Ever since Richmond was founded in 1972 by the social entrepreneur and politician Sir Cyril Taylor, chairman of the American Institute for Foreign Study (AIFS), the University has had a strong social mission.

Sir Cyril Taylor’s vision was that Richmond would be a community with ‘a scholarly yet social purpose’ and for all students to have access to international learning opportunities,  regardless of any differences in ethnicity, religion, nationality, gender or economic status.

It’s a vision that’s as strong today as ever.

Our liberal arts approach helps students develop a strong sense of personal and social responsibility, enhancing self-understanding and preparing them to deal with complexity, diversity, and change.

Working in the community

One example of this is that all of our undergraduates do some form of volunteer work or service learning in a structured way as part of their degree programme.

A survey conducted among our students showed that service learning had a life-changing impact on them, with all of those questioned saying that their volunteering had a positive impact on others.

Not only that, but 86 per cent said they plan to continue volunteering at the same or a different organization and 90 per cent said that doing work in the community provided them with transferrable employability skills.

It’s not just the students who have benefitted from working in the community.  In the last academic year, Richmond students worked with 140 voluntary organisations in Greater London, completing approximately 1,800 hours of voluntary work.

The organisations have been diverse, from Great Ormond Street Hospital to Oxfam, with projects including working with refugees and the homeless.

Working in the Community

Working in the Community representative Leah Wood (right)

Leah Wood (shown on the right in the photo), studying BA Communications, Marketing Communications and PR, volunteered to help the Wandle Trust, an environmental charity which aims to deliver healthy river ecosystems across the south east of England.  Leah worked in a team helping to clean the River Thames, and she also helped found Richmond’s ‘Great British Baking Society’, creating a partnership with the Trust by providing cakes for the volunteers.

Leah said, “Being a part of the Wandle Trust was an honour. We left the site knowing we made a difference, leaving the park and river cleaner and safer for people to enjoy.”

Professors Without Borders

Tessy de Nassau

Professors Without Borders representative Tessy de Nassau

Our social mission also comes to life through our association with Professors Without Borders, a social enterprise which, by providing university lecturers and professors, aims to make first class education available for students in developing countries without the need to go abroad.

Since the inception of Professors Without Borders by one of our alumni in 2015, Richmond has had a strong association with the organisation, supplying academic staff and students to work either overseas or in the UK on various projects.

Tessy Antony de Nassau, co-founder of Professors Without Borders and former student at Richmond, commented, “In two years, we have operated five summer schools, three in Sierra Leone, followed by our first project in Asia in Bangkok and another one in Uganda at the first women’s university in Africa.  We’ve worked in challenging conditions, facing storms and floods, flat tyres and logistical mountains with administrators and bureaucrats.”

“What’s made it all worthwhile is that we have touched so many lives already, inspired students and worked with lecturers locally to address the needs of the community. I am incredibly grateful to all the people who have volunteered their time and all our talented lecturers and interns. I really enjoyed my time at Richmond and I’m delighted to be now working with the University.  Many of the students who’ve been on internships with us have said the experience has been incredibly formative for their education and careers.”