Gap-year students could benefit financially from a community service scheme.
Gordon Brown, the chancellor, announced during the budget that the Treasury and Home Office were to consider whether resources should be made available to encourage young people to undertake voluntary work.
Mr Brown said that, as 2005 was the British Year of the Volunteer, two volunteering initiatives would be considered: the first to encourage and extend mentoring; and the second to encourage national community service.
The move follows the Fabian Society's recommendation that young people should be rewarded with £3,000 credit for voluntary work during their gap year.
The society's pamphlet Connecting People: A Proposal for a Youth Community Service Scheme suggests that young people could take on public-sector administrative work, could work on conservation or heritage projects, or could volunteer for overseas aid projects.
"With the prospect of annual tuition fees of up to £3,000, the chance to earn this in the form of a credit through community service will be increasingly attractive," the pamphlet concludes.