UK Is Leading the Charts of Volunteering Abroad, Any Why it’s Not a Surprise

Before we begin to analyze the claim, let us get a brief understanding on what Volunteering Abroad and Gap Year travel is all about. Gap Year travel is a form of traveling abroad that is mostly practiced by students after completing their high school and before they begin with their college(sometimes, also, during their summer break in college). It is a year gap they take where in they travel, mostly to developing or underdeveloped countries, to do volunteer work in some kind of social project with a local NGO. This, in return, provides them with a gamut of hands on international work experience as well as an exposure to different cultures of the world. This, also, helps them in their future career prospects, creating a strong mark on their resumes.

For taking a gap year abroad, students mostly choose to go through a placement organization, as they are professionals in this area. Some of the mostly referred to are GoAbroad, GoOverseas, VolunteeringSolutions, VolunteerForever, etc, In all these years, they have seen the trend and agree to the fact that it is the students and backpackers from the UK who are the most enthusiastic about volunteering abroad.

My Class - Volunteering in Ghana
My Class – Volunteering in Ghana: Photo on Flickr by Charlie / CC BY 2.0

Here are a few reasons that supports this claim and its genuineness;

Volunteering Abroad all Started from the British Land

The concept of volunteering abroad can be traced back to almost a hundred years when the British Red Cross designed the Voluntary Aid Detachment scheme. This was to help and provide support in the battlefields across Europe as well as the Middle east during the First World War. The concept, then, later got popular and nations like Australia and the US started their organizations as well; Australian Volunteers International and International Voluntary Services (USA).

Volunteering with Elephants in Chitwan National Park, Nepal
Volunteering with Elephants in Chitwan National Park, Nepal: Photo on Flickr by Twin Work & Volunteer / CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

The Numbers says it All

A research done by the Student Times in 2012 estimated around 2.5 million students planning a gap year for volunteering abroad. This has only increased in the last few years, and is just one of the many figures which clearly reflects the dedication that travelers, especially students, show for volunteering abroad. Some of these stats are;

  • 80% in Britain do volunteer work, at some point during their gap year
  • 66% of gap year students said that they took their academic work more seriously after having a gap year experience
  • 60% of those who took a gap year said that their year out helped them decide what subject to concentrate on at university, and possibly what they wanted to do as a career.
  • 88% of people thought that their gap years had added to their employability
  • 40% of gap year students do not apply to university before embarking on their gap year
  • Gap year students are more likely to graduate with a First or Upper Second class honours degree than those who go straight to university.

Parents are Aware and Supportive

It is estimated that the British parents spend as much as £995 million a year in helping to fund their children’s gap years. This reflects the awareness in parents in UK about the importance of taking a gap year abroad. The average gap year cost between £3,000-£4,000; including the air fares, program registration fees, visa fees, and other miscellaneous travel expenses. This thwarts the idea of taking a gap year for many students. A significant percentage (around 30%) of students travel alone on their gap year expedition, and their parents help them financially in achieving this. A few, also, initiate several fund raising programs to sponsor their gap year travel expedition.

A batch of students on their volunteering abroad trip in Thailand

The Job Competition is Fierce in UK

One of the many rewards of taking up volunteering while on a gap year abroad is the career benefits that one can get out of it. The recruitment market across UK is known to be quite competitive, and students understand this phenomenon. So, in order to take an edge over their peers and make way for a better future, they make sure to take a gap year travel once finished with their high school. A mention of volunteering at a local school as a teacher can add a lot of value to the resume for a student.

Volunteer and child in Medellin, Colombia
Volunteer and child in Medellin, Colombia: Photo on Flickr by Jonathan Hood / CC BY-ND 2.0

Britishers are Known to Be Ardent Travelers

Travelers from across the United Kingdom are known to be one of the most ardent backpackers and vagabonds. A survey report mentioned a figure of around 60 million visits abroad by UK residents. While Spain was the leading destination in general, the most popular gap year destinations were Australia, New Zealand, Thailand and Peru. However, in the recent years, youngsters have become more keen to break away from traditional backpacking routes. This has led the volunteering tourism, a.k.a Voluntour, to increase in developing and underdeveloped countries; mostly in Asia and Africa.

The figures have only improved and increased in past few years and, considering the increasing popularity of taking a gap year to volunteer abroad, it can only be predicted to see a consistent progress.

About Dronacharya

After completing his engineering in electrical, Dave forayed into the world of communication leaving behind his 9-5 job in IT. This brought him closer to his passion of traveling and exploring places. Today, he lives life of a vagabond and loves to share his experiences with the world. When not writing or traveling, you can find him lazying on his couch watching the Breaking Bad

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