Engage International Student Volunteers Effectively

Discover strategies to engage international student volunteers and enhance community impact with Rosterfy’s efficient management tools.

International student volunteers bring fresh perspectives to community challenges, offering valuable insights and enthusiasm that enrich communities. By participating in projects abroad, students have the opportunity to make a positive impact but also become global citizens with a broader understanding of diverse cultures.

Despite these benefits, universities sometimes struggle to engage international students in volunteer opportunities due to cultural differences, language and logistical barriers. 

Let’s look at the student volunteering landscape and opportunities for universities to get international students involved.


The benefits of volunteering for international students and universities

We’ve already hinted at the advantages of engaging current students, but let’s dive a little deeper to recognise the benefits of volunteer activity as a part of student life and academic training.

Professional development

A volunteer opportunity is an excellent way for students to gain valuable skills to enhance their resume. Volunteering can build experience across various fields including education, health or sport, providing real-world experience that can be hard to come by in the classroom alone. In addition to this, volunteering is a great networking opportunity, allowing students to connect with professionals and fellow students who might shape their future careers even after a project ends.

Personal growth

Ask any academic advisor about the less tangible benefits of going to university and they will often reference volunteering as some of their favourite memories. Volunteering helps you grow personally. It boosts your confidence and improves your communication skills. By engaging in cultural exchange, you learn about Australian culture and share your own. This enriches your experience and broadens your perspective for future opportunities.

For international students in particular, volunteering provides a great opportunity to improve their English, which for many is the number one reason for giving up their time.

University benefits

Universities also benefit from volunteers. It improves their reputation and shows they’re engaged in community development. By supporting volunteer programs, universities can increase student engagement and foster a strong sense of commitment amongst students.

Universities can also form partnerships with local businesses and organisations, enhancing community impact. These collaborations can lead to further educational and professional opportunities for educators and future students.

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Many universities also offer events or courses complementing volunteer programs. This not only helps students manage their commitments but it can even give them meaningful additional pathways to academic credit, once the university’s volunteer program is fully integrated into the educational journey.


Overcoming challenges in identifying and engaging international student volunteers

Identifying and engaging international student volunteers can be challenging due to several factors.

Language barriers often make communication difficult. Assuming basic language requirements aren’t already part of exchange programs, encouraging students to learn basic phrases in the local language can help. Offering language support can further bridge this gap and make students feel more comfortable.

One factor that often makes students shy away from volunteering, but is rarely spoken about, is academic pressure. With students managing full-time studies, finding time for extracurricular activities can be tough. It’s important to offer flexible schedules and understand students’ academic commitments to help them balance their time effectively.

In some instances, the volunteering opportunities themselves may even integrate into the curriculum, giving universities an option to give students credit for work in a non-traditional environment.

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With international students especially, cultural differences may also be an obstacle. Since students may struggle to adapt to new cultural norms, providing opportunities to learn about Australian culture and traditions as part of volunteering programs can be an attractive option.

It’s also important to realise that those students are separated from their families and circle of friends, and bureaucratic requirements of their visit may put a lot of stress on them. To counteract this, volunteering can help them meet local peers and find new social connections. 

Engaging in volunteer activities can provide a break from academic stress and improve overall well-being, so you should certainly consider making that part of your university’s messaging to raise awareness of those benefits. Creating a welcoming environment where students can build lasting friendships across the globe can position your university as the melting pot enabling creative exchanges.

That’s why you’ll want to ensure that you’re involving students in meaningful projects that can lead to rewarding experiences. Highlight initiatives that have a positive impact on the community and students’ educational journey. This motivates students to participate and feel proud of their contributions.

By addressing these challenges and providing the right opportunities, you can create a more inclusive and effective volunteer program. For creative ideas on how to recruit volunteers, you can look into advanced recruitment strategies. Additionally, consider virtual volunteering options to provide even more flexibility or long-lasting support after an initial engagement.



Have you considered reward and recognition programs to engage your volunteers?

During our webinar, “Maximising student volunteer engagement within universities” Jeanette Kavanagh, Volunteer Manager for University Sydney Union (USU), talked about how they have used Rosterfy to make volunteering fun.

By introducing a points-based reward system for their on-campus student volunteer opportunities, USU has seen great engagement from their students who can now redeem vouchers, discounts and merchandise in exchange for their time spent volunteering.

To learn more, catch a recording of the webinar here

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General benefits of volunteering

Volunteering has repeatedly been shown to offer many advantages for anyone who participates.

For younger demographics, the mentorship that’s often part of the volunteer experience provides valuable practical knowledge, which enhances your employability. 

Volunteering also fosters resilience and adaptability. By stepping out of their comfort zones and facing new challenges, students develop the ability to adapt to different situations and overcome obstacles — skills that are invaluable in both personal and professional spheres.

Furthermore, volunteering promotes a sense of community and belonging. For international students, becoming part of a volunteer team can create a support network and help them feel more integrated into the university and the wider local community.

Building a sense of community is another important benefit. Volunteering helps you build strong connections with locals. This can make students identify more strongly with your mission and could even lead to their long-term support for future initiatives from afar, giving you an additional way to tap into future talent.

Universities can greatly benefit from using tools like Rosterfy, which helps streamline the process of managing volunteers. With Rosterfy, you can reduce admin tasks and increase the visibility of your impact on communities.

Effective onboarding and screening processes ensure that volunteers are a good fit for their roles. These tools make volunteer management more efficient and help in better communication and engagement across various projects.

By integrating such platforms, you can boost volunteer engagement and streamline operations across departments and projects. This helps in managing volunteers more effectively and ensuring their efforts lead to positive impacts.


Build a successful student volunteer program now

Volunteering enriches international students' personal growth and professional development while enhancing university reputations and community impact. 

Rosterfy provides a seamless solution to overcome engagement challenges, offering flexible scheduling, cultural integration and effective management tools. 

If you’d like to learn more about the benefits of considering a volunteer management solution for your university, download our latest whitepaper on this topic, here

Empower your university to harness the full potential of student volunteers and create meaningful, lasting contributions. Book a demo today to revolutionise your volunteer program and experience the benefits firsthand.


About Rosterfy

Rosterfy is used by nonprofits, charities, sporting federations, local governments, and more to better manage their volunteer programs by improving how they can recruit, screen, train, and retain volunteers.

Our market leading technology helps you create an engaging experience throughout the whole lifecycle of your volunteer journey.

Book a call today.

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