19 December 2022

UEA and Ukraine in 2022

Student at UEA draped with Ukraine flag

In what has been a difficult year for those affected by the conflict in Ukraine, staff and students have shown their support in many different ways. From last week’s twinning symposium event to staff members opening up their homes, UEA has shown solidarity and compassion throughout 2022. 

Since the Russian invasion of Ukraine on Thursday 24 February, staff and students across the University have worked together, and in partnership with other organisations, to find the ways and means to not only offer families a safe, secure environment to live and study in, but to generate opportunities so that those escaping or affected by the conflict can build a positive future for themselves. 

Take a look back at some of the stories of support from UEA this year, introduce some new initiatives, and focus in on last week’s research symposium between UEA and Vasyl Stefanyk Precarpathian National University (PNU).

Research symposium 

On Wednesday 14 December, after months of planning and conversation, more than 130 attendees from UEA and PNU came together online to share ideas, experiences, and generate ideas for future collaboration work between the two institutions. Attendees were invited to participate in one of the three breakout groups, exploring the two universities’ research themes of ‘Culture, Creativity & Belief’, ‘Rethinking Society’, and ‘Human Health and Natural Environments’.  

Prof Matthias Neumann from the School of History and a leading member of the symposium working group said: “The research symposium with PNU was the culmination of an idea we’ve been working towards for much of 2022. It was fantastic to see so many colleagues from across UEA and PNU coming together to share ideas and discuss ways in which our twinned universities can collaborate on some of the most interesting and essential research topics of our time.” 

Housing Ukrainian refugees

Several members of the UEA community generously opened their doors to Ukrainians seeking refuge, as part of the ‘Homes for Ukraine’ scheme this year.
One such person was Laura Potts, News and Media Manager in UEA’s Content and Communications team. Back in June, Laura spoke about opening her home to a mother and son from Ukraine as they began a new life in Norwich.
With support from Laura and her family, the mother and son will soon be taking another big step by moving to a home of their own, settling into village life just outside of the city and becoming a part of the diverse, welcoming community that makes Norfolk such a fine place to live. 

Laura said: “My family have been moved by the strength and courage our guests have shown in starting a new life in England and felt fortunate to share this time with them. We will still be very much part of each other’s lives as they settle into their own home nearby, and we are gratified to have made such good friends and learned a great deal about their rich culture.”

Ukraine crisis working group 

The working group was formed earlier in the year, with a focus on Ukrainians settling in the local area, and has a cross-departmental membership that includes representation from UEA Global, Communications & Advocacy, History, and Student Services. 

At the beginning of the conflict, many staff volunteered to host families as part of the ‘Homes for Ukraine’ scheme. UEA also contributed to a fundraiser for Karazin Kharkiv University, the University’s Aurora network partner.

Additionally, the team has delivered special admission events where attendees are able to speak with recruitment specialists and enjoy a tour of the campus. 
Most recently, the working group has focused on fostering relations with higher education partners as part of the Universities UK International (UUKi) twinning initiative with PNU, which became official in September. 

The group is also remaining involved with the recent virtual research symposium, which brought together more than 100 academics and postgraduate students from both universities and have been looking to provide opportunities for PNU students to study abroad at UEA (semester and summer), in addition to planning the facilitation of virtual seminars as they are delivered to Ukrainian postgraduate students. 

Student protest

In early March, more than 300 students gathered in The Square to protest the invasion of Ukraine by Russian forces. The event featured speakers from communities affected by the conflict, including Russian and Ukrainian students, as well a two-minute silence in honour of those who sadly lost their lives during the invasion. The protest was organised by two members of the Russian Speaking Society: Ekaterina Dudakova, from the School of Literature, Drama and Creative Writing and Anastasiia Medvedieva, from the School of Psychology. 

University of Sanctuary scholarship 

Norwich is one of over 70 locations across the UK to be named a City of Sanctuary and has a proud history of welcoming refugees and asylum seekers. Perhaps most famously in the 16th century, when people who were escaping religious persecution arrived and gave the city a burst of creativity, prosperity, and a lasting affinity with canaries. 

UEA is equally proud to be an accredited University of Sanctuary, proving an ongoing commitment to creating a welcoming culture of inclusivity and awareness.
As part of UEA’s University of Sanctuary commitment, a 40-strong cross-departmental steering group of staff and students oversee initiatives that seek to reduce barriers to participation in higher education faced by those seeking asylum, including the scholarship programme. 

UEA is now supporting more than 20 sanctuary students through a variety of different scholarships schemes, including the Master’s Sanctuary scholarships, which were released in direct response to the war in Ukraine.

Sanctuary students supported through scholarships at UEA are from a variety of countries. This includes Ukraine, alongside Afghanistan, Syria and other countries directly affected by conflict.

Find out more about the scholarship programme on the University of Sanctuary webpage.

Additional support and opportunities 

After an inspiring fundraising campaign led by medical students, including a number from Norwich Medical School, £8,741 was raised to provide urgent medical equipment for Okhmatdyt Children’s Hospital in Kyiv and Isida Clinic, Hospital of Ukraine. The group have now joined efforts with Baby Lifeline’s Ukraine appeal as a way to increase efficiency and provide the most aid possible for medical staff on the ground in Ukraine. 

UEA Student Action for Refugees (STAR), part of the 34,000 student-strong national STAR network, seeks to build a more understanding and just society where refugees are welcome and can thrive. UEA’s STAR team have been involved with a variety of fundraising and support projects, including organising volunteers to sort donations for Ukraine.

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