University response to the crisis in Ukraine

As a result of the terrible events that have unfolded in Ukraine, the University has been considering what actions it can take to support those affected, further details of which are outlined below.

The University Executive Board (UEB) has agreed to apply formally to become a University of Sanctuary and to increase significantly the number of Sanctuary (formerly Article 26) scholarships for refugee students, from 1 a year to 5.  The University is also working with other UK universities to develop the sector's response and we are working with our European partners—in particular, through our European alliance, EUniWell—to extend our support as much as we can. 

The University continues to make a clear distinction between the Russian government and Russian students, academics, and higher education institutions; however, there was a recent address by the Russian Union of Rectors endorsing the unprovoked and unjustified attack by the Government of Russia, and stating an aim to instil in young people support for aggression against others. As a consequence, and with immediate effect, the University cancelled all institutional agreements with any universities that have signed this statement—of which there are 8. All institutional activity between our University and them will cease, until it is clear that these institutions share our commitment to democracy, freedom and human rights. 

Maintaining individual contact with Russian academics and students remains the decision of the academic involved, who is best placed to make it. If you have any questions or concerns on this, then please do contact your College Director of Global Engagement or Professor Robin Mason, Pro-Vice-Chancellor (International).

Support for students and staff

The University has created a fund of £500,000 to be used flexibly through a variety of schemes to support students and staff. UEB has tasked Professor Robin Mason, the Pro-Vice-Chancellor (International), to oversee this fund, and the first allocations are being made. Please do contact Robin with any questions or comments that you have about how the University can best deploy this fund. 

The Minister of State for Higher and Further Education, Michelle Donelan MP, has written to Ukrainian students, outlining some of the additional support that the Department for Education is making available to support them during this time. You can read a copy of this letter here.

Academics at risk

If you are aware of any Ukrainian academics who are seeking to come to the UK and whom the University can host, please in the first instance contact the relevant Director of Global Engagement (DoGE)

The DoGE will help you to assess whether the University of Birmingham is the best match for the academic and whether there is capacity in the relevant department, School or Institute. We will then expedite an application to the Council for At-Risk Academics (Cara), who are the experts in dealing with refugee academics and their immediate family.  The University has been a long-standing supporter of CARA and we have increased our financial commitment by up to £100,000.

Twinning partnership with Ivan Franko National University of Lviv (IFNUL)

IFNUL is the oldest institution of higher learning in present-day Ukraine, dating from 1661. We have been working actively with colleagues from IFNUL, identifying areas in which we are able to support their current needs (for example, access to library and online resources); where there is potential for immediate academic collaboration (for example, international relations and security studies; Eastern European language and culture); and where we can work over the longer-term to deepen our partnerships (for example, joint programmes, student and staff exchange, etc.). IFNUL are very open to working with UoB staff in any area, so if you are interested in being part of the partnership, then please contact your respective College Director of Global Engagement, or Dr Erica Arthur in Birmingham Global, who can help to establish links.

How you can help

Many people are asking what they can do to help. Below are some links to organisations through which donations can be made, if this is something you would like to do:

Personal support

If you as a member of the University community are affected by these events, please do contact Workplace Wellbeing, or your Head of your academic unit (Department/School/Institute), or team, if you are a staff member; or Your wellbeing or Personal Tutor, if you are a student.

We understand, though, that some may prefer a more informal means of support. We are facilitating a support network for staff from Ukraine, Russia and Belarus, to provide an opportunity to meet, share experiences, and just talk. If you think you would find this helpful, then please contact the Director of Global Engagement listed above or your HR Business Partner, who can connect you to the network:

All-staff communications regarding the crisis in Ukraine

Message from Pro-Vice-Chancellor (International), Professor Robin Mason ORB

Dear colleagues,

 You may remember that in March this year, the University Executive Board created a fund of £500,000 to be used flexibly through a variety of schemes to support students and staff affected by the war in Ukraine. Over the last two months, we have been working hard to provide support in a number of different ways.

To date, we have awarded more than £150,000 in direct support payments, fee waivers and living cost bursaries to some of our current and prospective students based upon their individual needs – supporting 13 individuals.  Support has been prioritised for students from Ukraine but has also included support, as needed, for Russian students who have been affected by the situation.

As a result, we will be welcoming a number of new students, who have been displaced from their studies at home in Ukraine, to commence study at the University in September.  We are expecting the first of this group of students to join us in Birmingham in July.  They will be able to benefit from free accommodation for the summer and free pre-sessional English support from the Birmingham International Academy, as well as help with settling into life in the UK, with kitchen and bedding packs on arrival and a three-month free Sports & Fitness membership.

We are now fully committed to new students through one of our directly funded schemes, however the Government confirmed that students from Ukraine are now eligible to apply for a university place through normal UCAS routes. Students from Ukraine can also now access home student fees, tuition fee loans and maintenance loans, and are entitled to work in the UK (for up to 3 years) through one of three established national schemes. 

Our offer of support on arrival is also extended to new staff fellows that we are seeking to host through the Council for At-Risk Academics (CARA). The University has been a long-standing supporter of CARA and we have increased our financial commitment by up to £100,000, with support currently being offered to three additional Ukrainian academics to join us in Birmingham.

As well as support for staff and students, the University is developing a twinning partnership with Ivan Franko National University of Lviv (IFNUL). IFNUL is the oldest institution of higher learning in present-day Ukraine, dating from 1661. We have been working actively with colleagues from IFNUL over the last month, identifying areas in which we are able to support their current needs (for example, access to library and online resources); where there is potential for immediate academic collaboration (for example, international relations and security studies; Eastern European language and culture); and where we can work over the longer-term to deepen our partnerships (for example, joint programmes, student and staff exchange, etc.). IFNUL are very open to working with UoB staff in any area, so if you are interested in being part of the partnership, then please contact your respective College Director of Global Engagement, or Dr Erica Arthur in Birmingham Global, who can help to establish links.

Lastly, I would also like to express my thanks to those across the University who have been working to make all of this happen. It is heartening to see colleagues working together to support those in such a distressing situation, as well as the creative ways we are finding to express our support.

Best wishes

Robin
Professor Robin Mason ORB
Pro-Vice-Chancellor (International)
University of Birmingham 

Message from the Vice-Chancellor: 14.03.22

Dear colleagues,

When I wrote last week, I mentioned that UEB would be considering a package of support for students (current, displaced and future) and staff affected by Russia's invasion of Ukraine. I am pleased to say that we have created a fund of £500,000 to be used flexibly through a variety of schemes to support students and staff. UEB has tasked Professor Robin Mason, the Pro-Vice-Chancellor (International), to oversee this fund, and the first allocations are being made as I write. Please do contact Robin with any questions or comments that you have about how we can best deploy this fund. 

I also mentioned that we would be reviewing all our Russian engagement. We continue to make a clear distinction between the Russian government and Russian students, academics, and higher education institutions; however, I regret to say that there has been a recent address by the Russian Union of Rectors endorsing the unprovoked and unjustified attack by the Government of Russia, and stating an aim to instil in young people support for aggression against others. As a consequence, and with immediate effect, we have cancelled all institutional agreements with any universities that have signed this statement—of which there are 8. All institutional activity between our University and them will cease, until it is clear that these institutions share our commitment to democracy, freedom and human rights. Maintaining individual contact with Russian academics and students remains the decision of the academic involved, who is best placed to make it. If you have any questions or concerns on this, then please do contact your College Director of Global Engagement or Robin.

Can I repeat my thanks to everyone who has responded so generously to offer support. In addition, our academics continue to offer insights into Russia's invasion of Ukraine, in the BBC, Channel 4, the Conversation, CNN, the New York Times, and other places. We'll continue to offer support and insight for as long as this dreadful war continues, and beyond.

Best wishes
Adam

Professor Adam Tickell
Vice-Chancellor and Principal
University of Birmingham

Message from the Vice-Chancellor: 04.03.22

Dear colleagues,

We have all watched in horror as events have unfolded over the last week in Ukraine. The Russian government's actions, in its unprovoked and unjustified attack on the sovereign nation of Ukraine, should be condemned unequivocally.

We need to do more than condemn, of course—and like you we have all been considering what we can do individually, and as the University Executive Board (UEB) we have also been considering what more we can do as a University.

Most urgently, we have acted to ensure the safety of our students and staff in the region, and the well-being of students and staff from the region. I would like to give particular thanks to many colleagues who have worked tirelessly over the last week and longer to ensure that our students are safe and supported, and to ensure that students who were in the region for study abroad and exchanges have been able to leave safely. I am also particularly mindful of our students, staff and alumni from the region who are a long way from home and family in a difficult time. While we are making every effort to support all affected, could I repeat my request that you let me know of any student or member of staff that you're concerned about.

I have been struck by and proud of the way that the Birmingham community has responded to the situation: the University itself, the Guild of Students, the Chaplaincy, many individual staff members and students.

The University executive agreed this week to apply formally to become a University of Sanctuary; and to increase significantly the number of Sanctuary (formerly Article 26) scholarships for refugee students, from 1 a year to 5. (Thank you to many of you who have shown your commitment to this issue through the University of Birmingham University of Sanctuary Hub). I have asked that we do more, specifically for Ukrainians. We will consider on Monday a package of support for our current students, displaced students this year, and students who wish to study at Birmingham in future. The package will also have more support for displaced academics, via our membership of the Council for At-Risk Academics (Cara).

We are also working with other UK universities to develop the sector's response. And we are working with our European partners—in particular, through our European alliance, EUniWell—to extend our support as much as we can. 

I think it important that we all continue to make a clear distinction between the Russian government, and the Russian people. We are reviewing all our Russian engagement, looking especially closely at any links to Russian state institutions. The University has only a very small number of research projects involving Russian partners, none of which are Russian-state funded. In addition to supporting Ukrainian students and academics, we want to continue support for Russian colleagues and students and higher education institutions affected by this situation, many of whom are long-standing partners, colleagues and friends, who bear no responsibility for this war. 

Our academics have been providing expert commentary on the issues across global media as well as on our own platforms and a small example of these is below.

I know that many of you are asking what you can do to help. You might want to consider donating to the Council of At-Risk Academics, or the British Red Cross Ukraine Appeal; the UNHCR; and other links provided by the Ukrainian Institute, London.

Finally, if you as a member of the University community are affected by these events, please do contact Workplace Wellbeing, or your Head of your academic unit (Department/School/Institute), or team, if you are a staff member; or Your wellbeing or Personal Tutor, if you are a student.

Let us hope for a quick end to the aggression and return to peace. In the meantime, let us do everything we can to support each other through this terrible episode in European history.

Best wishes
Adam

Professor Adam Tickell
Vice-Chancellor and Principal
University of Birmingham

Message from Internal Comms: 28.02.22

We understand that the situation in Ukraine and Russia may be distressing for our staff and students, particularly those with family, friends or other connections who may be affected.  We are closely monitoring the situation and are reaching out to members of our community who are directly impacted, including those currently working and studying in the wider region, to offer and provide support.  If you are concerned regarding any staff or students who may be in the region or affected, then please let us know as a matter of urgency. We also strongly encourage all staff and students to follow the latest Foreign and Commonwealth Development Office (FCDO) advice.

Support for students – students can talk to their School Wellbeing Officers  or access a range of mental health and wellbeing support via the Your Wellbeing pages on the intranet.

Support for staff -  staff can contact the University’s Employee Assistance Programme 24 hours a day 7 days a week and can also speak to their line manager or their HR team about other support that may be available.