Following the Russian invasion of Ukraine, which caused about 780 fatalities for less than 30 days, about 3.1 million people were forced to flee their home country, leave their loved ones and give up jobs and studies to seek international protection in European countries.
In response to the situation, the European Member States have offered their support to refugees by sheltering thousands to millions of them, opening work vacancies, and helping them continue their studies within the extraordinary circumstances. While some European universities offer support in consultations, vacancies, mental health assistance, the rest pledged to enrol students, reduce tuition fees or even lift those entirely, SchengenVisaInfo.com reports.
According to data provided by the platform for education, Erudera.com, six German universities have volunteered to assist incoming Ukrainian students in one way or another.
The Technical University of Munich has announced financial support, counselling services, studies, and easy application for incoming Ukrainian nationals.
Ruprecht-Karls-Universität in Heidelberg has also provided financial assistance and plans to help new arrivals obtain residence permits and facilitate other administrative procedures.
Furthermore, the Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität in München has offered counselling services to Ukrainian students while also starting a fund dedicated to them. Freie Universitaet, one of the leading universities in Germany for Earth and computer sciences, said it would accommodate Ukrainian nationals and help them find jobs and assist with financial aid.
Except for financial support via the “Berlin-Ukraine” aid fund, Technische Universität Berlin (TU Berlin) has offered to reimburse fees for Ukrainian students attending German courses.
Other universities in Berlin, like Humboldt-Universität, have offered scholarships and other opportunities for students from Ukraine to get involved there.
The country has become a second house for Ukrainians, as more than 1.5 million have reached Poland since the war broke. Ukrainian students will be able to continue their education in Polish universities, while academic teachers and professors can be employed at higher education institutions in Poland.
In addition, people who have sufficient knowledge of the Polish language can work as teachers to support students who do not speak Polish.
Universities in Poland are helping Ukrainian refugees in different ways. For example, the Medical University of Gdansk has started an initiative called “Midwives for Ukraine” to help incoming Ukrainian pregnant women.
The University of Lodz is helping its Ukrainian students by offering housing at university dormitories for members of students’ families who reach Poland.
Students of the University of Warsaw are collecting medical supplies and pharmaceuticals to send them to Ukraine. They also offer free legal aid for students and doctoral students who want to continue their stay in Poland.
The French government has launched a support fund of €1 million to help Ukrainian artists and arts professionals. In addition, the ministry offered an additional amount of €300,000 for Ukrainian students to enrol at colleges and organisations of the French Ministry of Culture.
“The minister wants Ukrainian artists to be supported [so they] they can continue their creative work in France… this additional support will be in the form of research grants and funding for artistic projects, but also for organising exhibitions,” the ministry says.
A fund of €500,000 has been allocated to support Ukrainian students and researchers living in Italy or escaping from the warzone. The government has also called on academic institutions to come forward with grants and opportunities for Ukrainian scholars.
Swedish universities like Stockholm University Johanna Wiklund were working to allocate the funding needed to increase SAR placements. In addition, several universities, such as Stockholm University, are offering research positions to Ukrainian researchers.
The Karolinska Institute is preparing to welcome researchers and students from the zone of war and conflict.
Southern Denmark University (SDU) and seven other universities in the country have shown their support to the Ukrainian people by suspending collaboration with Russian and Belarus organisations. In addition to aid, the country intends to offer Ukrainian students free education, but that hasn’t been decided yet.
“It seems like there is a broad political understanding in parliament that we will let Ukrainian refugees have the opportunity to enter University here without tuition fees. This will be decided next week,” Jesper Langergaard, director of Universities Denmark, told University World News.
While the Education Ministry in Ireland has offered reduced tuition fees for Ukrainian students as well as language courses and other aids, a group of students at Trinity College Dublin has reached out and met with Ukrainian students while NUI Galway said it is working to create scholarships for them. In addition, the University of Limerick team came together to collect medical goods and essential items for hospitals in Ukraine.
While highly condemning the Russian invasion, the Icelandic government expressed its solidarity and offered accommodation for students and other refugees from Ukraine.
“Universities in Iceland will keep a close eye on developments and respond as they unfold. The universities will work with the Icelandic government to explore options for accommodating Ukrainian students and staff who need to flee the conflict and seek refuge in Iceland,” the Icelandic Rectors’ Conference said.
Universities in the Scandinavian country aim to offer support for wellbeing-related matters and study-related hardships. The University of Helsinki provided support for the health and wellbeing of the incoming students in a bid to help them complete non-degree studies.
On the other hand, the University of Eastern Finland has vowed to admit 20 Ukrainian students while also covering their living costs and travel expenses.
The University of Ljubljana has started running a humanitarian campaign called Heart University (Srčna UL), which is raising money for affected students in Ukraine and can be allocated by providing rent and housing costs, food, clothing, study materials, and computer equipment for studies.
Romanian universities have offered Ukrainian students the chance to continue their studies there, even for those without a degree. For those who cannot prove their academic achievements, such as a diploma, the authorities will establish an assessment.
“If the student or doctoral student cannot prove the studies completed by documents issued by the higher education institution, he/she previously attended in Ukraine, the Romanian higher education institution evaluates, based on its own criteria and in compliance with good international practices, learning outcomes, competencies and skills and decides on the recognition and award of transferable study credits,” an approved order by Romanian government reads.
One of the leading higher education institutions in Switzerland, the École Polytechnique fédérale de Lausanne, has provided financial support counselling services in addition to spiritual care for refugee students.
In addition to sheltering about 140,000 Ukrainian refugees, this neighbouring country of Ukraine has offered free education at the Budapest Semmelweis University until the war ends. In addition, the country has provided job vacancies for medical staff coming from Ukraine.
Ukrainian students can receive free meals, counselling services, even free tuition at the Faculty of Veterinary Medicine of the University of Zagreb. Moreover, clinical practice can be completed there academic and psychological counselling will be at Ukrainian students’ disposal.
In solidarity with Ukrainian students, the University of South Bohemia has offered extraordinary and social scholarships and accommodation for those who need it.
Comenius University in Bratislava, Slovakia, has secured about 300 beds for incoming refugees, in addition to language interpretation, medical care, legal assistance, and blood donations. However, the University’s vice-rector reveals the interest to remain in Slovakia is low among Ukrainian students.
“We received some isolated requests from some students and from some academics from universities that would wish to continue their work at our University, and we are doing everything we can to make this happen. Most people would wish to continue their work in Ukraine and only wish to come here for shelter,” Radomír Masaryk, vice-rector at the University, said.
Numbers of Incoming International Students & Ukrainian Nationals Studying Abroad
The country has seen a gradual surge of international students in the last decade, amounting to 80,470 of them by 2019. According to data from Erudera.com, the main nationalities to pursue their academic careers in Ukraine are Indians with 18,429 students, followed by Morocco with 8,233 and Azerbaijan with 5,470.
On the other hand, UNESCO’s Institute for Statistics reveals that Poland is a destination country for Ukrainian students, as about 26,938 of those are enrolled in universities there. The second country is Russia, with 21,609 Ukrainian international students, while the remaining destination countries are mostly in the EU; Germany (6,313), Czechia (3,132), and Slovakia (2,911).