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Investigation and Analysis of Third-Level Students' Perceptions of Philanthropy and Official Development Assistance (ODA)

Investigation and Analysis of Third-Level Students' Perceptions of Philanthropy and Official Development Assistance (ODA)

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An essay for the 2011 Undergraduate Awards Competition by Thomas Smith. Originally submitted for Statistics for Development Research at University College Cork, with lecturer Helena Guiney in the category of Social Studies
An essay for the 2011 Undergraduate Awards Competition by Thomas Smith. Originally submitted for Statistics for Development Research at University College Cork, with lecturer Helena Guiney in the category of Social Studies

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Published by: Undergraduate Awards on Aug 29, 2012
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05/21/2015

 
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Investigation and Analysis of Third-Level Students' Perceptions of Philanthropy and OfficialDevelopment Assistance (ODA)
 
“ 
The Government intends that every person in Ireland will have access to educational opportunities and understand their rights and responsibilities as global citizens as well astheir potential to affect change for a more just and equal world 
” 
-
 
Irish Government White Paper on Irish Aid (2006)
Introduction:
The Irish Government’s overseas aid programme, implemented by Irish Aid
- a section of theDepartment of Foreign Affairs
 –
made a rare appearance in the headlines in May 2009following a review of its o
perations by the OECD’s Development Assistance Committee (MacCormaic, 2009). Lauding the programme as “cutting
-
edge”
 
and “focussed”, the report went
on to note that support of overseas development assistance in general is strong amongstthe public in Ireland (DAC, 2009). This report will use extensive research undertaken bystudents in University College Cork (UCC) to further assess these views on aid in general,
gauge students’ contributions in time and money to international development and
measure attitudes to relevant areas such as government Overseas Development Assistance(ODA) budget cuts and their own philanthropic giving. The data, at the very least, will be of interest to Irish development NGOs, the Irish development education sector, generally moregeared towards primary and secondary level education than in universities, and Irish Aiditself.The last two to three decades have been a time of unprecedented mainstream prominencefor issues of development among all age groups, in large part due to celebrity-frontedinitiatives such as Live Aid, Make Poverty History, Jubilee 2000, Drop the Debt, Live 8 andthe frequent appearances of well-known personalities as good-will ambassadors for
 
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organisations such as UNICEF. The timing of the research, taking place in early 2010, hasmeant that this public awareness was particularly acute amidst widespread coverage of emergency relief efforts in earthquake-hit Haiti.Another contextual factor to be taken into account is that the study was carried out at atime of considerable and relatively prolonged economic turmoil for Ireland. Budget cuts inall areas, including the most sensitive, dominated the public discourse and this madequestions relating to aid cuts and whether charity starts at home all the more interesting.Cork City itself had extremely recent experience of severe flooding, including the evacuationand submergence of UCC student accommodation, and resulting in much of the city beingwithout running water for prolonged periods (Roche & Siggins, 2009). This left much of theresearch with a particular resonance locally.Findings of our study should complement existing literature in the field, which will bereviewed briefly here for contextual purposes:High levels of support and public enthusiasm, combined with low levels of understandingand knowledge are the general findings across the board in relation to the Irish citizens andoverseas aid (Connolly et al, 2008; DFA, 2006; DAC, 2009; Irish Aid, 2002). The general trendacross all OECD states is
for members of the public to overestimate their government’s aid
contributions when asked.
For example, studies in America have put the public’s estimation
of government aid contributions at 20 times the actual amount (PIPA, 2001). Also, a 2002MRBI study in Ireland found that 47% of people thought aid makes a real difference, with
43% replying ‘a little bit’ or ‘not at all’.
 In their 2008 survey of university students, Connolly et al. found that 50% of respondentswere concerned that aid does not reach the intended people, indicating scepticism arounddevelopment assistance, despite the genuine levels of support for it. 63% believed that aid
makes ‘a little bit’ of difference to people in developing countries with only 5% feeling that it
does not make any difference to the lives of the poor in developing countries. It was foundthat there was strong backing for even further increases in ODA beyond the promised 0.7%of GNP and this will be interesting to compare with our own findings, emerging as they do
 
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from different economic times. 61% of students were found to have contributed in money,time or service to overseas aid in the previous year (Ibid.).A finding from previous research also with implications for our study is that overall, womenand the most highly educated expressed the most concern about having a responsibility tohelp poor people in developing countries, while those aged 15-24 expressed least concern(Atkinson & Eastwood, 2007).
Methods:
The process of our statistical analysis had two main components:
-
 
A quota sample of 339 face-to-face interviews with randomly-selected UCCstudents in various locations of the campus.
The author’s experience of his
relevant sample quota was a 100% response rate using this method.
-
 
5000 students were randomly selected from a sampling frame of all studentnumbers by the UCC Computer Centre and e-mailed with a link to completethe questionnaire on a web-based survey tool(www.surveymonkey.com). This resulted in a further 359 respondents for our study at a response rateof 7.2%.An incentive comprising of 
entry into a prize draw for a €50 restaurant voucher appli
ed toboth of the above cases in an attempt to encourage a high response rate. The total samplesize, as per above, was 698 students, the demographics of whom shall be discussed in thenext section.Following extensive face-to-face piloting of the survey, data collection was carried out in theperiod of January to March 2010. The sample of students were asked questions on socio-demographic details, educational status, personal contributions to overseas aid, attitudes tooverseas development assistance with likert scales being used to analyse opinions. Once the

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