Plea to the European governments: support Ukrainian students and academics! Erasmus Student Network (ESN)
Monday, 7 March, 2022 – 10:53
The European Students Union, the Erasmus Student Network, the European Union of Jewish Students, the European University Association, Scholars At Risk, the Tertiary Refugee Student Network and the Norwegian Students’ and Academics’ International Assistance Fund reiterate the Statement addressing the renewed Russian Aggression towards Ukraine, expressing solidarity with the Ukrainian people and all the educators and learners in the country as well as in the neighbouring territories that are suffering due to Russia’s war of aggression and a progressively developing full-scale invasion. The signatory organisations express their solidarity with the Ukrainian people and call for the restoration of peace and diplomacy.
Ukraine, as a full member of the European Higher Education Area since 2005, had demonstrated efforts and commitment in stepping into the family of Bologna Countries, to whom the basis of cooperation are the fundamental academic values, freedom of expression and the strive for achieving a democratic society.
The current circumstances call for solidarity with and immediate support for the Ukrainian Students and the academic community. We cannot foresee how future events will unfold but we call upon the academic community to take every necessary effort to support any solidarity actions. The President of the European Commission Ursula von der Leyen has stated that Ukrainians are ‘welcome’ on the EU territory and that the EU is ready to immediately host them if necessary.
Along with the students from Ukraine, we are aware of the uncertain situation international students in Ukraine are facing. Amid the desperate situation the whole country is facing, we call on their home governments to provide special support to their nationals and provide them with safety and security. We also want to reiterate our view that everyone has the right to cross international borders during conflict independently of their nationality or racial identity. In other countries, Ukrainian mobile students should be offered support adjusted to their needs and their safety should be guaranteed. If needed, visa periods and scholarships should be extended if students wish to remain in their hosting cities.
So far, student unions from Bulgaria, Czechia, Denmark, Estonia, Faroe Islands, Finland, France, Germany, Iceland, Italy, Latvia, Poland, Romania, Slovakia, Sweden, Switzerland and the UK are calling their governments to create humanitarian corridors and to help students and academics continue to pursue their academic life in their countries. Many more are joining them, and many more are showing solidarity with Ukraine and condemning the Russian invasion. Now more than ever, it is time for European governments and European institutions to demonstrate their commitments to defend democracy, human rights and the rule of law.
We call on the Ministries of Higher Education and Higher Education Institutions in the European Higher Education Area to:
- Use all the available resources to support and protect the lives of students and academics based in Ukraine;
- Provide all the available means of transportation towards hosting universities, as well as all other education institutions (including adult centres, training facilities, learning communities), and coordinate relocation actions from the Ukrainian border;
- Provide any available space in student dormitories or spaces in the Higher Education Institutions as shelters wherever needed, as well as in all other education institutions;
- Provide a fast lane of scholarships and studying opportunities for Ukrainian students going into exile;
- Limit, as much as possible, any visa hurdles to enter that Ukrainians fleeing their country could face;
- Set up scholarships schemes for students and academics, taking example from the Norwegian and German experiences of the Students At-Risk programmes and the EU scholarship scheme for Belarusian students.
Furthermore, we call the European Commission, the European Parliament, the European Council and all the other EU institutions, as well as the Member States, to:
- Create the possibility for Ukrainians to find a secure place in Europe, in cooperation with UN authorities and agencies;
- Make sure that the evacuation from the country ensures the principles of equal treatment for all the people fleeing the war;
- Support Higher Education Institutions in swiftly setting up places for students and academics to stay and continue their academic life;
- Establish a dedicated EU support scheme for students at risk including students from Ukraine, and new national students at-risk programmes such as those in Germany and Norway.
- Establish a dedicated EU fellowship scheme for researchers at risk, as proposed by the Inspireurope project, including researchers and scholars from Ukraine, and new national fellowship programmes such as those in France and Germany.