools Plus, where a person wants to learn and achieve there is always more chance of them doing so.
Being involved with Schools Plus and Student Hubs has been the the most interesting, inspiring and rewarding part of my University life so far. I have gained so many new skills, met so many proactive, energised and determined people and I have been able to witness the inspirational effect which student volunteers can have on the community and local people. I realised that wherever my life after university should take me I am determined to educate, support and inspire as many people as I can reach out to. Being part of Schools Plus has encouraged me to keep trying and be determined to get what you want, which is sometimes not easy!
Abby, Cambridge Hub Exec
Abby is a member of Cambridge Hub’s Executive Committee, where she runs the Hub’s communications. This year her ‘Dignity Essentials’ Campaign raised £900 for two local homeless shelters to buy feminine hygiene products whilst also raising awareness of the issue among the student body and inspiring several college collections for feminine hygiene products.
Working with Cambridge Hub was unique. It meant being connected to countless inspired campaigns, organisations and people, so there was never a shortage of things to do or amazing ideas to pursue. I think it was the most fulfilling part of my time at Cambridge. The Hub and all of you inspired me to look beyond the standard corporate job career path. Combined with Worthwhile, it has entirely altered my plans for the future and had a big impact on my time at uni.
Fran, Warwick Hub Exec
Fran got involved in Warwick Hub as a student volunteer on one of Warwick’s conference committees, she then went on to lead a conference herself as a member of Warwick Hub’s Executive Committee the following year. More recently Fran spearheaded the creation of ‘A Guide to Local Living’ to help Warwick students get to know their local area and live ethically in Leamington Spa. Having graduated, she now plans to work for an NGO, where she can continue to make a difference.
At Warwick Hub, we wanted to have a one stop shop of information for Ethical and Community based stuff in Leamington - not a lot of people know about what is going on in the local area. We wanted it to include lots of tips about how easy it is to make small changes to habits and lifestyle and make an impact on the world. We also saw it as a good way to start bridging the gap between Warwick students and the community. We decided we could do it - we just need a team of dedicated people!
I feels like I've learnt loads of skills through making the Guide, continuing what I've started with conferences - finding and motivating people, keeping to timelines, project management, writing fundraising proposals. Plus, I really enjoyed starting something new and overcoming difficult hurdles - and then finishing it feels great.
Getting involved with Warwick Hub has been fantastic - since I first did 3 years ago. I developed loads of skills. It was like a mini opportunity to work in a professional manner, but on a smaller scale. Also - it provided me with the opportunity to do something independently. I’ve also met a great group of friends through Warwick Hub - bringing ethically minded students together - we really have done that.
Yvette, Southampton Hub Exec
Yvette came along to one of Southampton Hub’s conferences as a keen Fresher and the rest, as they say, is history. She has since started up her own student society to fundraise for international development efforts and has recently joined Southampton Hub’s Executive Committee to run that same conference in 2015/16. She was also an intern on our Social Impact Internship Scheme this summer.
At the [Southampton Hub] conference I learnt so much and it was amazing. During the lunchtime stalls I found a charity called Farm Africa and spoke to them and made connections. I found it amazing that farmers could impact their local communities in such a huge way. I started to set up the Farm Africa society with help from Hubs and ran a speaker event during Student Volunteering Week to raise awareness and to help with fundraising. Running this event was a great feeling as it meant that I could finally see the idea come to life.
I’ve volunteered since I was 13, so finding out about Southampton Hub has really connected and reminded me of what I love doing and who I am. It's allowing me to make the most of my university experience whilst making a positive change to others. I don’t know who I’d be if I wasn’t involved in social action. It’s what I do.
Sophie, Bristol's Careers Beyond Profit Fair Organiser
Sophie led a committee of students organising Bristol’s Careers Beyond Profit Fair, which aimed to give students the opportunity to consider careers in the Third Sector and Social Enterprise. Over 200 students attended.
I got involved with the Hub committee because it is giving students what they want – focusing on a wide range of issues, all of which are very important, from environment to international development, and looking forward into the future. This is where the idea of the Careers Fair came in; I started more interested in sustainability, but have realised that looking forward to a socially impactful or sustainable career is more important for our generation perhaps than ever before. There is a need to get students outside of the uni lifestyle and get them looking beyond the typical student bubble and typical careers – the Hub is very good at getting people out of this.
For the fair, I wanted students to come with an open mind and realise that there are other opportunities out there, and then to leave looking forward to a third sector career and thinking about it more. Over 200 people attended, and the feedback overwhelmingly positive. Organisations were very impressed with the quality of students they met and seeing an event like this happen at all.
It is crucial to our mission that we have a positive impact on students, and we’re very proud of their amazing work.
It is equally important that they have a positive impact on society when working with their local communities.
Our partners - people from the voluntary organisations, schools, charities and social enterprises that our students have volunteered with - told us the following:
of teachers who responded to our survey thought that pupils’ academic interest had increased as a result of Schools Plus
reported that pupils’ confidence increased as a result of Schools Plus
agreed that pupils’ academic attainment increased as a result of Schools Plus
27 teachers responded to our survey (Summer 2015).
"The pupils say the sessions are really good. The pupils found the tutors helpful and often really fun. Testament to that is that we had an influx in the build up to exams, lots of pupils turned up as they had heard how useful it was.
A Latvian speaking student joined the class in October of year 10 with little English. She is enormously exuberant and bright, and her confidence and language has improved hugely (since being tutored). Teaching writing is very hard but her Schools Plus tutor worked with her on specific aspects and provided the personal support that I couldn’t provide. She felt really confident in sitting the English language higher tier paper after only being in the country for 18 months!"
Teacher at Schools Plus School
Social Impact Internship Scheme
of host organisations who responded to our survey thought that their intern made a valuable contribution to their organisation
of host organisations wanted to host an intern again
of host organisations reported that Student Hubs made it easier for them to find a suitable intern
11 host organisations responded to our survey (Summer 2015).