Stand with Ukrainian Students and Scholars

Author: Liz Shchepetylnykova

Editorial Note: The Co-Editors would like to thank Mrs. Shchepetylnykova, a Ukrainian PhD student, for preparing this important piece. We also thank Ms. Shchepetylnykova’s supervisors, Drs. Anatoly Oleksiyenko and Nutsa Kobakhidze, for sharing resources and knowledge on Ukraine. We encourage readers to connect with these scholars to continue to educate ourselves and support Ukrainian students, scholars, and communities.

Russian invasion of Ukraine

Russia’s invasion of Ukraine is the largest since the Second World War crisis unfolding in Europe. 44 millions of Ukrainian people are in danger. As of 18 March 2022, over 3 million have already fled the country in search of a safe refuge and over 6 million have been internally displaced. While it remains unclear for how long the war will continue, the number of Ukrainian people in need of help is expected to only increase.

Stand with Ukrainian Scholars

As we seek to help those in Ukraine and abroad, some of our closest colleagues – Ukrainian students and academics may find it necessary to ask for support. As Ukrainian scholars have left their homes in search of opportunities for temporary academic positions in universities outside of Ukraine, some institutions have opened their doors and offered research positions for Ukrainian academics. For instance, Ilia State University in Georgia opened a call for three Ukrainian scholars to join their community. Other examples of opportunities for Ukrainian researchers abroad may be found on the Science for Ukraine website. However, not all Ukrainian researchers are able to leave the country, because of personal, family, health, and military concerns. Thus, scholars from Ukraine ask universities worldwide to consider opening remote positions that could be occupied by academics affected by war. Ukrainian scholars hope to take advantage of the possibility to work solely in virtual work environments brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic to work in international institutions.

Learn more about ways to support Ukrainian scholars from the resources of the Scholars at Risk Network at the link.

Supporting Ukrainian Higher Education Students

Similarly, many Ukrainian students seek opportunities to apply to higher education institutions or continue their tertiary education abroad. As millions of Ukrainians flee the war, high school graduates appear to be one of the most vulnerable groups. Mostly under 18 years old, high school graduates left with their mothers in hope to find a safe refuge. Their education is disrupted. Similarly, some university students had to flee Ukraine, often running away from shelling of their classrooms and residence halls, such as in the case of students at Ukraine’s top-ranked Karazin University in Kharkiv. Documentation of their academic achievements often goes missing due to the increasing number of schools destroyed in Russian military attacks.

These university-bound youth risk becoming a lost generation with no hope for higher education or advanced career opportunities. They are in dire need of special admission procedures that can accommodate their unique circumstances and offer alternative academic potential evaluation. Ukrainian students will be seeking opportunities to transfer to universities abroad in the attempt to normalize their livelihoods, mental and physical health. Opportunities for these students to receive guidance on options to join academic communities worldwide, financial assistance, and offers to come back to the classroom will be of utmost importance. The options available by way of Tuition scholarships for Ukrainians and academic jobs for Ukrainians are a great start. UNESCO’s global education call for Ukrainian support is also a crucial starting point for gathering resources and avenues for Ukrainian students placed at-risk. The international higher education community will need to continue to create opportunities for displaced youth and university students.

Understand the War In Ukraine 

Support for Ukraine also includes developing our awareness of the myriad root issues of the crisis. Understanding Ukraine in a more contextualized and nuanced way will enable us to better support Ukraine, as well as its neighbors who share similar histories and geopolitical challenges. Essential readings include The Frontline: Essays on Ukraine’s Past and Present and The Gates of Europe: a History of Ukraine by Serhii Plohy of Harvard University. Kennan Institute at the Woodrow Wilson Center provides extensive analytical op-eds on the war in Ukraine. In addition, the University World News has published extensively on the effect of the war on higher education worldwide. Anne Applebaum’s Red Famine: Stalin’s War on Ukraine and her other articles examine how the Ukrainian is discussed in the West, Russia, and Eurasia currently.  Timothy Snyder’s research explains the origins of Russian fascism, and Serhy Yekelchy’s. Ukraine: What Everyone Needs to Know also offers crucial knowledge that would support a fundamental understanding of Ukraine. To hear from Ukrainian scholars directly, consider the Explaining Ukraine podcast led by Dr. Volodymyr Yermolenko of National University “Kyiv-Mohyla Academy”. The Conversation and the Education Hub offers resources and support for evidence-based dialogue on Ukraine that may take place in classrooms, academic conferences, or even among family and friends.

It is not appropriate to write concluding remarks, since the Russian war in Ukraine is far from over. Personally, I find it important to remember – no matter how long the war lasts, each of us can help to save Ukraine. The buildings and roads may be restored, but not human lifes. Every opportunity for Ukrainian people to have safe spaces where they are welcomed and able to continue their life is contributing to the ultimate victory of Ukraine – the victory of life over death. Thus, I would like to ask that you take this chance to host a Ukrainian scholar, student, refugee and ask your colleagues and friends to create opportunities for Ukrainians. Stand with Ukraine everywhere where you are.

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