Message from the Vice-Chancellor - Situation in Ukraine
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 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 those 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, please 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 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.
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 Your wellbeing or Personal Tutor.
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.
Professor Adam Tickell
Vice-Chancellor and Principal