University hopes refugee from Ukraine: “We need more than just scholarships” – Knowledge

Julia von Blumenthal, president of the European University Vaidrina in Frankfurt (Oder), said: “We can do very little like the European University Vaidrina.” And yet Vyadrina is not only geographically closest to the war in Ukraine. Its partner universities include Kharkiv, which has already been severely damaged by Russian missiles.

Viadrina has a large team of 150 Ukrainian students and staff. He is the only professor of Ukrainian history in Germany. And, like many other universities, it is developing programs to take in Ukrainian refugees.

What Europa-University does: As Julia von Blumenthal said at the beginning of the Zoom event, “listen to the people of Ukraine in this incredible situation and talk to them directly.” Officially, it was supposed to be about “the image of Ukraine in Germany and the study of Ukraine in times of crisis.” A doctoral student from Kiev’s Vyadrina, whose existential crisis as a young father could rarely be in a city surrounded by enemy troops, was from the country.

[Alle aktuellen Entwicklungen im Ukraine-Krieg können Sie hier in unserem Newsblog verfolgen.]

The doctoral student reported that he was only able to persuade his wife and parents to leave Ukraine with the children and move to Germany. For his protection, his name will not be given. Family farewell is imminent. He stays, has to stay, wants to stay.

Complex history has turned into ‘nationalism’.

The young philosopher, who teaches German in Kiev, says he is clearly grateful that Germany is now willing to take in Ukrainian refugees. But to have a fundamentally different, new relationship with Ukraine – “not just for the next few days and weeks, but for the next few decades” – will have to overcome many prejudices. “They come out with very deep and positive things.”

Andrei Portov, professor of Entangled History of Ukraine at Vyadrina, clearly addresses only what the doctoral student points out: Ukraine is always seen in connection with Russia, scientifically, for example, as part of Eastern European research. Its complex, fascinating and multifaceted history has been shortened to the concept of “nationalism” and its religious and linguistic diversity has been described as “divisive”.

[Lesen Sie auch unser Interview mit einer Lwiwer Germanistin: “Warum gibt es so wenig Empathie mit den Ukrainern?”]

“The image of Ukraine in Germany is made up of a number of basic clichs, which will eventually form the basis of an honest and critical discussion,” Portanov summed up. So it’s time to take Ukrainian place names seriously: anyone who insisted that it should be called Kiev and Dnipro instead of Kiev and Dnipro was told long ago that it was nationalist.

“We need chairs and seats.”

Unfortunately, Russia has embraced the war against Ukraine “in order to be heard as an equal voice of its Ukrainian counterparts”, and has appealed: now that the huge influx of refugees from Ukraine to the West will undoubtedly bring many researchers to Germany, it needs a “strategic solution” “We need chairs and positions, not just scholarships.”

At the Vyadrina event, Green Party politician Rebecca Harmes had a voice for an in-depth understanding of Ukrainian culture and history. He has been involved in Ukraine’s civil society for decades and warned: “If a lot of trained people, scientists, journalists come to us now, we need to make sure that they can work in their profession at a German university, in the media. So far,” he said. The openness of the Ukrainians to be directly involved and allowed to speak is very weak. “

Julia von Blumenthal is the President of the European University Vyadrina in Frankfurt (Oder) until the summer of 2022 and is changing …Photo: Patrick Pliol / DPA-GentleBuild / DPA

Annette Warburger, professor of Eastern European literature at Vyadrina and moderator of the event, makes it clear that there is a general hope for research in Russia so far: “As a Slavic scholar, young Ukrainians expect a colonization of Eastern European research.

Emergency relief fund for Ukrainian students

There is still much to be done scientifically, even if emergency aid for refugees will be the focus in the near future. It is already running in many universities and research institutes and their umbrella institutes. And not just Ukraine, but Russia as well.

In Viadrina, for example, preparatory courses for incoming Ukrainian refugees are being expanded, accommodation is being provided and accommodation is being arranged in collaboration with the student union, reports European University. The University of Berlin, along with the Technical University and Humboldt University, has announced that it will set up an emergency aid fund for Ukrainian students.

“We will not leave our Ukrainian fellow students and our Ukrainian colleagues alone,” explained Eun Villain, a representative of the HU Presidential Board for International Affairs and Europe. The three major Berlin universities and the Charity Berlin University Alliance wanted to consolidate their offers. Integrated closely with all scientific organizations, and in particular with the German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD).

Material exchange stops, communication remains

In early March, DAAD called for a federal government support program for German universities to bring together Ukrainian students, researchers and teachers. DAAD President Jayabrato Mukherjee explained, “If we envision a long war in Ukraine or a massive Russian occupation of the country, we will have to count on the large number of Ukrainians who will come to us and who we will take care of,” explained DAAD President Jayabrato Mukherjee. . . DAAD has previously stated that Russian students and researchers studying here were not affected by the scientific sanctions imposed on the Russian Federation.

Russian President Vladimir Putin at his residence outside Moscow on March 4, 2022.Photo: Sputnik / Andrei Gorshkov / Kremlin via Reuters

At least at the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation, there are already specific considerations for aid programs – from Ukraine and from Russia. “Researchers who are threatened by war or political reasons are given bureaucratic support and shelter,” it says. Institutional and material exchanges with Russia have stalled, “however, communication will continue.”

The Foundation offers scholarship extensions and special accommodations for alumni who are currently sponsored – eight from Ukraine and 31 from Russia with the AVH Foundation in Germany – as well as formerly sponsored alumni (750 in Russia, over 100 in Ukraine).

Help for serious Russians who are under threat

This also applies to Russian recipients “who are threatened by their critical attitude towards the war”. Due to the war and nomination process, the application deadline for this round was extended to March 18 for the Filipp Schwartz Initiative Fellowship, which can be applied by endangered and refugee researchers in Ukraine. Simplified

The Alexander von Humboldt Foundation is already determining the amount of additional costs for these and other planned programs. At least 23 million euros will be needed for the next three years. “Quick and flexible assistance for Ukrainian scientists is now as important as sending a signal to the Russian leadership that we are in solidarity with Ukraine and strongly condemn the Russian aggression,” said Hans-Christian Pep, president of the foundation.

At the same time, they do not want to “punish” Russian researchers who “boldly opposed the war and spoke out against the Russian government’s move.” Pep emphasizes: “We provide protection and support to everyone who is committed to understanding and cooperating.”

The Volkswagen Foundation is also expanding its scholarship program, which was previously for refugees from Afghanistan, Syria and Turkey. For six to twelve months, Ukrainian doctoral students or postdocs can apply for a monthly grant of 1,500 or 2,100 euros.

Russian rectors support Putin

Although thousands of Russian academics, including 3,500 alumni of Moscow’s Lomonosov University, have reportedly taken a stand against Ukraine’s war on aggression, a statement from Russian university rectors hit a completely different tone.

“It is Russia’s decision to finally end the eight-year conflict between Ukraine and Donbass, achieve Ukraine’s disarmament and alienation, and thus protect itself from the growing military threat,” Rosizczyk Suzuki Rektorov said in a letter. The first signatory was Victor Antonovits Sadonitchiz, Rector of Lomonosov University.

The letter, which reads like a warning against further anti-war appeals and solidarity calls to Ukraine, “ends by urging an effective mobilization around our president, giving our youth an example of optimism and faith in the power of reason and awakening hope.” Early peace “.

In the event that Russian academics critical of the war on aggression should seek refuge in the West, Vyadrina President Julia von Blumenthal refers to programs for endangered educators, such as the Philip Schwartz Initiative. They must be open to Russian researchers. “In this context, we are committed – despite the suspension of all official relations – to support Belarus’s opposition and to promote endangered scientists and students.” So far, no endangered species has been reported from Russia. (With kicks)

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