Thursday, 26 May 2011

A Possible Idea For International Alumni Profiles

My research is coming across some interesting examples of how universities across the world are highlighting their internationalization and proudly displaying their graduate stories and profiles. I particularly liked this example from the University of Auckland , an interactive world map search-able by country, with lots of examples of their alumni working all over the globe.

The website has a real focus on student recruitment. Perhaps this could be a nice framework for the international requirements of Glasgow's project.

Pictures are from the University of Auckland website and more information can be found at

Wednesday, 25 May 2011

Alumni Perspective

Last Friday I was lucky enough to have a meeting with an Alumnus who is very actively involved with Glasgow University as well as many other universities across the UK. It was a very positive meeting as this Alumnus has a real affinity for Glasgow.

Despite his busy schedule on a flying visit to the city he very kindly let me ask him all sorts of questions on his opinions of alumni volunteering for an hour! This oppertunity gave me some real insights into some of the expectations our alumni would have for the volunteering programme.

The Alumnus was thrilled that Glasgow are doing something to engage with their alumni in this way and is looking forward to seeing the end result, perhaps he may even get involved, if he likes what he sees!

The answers from this meeting have really helped to shape my research. As well as conducting a broad overview of all volunteering activity across the sector, I am now able to focus on specific elements of programmes which Glasgow Alumni may find appealing. Hopefully I can identify and meet a lot more "Key Alumni" in this manor to help shape our programme further.

Firstly however, I am off on some travels all around the country. At the beginning of June I am meeting with various universities in Central and East Scotland and 5 fellow Russell Group universities in England. All have generously agreed to spend some time with me discussing, in depth, their experiences (good and bad) of delivering their volunteering programmes.

These universities were selected for their international volunteering activities, careers networks and in some cases for their innovative overall programmes, so I'm very excited to see what works , what doesn't and what may be possible at Glasgow.

Tuesday, 17 May 2011

Fact Finding Mission(s)

Over the past couple of weeks I have attended some highly informative presentations and discussions at the University of Glasgow and been alerted to some innovative ideas for the potential alumni volunteering programme of the (not too distant) future. It has given me an insight into how alumni may be able to contribute to schools and services through volunteering.

One such interesting discussion was led by Akma Adam with Arts staff on graduate attributes & "The value of an Arts Education." Here, amongst other topics we discussed the topic of the employability of Arts and Humanities graduates and if this was a consideration in recruitment. Could arts alumni get involved to advise Arts and Humanities students as to just how transferable their skills gained at university truly are? I say this from a completely non biased arts educated point of view of course!

Another equally interesting presentation was given by Eileen Scott of Student Enterprise at the University of Glasgow
@studententerpr . Eileen very passionately spoke about the wealth of talent coming from Glasgow University and their creative and sometimes off the wall business start up ideas. It really got me thinking about how our entrepreneurial alumni may be able to get involved in some mutually rewarding and fun experiences with our students.

As a recently employed project officer at Glasgow the range of diverse and inspiring opportunities for students which exist within the university are becoming clear to me. It would be fantastic if a future alumni volunteering programme could, perhaps, contribute to some of these great services at some point in the future.

Thursday, 12 May 2011

Micro - Volunteering : Another Interesting Idea

I have had quite a few meetings with the Graduate Attributes team at Glasgow University, a lovely pair, with lots of great university contacts and even greater ideas.

Jamie Wightwick ,Graduate Attributes Project Officer, pointed me in the direction of Micro Volunteering and in particular a website called 'Sparked' as a potential idea for delivering certain aspects of an alumni volunteering programme.

Sparked is a pioneer of the concept of ‘micro-volunteering’ – small 5-10 minute tasks that can be carried out remotely by an army of e-volunteers. Jamie added that he thinks it’s a really interesting model because it tackles the issue that a lot of the time people don’t have the time to volunteer head-on, and if done successfully thinks it really can provide an innovative form of support to charities.

He has wondered for a while whether this is a model that could play a part in engaging our own alumni base (through our own website rather than through Sparked) – in graduate attributes terms for example it’d be an excellent way of building up a quick bank of case studies (e.g. ‘we need volunteers to fill in this quick template with an example of some form of extra-curricular activity they engaged in and how it’s gone on to help them in their future job’ ‘make us a 5 minute YouTube video about your experiences of our work placement programme, Club21 etc.).

It is something that needs careful consideration and management to make it attractive for people to engage with – in my own experiences of tinkering around with Sparked, far too many of the tasks offered currently boil down to ‘look at our website and tell us how to make it better’ or ‘explain to us how to use facebook/twitter.’

Some food for thought, but definitely an interesting model, as Jamie said "Something to file in the ‘wouldn’t-it-be-nice-if’ ideas pile in any case"

Wednesday, 11 May 2011

GlasgowSave: Project Update - Research

GlasgowSAVE Research 1st stage (due early June) : Update

Overview of Alumni volunteering across the sector, Russell Group, Universitas 21 and other national universities with notable alumni engagement activity

Last week I produced an overview of all alumni volunteering programmes across the Russell Group universities. My research flagged up some really interesting (and in some cases vast!) examples of varying 'menu's of options' universities are asking their alumni to give their time to.

The possibilities for our project now seem endless and I will be delving deeper into 6 universities offering excellent opportunities to gauge how sustainable their activities are, how the programmes are being delivered and try to find out how successful they have been in engaging their alumni and students alike.

The (Long Awaited) 1st Project Update

The official (wider) GlasgowSAVE Project team met for the first time on the 9th of May to discuss all activities for the project to date and identify our strategy for commencing the project.

It was a great meeting where we discussed some very exciting possibilities and outlined the main focus of our research.

The project team concluded that a strong foundation of research is indeed key to the success and sustainability of our future alumni volunteering project and so I have commenced what seems like a mammoth task of compiling research against the following criteria (in 3 stages) :

1st stage : due early June
- Overview of Alumni volunteering across the sector, Russell Group, Universitas 21 and other national universities with notable alumni engagement activity

2nd stage: due early July
- Comprehensive internal audit of existing alumni activity at the University of Glasgow and reflection on how services, schools and faculties may benefit from and like to feed into any future alumni engagement programme

3rd stage: TBC
- Alumni Focus , exploring what kind of expectations some of our graduates might have about their future involvement with the University

- Student focus , exploring how our current students would like to engage with alumni with a view to enhancing their employability upon graduation

1st stage research has been underway for a couple of weeks , updates to follow shortly.