As we enter Student Volunteering Week, Lynn Kilbride, Vice Principal for Academic Development and Student Experience at Robert Gordon University (RGU), talks about the value of volunteering and how RGU is amplifying the employability of their students through a brand new programme…

For generations volunteering has been the cornerstone of so many organisations and communities. They are unique, from varying backgrounds and a wide demographic, each fuelled by a common goal to put their own skills towards helping others.

They can be 18 or 80, even 8 or 100, and working full-time or not at all with a skillset that is so diverse that no two CVs will ever the same. They're unique, and without barriers.

Recent reporting by our student union, RGU:Union, shared that volunteering hours among students that had been reported to them between March 2022-February 2023 amounted to over 30,000 – a staggering number and testament to the commitment that RGU has to the community.

In 2023, Streetsport, the flagship programme of Denis Law Legacy Trust which was born out of RGU, attracted over 3,600 hours of volunteering among 60 different volunteers. Many of them RGU affiliated, but also school pupils, full-time workers and students at NESCol or University of Aberdeen.

At RGU, we want to ensure that the transformational personal growth and learned skillset that is being developed through volunteering is successfully translated and recognised. We not only want to acknowledge the passion and generosity demonstrated through their commitment, but also ensure that they can articulate how volunteering enhances their impressive catalogue of attributes to help them stand out from the crowd as employable, global citizens.

Last year we introduced RGUplus, a new programme that aims to ensure that the fantastic work undertaken by students across the University is taken to new heights and recognised in a way that will enhance their careers and help them succeed.

Through RGUplus and its Beyond the Classroom Pathways, students can input their volunteering hours and how it has developed their skillset before working with staff and a new app to translate this into CV-enhancing employability tools.

They can combine their hours at various organisations, from Streetsport to Cfine or ACVO to Abernecessities, with their time as a carer or period as a school officer or sport club committee member amounting to one huge success story to sell collectively.

New awards, including one which will partner with leading children’s charity, Denis Law Legacy Trust, will further amplify their achievements and help to sell our students as community success stories who will greatly enhance the working world.

We’re incredibly passionate at this University to help the development of the North-east and the city centre and recognise that the three key strands of RGUplus – sustainability, an entrepreneurial mindset, and Beyond the Classroom pathways – are vital to Aberdeen’s growth.

That’s why the programme will also be open to the entire RGU community too, welcoming neighbours from Garthdee or staff at the University, for example, to get involved and log the hours that they’ve put into their own selfless volunteering around Aberdeen.

Countless organisations continue to benefit from the generosity of volunteers and at RGU we have a number of case studies which highlight community outreach which, as a city, we ought to be really proud of.

In Torry, for example, RGU operates a student-led physiotherapy which benefit the community massively. Scores of elderly Torry residents join a free weekly exercise class at the Old Torry Community Centre to gain valuable and expert exercise, advice, and perhaps most crucially, friendly interaction between peers.

There is also our Grampian Community Law Centre which delivers legal services at the River Dee Medical Practice and in the Bridge Centre, Torry. This student-led voluntary service also extends to communities further away, with a home in the Blide Trust in Kirkwall, Orkney where online legal help and advice are offered to those who do not routinely have access to such services.

Through RGUplus, we’re thrilled to be able to recognise and award the vast amount of learning, engagement, and social responsibility that flourishes through volunteering in our communities.

If you want to find out more, please email