Six months on, here’s what UK universities have actually done to help Ukrainian refugees

A lot of empty promises

It has now been six months since the outbreak of the war in Ukraine. When Putin first invaded the country in March forcing thousands to flee their homes, universities up and down the UK started making pledges on all the ways they were planning to help Ukranian refugees. This support from UK universities included cutting all formal links with Russia, plans to take on Ukrainian student refugees and some universities even planning to repurpose unused buildings to house refugees under the government’s Homes for Ukraine Scheme.

Some universities around the country also announced a partnership with universities in Ukraine. Universities that take part in the scheme were partnered, or “twinned”, with their Ukrainian counterparts for a minimum of five years. As of 28th June, 71 UK universities were taking part in the scheme and had been partnered with Ukrainian institutions, with another eight agreements in the process of being finalised. 17 of the 24 Russell Group universities are taking part in the scheme, including Cambridge, Durham, Edinburgh, Nottingham and, Queen Mary’s.

But aside from partnering up, how many of the UK universities actually stayed to true to the pledges they made six months ago and fulfilled the promises they made as an institution to help Ukrainian student refugees and those displaced by conflict? Despite what they promised, here’s what UK unis have actually done:

University of Worcester

The University of Worcester announced in March this year that it would be offering up two newly refurbished halls of residence to house refugees fleeing the war in Ukraine. However, a university spokesperson told The Tab that government officials did not accept the university’s offer and the buildings were not used for housing.

University of Lincoln

The University of Lincoln offered 20 Ukrainian students the opportunity to transfer to the university to “enable them to continue their study and work, and to live in a welcoming and supportive environment.”

The 15 undergraduates and five postgraduates who are part of the scheme will not have to pay tuition fees and will receive a bursary to cover the cost of their accommodation.

University of Lincoln top The Tab it has now filled all 20 spaces and is hoping to take on at least another 25 students on top of this. The 20 students are all living in university halls and will be starting their courses alongside the new cohort at the start of the academic year.

The University of Edinburgh

Edinburgh launched a new scholarship called the Sanctuary Scholarship to help displaced students who are seeking asylum to come to Edinburgh. University of Edinburgh told The Tab that the Sanctuary Scholarships fund expects to make a number of offers soon.

Alongside this, the university has been offering free English tuition classes to refugees and also partnered with Taras Shevchenko National University of Kyiv.

University of Nottingham

The University of Nottingham planned to repurpose unused buildings to house Ukrainian refugees displaced by the ongoing conflict.

The uni also hoped to enable students and academics from Ukraine to transfer and continue their work in Nottingham.

A University of Nottingham spokesperson said: “Nottingham is one of 71 UK universities to have signed up for UUKi’s ‘twinning’ scheme and is due to sign a formal partnership agreement with the Ukrainian Catholic University, Lviv, on 31 August.

“As a result, we are currently finalising plans to support them in continuing teaching and learning for their students during the disruption caused by the Russian invasion of Ukraine, with University of Nottingham academics supporting UCU faculty by teaching on a pro-bono basis. Other plans include a research collaboration workshop in September and a summer school on campus for 50 Ukrainian students next year.

“The University of Nottingham Ukrainian Scholars at Risk Scheme has supported four post-doctoral researchers in partnership with the British Academy Researchers at Risk Scheme by providing an award to cover accommodation, living costs, and an annual research consumables award. The scheme is also providing full support to cover fees, accommodation, living costs, and visa/Immigration Health Surcharge for one PhD student. The remaining scholars will be arriving within the next month.”

University of York

Earlier this year the University of York was looking to provide a refuge for displaced Ukrainian academics and students and launched its Equal Access Fund which received donations amounting to £200,00. Thanks to the fund, York will be welcoming a small cohort of Ukrainian students to the university in September.

A University of York spokesperson said: “York is a welcoming and safe place for refugees, asylum seekers and other people who have been forced to migrate, and, as a University of Sanctuary, we are proud to be offering a package of support to a small cohort of students from Ukraine this September.

“Thanks to generous donations, we are able to support these students by covering their living costs and providing tuition fee waivers. University staff have been helping the students with the practical elements of coming to the UK, including processing visa applications and booking flights, and we are looking forward to welcoming them to our campus and community.”

University of Cambridge

In June, Cambridge launched a Ukrainian refugee support package called Cambridge University Help for Ukraine. University of Cambridge told The Tab that applications for the package are currently under review with successful applicants to be announced in September.

The university has also taken on 20 Ukrainian medical students who have already arrived and embarked on their training programmes.

The Tab also contacted Imperial College London and University College London for an update on their continued support for Ukraine. 

Related articles recommended by this author:

• UK unis are partnering with Ukrainian universities, but what does it actually mean?

• Here’s everything going on with Russia and Ukraine explained as simply as we can

• Ukrainian A-Level student lands Durham Uni place as his dad fights on the front line

Featured image via Unsplash