UK Universities and Educational Organisations supporting Ukraine

Sophie Bolam·11 April 2022·6 min read
UK Universities and Educational Organisations supporting Ukraine

The 24th of February saw the open invasion of Ukraine by Russia, with

missiles and airstrikes against the Ukrainian military and civilians across the country. More than 4.3 million refugees have since left Ukraine, scattering across the world attempting to seek asylum. As of the end of 31st March, the UK has issued 24,400 visas under the family visa scheme, which allows Ukrainians with a family member of British nationality or other forms of permanent residence to come to the UK. The UK government has additionally launched the “Homes for Ukraine ” scheme that allows UK citizens to host Ukrainians who are known to them but do not have family ties, more than 100,000 people registered for the scheme on the first day. 4,700 such sponsorship vias have been issued from 32,200 applications throughout March, however, the system has been criticised for being overly complex. A cross-party group of MPs and peers have since called for the visa scheme to extend to specifically place students and academics.

Universities UK statement

Meanwhile, universities and student accommodation providers, across the country are publicly stating their support for Ukraine and condemning the actions of the Russian regime. Universities UK also updated their statement on the 7th of April committing themselves to support Ukrainian staff and students. They also welcomed the UK Government’s £3 million package of support for at-risk, Ukrainian researchers to continue their work in the UK. To aid in this national effort, many universities are offering practical responses specifically to aid refugees, students, and academics who are affected by the conflict, whether they are already in the UK or still in Ukraine.

King’s College London and Citizen’s UK blueprint for university support

King’s College London sprung into action, ahead of many universities, by partnering with Citizen’s UK to formulate a sponsorship model for UK universities to implement the Homes for Ukraine Scheme. The model aims to provide university communities with a blueprint, through a range of resources, on how to best host displaced students and academics. The university has also pledged to provide financial aid for students, coming to the UK, outside of the £350 a month, covered by government funding.

Jonathan Cox, Deputy Director of Citizens UK said: “We are delighted that King’s College London is working with us to help resettle Ukrainian refugees, and co-ordinate the higher education sector to respond to the crisis. Together we can help this scheme reach scale, ensure that it is safe for refugees and sponsors alike, become sustainable beyond the initial six months, and support universities and other civil society organisations to be at the forefront of the UK’s humanitarian sponsorship scheme for Ukraine.”

The University-owned and Purpose Built Student Accommodation offered to refugees

The University of Worcester was also the first to announce that they would provide two of their recently refurbished and vacant halls of residence to Ukrainian refugees at their St Johns campus for refugees coming to the UK. Readying themselves as a “reception centre” for fleeing Ukrainian they are also promising financial aid to those who have been displaced which has been raised through university-wide fundraising schemes.

Similarly, Irish Higher Education Minister, Simon Harris, announced last month that Irish colleges and universities will make student beds available to Ukrainian refugees when they become vacant at the end of the term. To date, more than 1,000 beds have been offered across Ireland and colleges and universities will allow Ukrainian students to continue their studies. He also announced that Purpose Built Student Accommodation companies are also working with Irish local authorities to help identify appropriate accommodation that could be offered to migrants.

The Council for At-Risk Academics

Many universities are also collaborating with the Council for At-Risk Academics Fellowship Programme (CARA), which helps academics a “who are being forced to flee by the risk of imminent imprisonment, injury or death, and works with them to find them temporary refuge in universities and research institutions until they can one day return home to help re-build better safer societies”. Universities such as UCL recognise the contributions of Ukrainian academics to scholarly fields and have thus pledged to support displaced academic staff. The University of Lincoln for example is developing support packages that will allow academics to continue their work for at least six months in the UK- as well as 15 undergraduate students and 5 postgraduate students.

Support for Ukrainian Students in the UK

In addition to the outpouring of support for refugees in Ukraine, universities and higher education organisations have also collated a range of resources to support Ukrainian students who may already be in the UK or those who may have ties with and be affected by the crisis. Universities’ regular well-being support and facilities are welcoming students concerned about loved ones in Ukraine, Russia, and Belarus to discuss what is a challenging time for all. Universities such as Bath Spa have additionally introduced therapeutic workshops to help students normalise their emotions and learn effective strategies for self-care and self-regulation. We have also included some links below to resources for students who are affected.

Resources for those affected:

List of International Universities helping Ukrainian Students:

The UK Council for International Student Affairs is supporting international students by providing advice on visa’s, immigration, and more:

Student Space offer well-being support to students affected by the conflict: text ‘STUDENT’ to 85258 to start a conversation