The study we are proposing is intended to integrate basic action in the general area of solidarity into the context of higher education. We are referring to the opportunity offered by volunteers from and in universities as a basic element in Education for Development training.
Universities are a truly effective driving force for changing situations. The commitment of universities to teaching and research is unquestionable, but this would be an empty position if it did not also include commitment to integrated education in civic values, tolerance, justice, solidarity and respect. For this integrated education to be a reality, daily, immediate contact with society is fundamental. It is therefore the responsibility of universities to generate spaces where such contact can be effective, constructive and educational.
One of these spaces must be provided by the actions of university volunteers. Volunteers are an essential part of the meeting process between universities and society. The university community – the human pillar on which universities are built – can provide critical reflection founded on knowledge and critical thought based on values.
These are not mere words without content: at the level of Spanish legislation, the Universities Act 6/2001, 21 December, amended by Act 4/2007, 12 April, includes, in section 46.2.i, the fact that students have the right to “obtain academic recognition for their participation in university cultural, sporting, solidarity, cooperation and student representation activities”. In addition, the Royal Decree 1393/2007, 29 October, establishing the organisation of official university education, states in section 12.8 that “in accordance with section 46.2.i of the Universities Act 6/2001, 21 December, students can obtain academic recognition in terms of credits for participation in university cultural, sporting, solidarity, cooperation and student representation activities up to a maximum total of 6 credits per degree course followed”.

To the provisions of these regulations providing universities with a space to carry out actions concerning education in values of solidarity must be added the regulations provided by Spanish legislation covering volunteers in order to see how clear the attribution of competences is in the training provided by higher education.

Taking into account this legal and structural support, we will put forward a hypothesis for the planning of volunteer activities at universities.