The Invaluable Resource of Volunteers – University of Copenhagen

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International Education > Newsletter > Study environment

02 September 2016

The Invaluable Resource of Volunteers

“It’s not about me; we must thank the students that volunteer for the many activities that we are able to carry out every year”, says Jacob Ørum, director of Studenterhuset. A mix of domestic and international volunteers assists Studenterhuset and University of Copenhagen creating a great study environment.

A “home” for the students
Studenterhuset (The Student House) plays a significant role in maintaining and creating a great study environment for students at University of Copenhagen with more than 600 activities annually. All activities are planned with the aim of giving the students the best support academically and socially during their studies. All students can join the different activities (see examples of activities in the box in the right column).

The vital resource is a diverse group of volunteers
210 volunteers carry out all the activities at Studenterhuset. 40-50 % of the volunteers are international students from more than 40 different countries. They are a vital resource for Studenterhuset and the diverse mix of nationalities possesses great value. “We carry out a number of initiatives that focus on how international students can get the better experience here in Copenhagen, but Danish students are equally benefitting from this as the diversity in the group of volunteers makes us able to offer different language cafés and a variety of cultural events. It is no expat-boble, but internationalization at home at its best”, says Jacob Ørum with a smile.     

The mission of Studenterhuset is to provide a strong study environment at the University of Copenhagen as well as strengthening the city of Copenhagen as a globally attractive study capital for students from all over the World, says Jacob Ørum.

Meet students at eye level 
Jacob emphasizes that Studenterhuset sees itself as part of a bigger community with a social responsibility to bring students together: “University of Copenhagen is a big university – if you want to get to know students across faculties we need to facilitate the activities that make them interact. What's more, you cannot take a good study environment for granted. Students sometimes feel lonely when they live in a big city. They sometimes have trouble keeping up with all their subjects, and new students sometimes feel cultural estranged.  It is important that these students have a place to go where they can meet equals with same concerns.”

Mentors well-prepared for the international students
Every year University of Copenhagen receives a number of international students on exchange and full degree programmes that need a mentor to guide them through their studies. Studenterhuset contributes with the coordination of the mentor programme. With a structured certificate programme that includes a one-day seminar, volunteers at Studenterhuset coach all the new mentors. As a result, all mentees can expect a well-prepared and qualified mentor upon arrival.

Cost-effective solution with student involvement
University of Copenhagen sponsors 1/3 of the budget whereas Studenterhuset fundraises the rest themselves. The inclusion of students has shown to be a cost-effective solution and gives great insights. The collaboration has supported the overall strategy for a better study environment and helped ensure the students’ well-being socially as well as academically at University of Copenhagen. The resources allocated are volunteers and some professional facilitation and support. “By participating in deciding, planning and carrying out activities, students make the university their own. Our experience shows that this feeling of ownership leads to greater satisfaction and counters possible commodification of education", Jacob Ørum says.