EB update war Ukraine March 4
We are shocked by the Russian invasion of Ukraine and the war that is now raging there. We are deeply concerned about the consequences and our thoughts go out to all those who are affected by deep human suffering. Therefore we would like to strongly express our solidarity with students and university staff, in and outside Ukraine. We support those in the academic communities in Russia and Belarus who are speaking out against the war. Let us work together for peace, respect, dialogue and open cooperation.
Over the past week, we have been in close contact with Ukrainian, Russian and Belarusian students and staff at our university. They have all been approached individually and have been offered support. They have great concerns and sadness: about the war, sanctions and their consequences. We sympathise with them, their families and the academic communities in Ukraine, as well as in Russia and Belarus. We also see that students and staff are worried and feel the need to help and talk about the war. In this mail you may read what is already happening. More information will follow in the coming weeks.
Research cooperation frozen and student exchange discontinued
The Ministry of Education, Culture and Science has called on educational institutions to immediately freeze cooperation with educational and knowledge institutions in the Russian Federation and Belarus. Dutch institutions have decided to do this in order to contribute to a crystal clear international signal that the Russian invasion and the suffering it entails is unacceptable.
This means that no more knowledge, data or currency may be exchanged with knowledge institutions in Russia and Belarus. Cooperation agreements in the field of research and education with Russia and Belarus are frozen. Activities under the cooperation agreements will stop until further notice. Information on what this means exactly will follow. For the time being, students cannot go on exchange to Russian and Belarusian universities. Read what consequences this has for, for example, joint (scientific) events and cooperation projects, in this press release from Universities of the Netherlands. Russian and Belarusian students and staff who are currently in the Netherlands can stay here.
We regret the consequences for science and education. These flourish through international cooperation and the open exchange of knowledge, insights and ideas. We realise that many collaborations in education and science are based on peer-to-peer relationships with Russian and Belarusian colleagues. Many of them have publicly criticised the invasion at the risk of endangering their own lives. Therefore, we give our colleagues the space to continue existing personal contacts with scientists where this is fitting. Especially in times of conflict, it is important to stay in touch.
It is important to be extra alert in the field of cyber and knowledge security, especially in strategically sensitive areas. For advice, please contact the national Knowledge Security Desk (website in Dutch).
As an academic community, we must now be there for the Ukrainian, Russian and Belarusian UU students and staff and show solidarity with them. They are part of our academic community and should not suffer from a decision made in the Kremlin. We are therefore doing everything we can to support them.
For example, all UU students with concerns can contact their study advisor, the student psychologists or talk to a coach. UU staff can contact their manager or staff welfare service and PhD students can contact the PhD psychologist. The support is available to all UU students, even if you are worried, find it difficult to cope with the uncertain situation, if it evokes memories of war or if you have roots in the region around Ukraine.
We expect that a part of the students (and possibly also staff) from Ukraine, Russia and Belarus will be in financial difficulties in the short term because of the war (and sanctions). The university will provide financial support in case of acute financial need. In addition, the Utrecht University Fund is starting a fundraising campaign to support these students financially as soon as possible.
In cooperation with The Young Academy, UAF, universities, academic medical centres, universities of applied science, KNAW and NWO, a coordination point will be set up to receive Ukrainian students, teachers and researchers who have fled their homeland. This will enable them to find a place within Dutch institutions as quickly as possible.
Soon we will be organising a meeting for all our students and staff where everyone can ask questions and share their concerns. We see that there is a lot of concern and a great need to help and to talk about what is happening in our community. Further information about this meeting will follow. The same goes for information on how to provide housing for academics who fled the affected areas. We are discussing this with the municipality of Utrecht.
Within our own community, we see great initiatives emerging to help academics and students from the affected areas. For example, Professor Jos Malda is offering a paid position in his research group for a master's student, PhD student or post-doc researcher from Ukraine via #ScienceForUkraine. That is heart-warming! We also encourage our teachers and scientists to contribute to a better world through their teaching and/or research. As was done by the authors of the lesson package for primary and secondary schools (soon available in Dutch), and the various researchers who gave special lectures to explain the situation in Ukraine.