Attack on Ukraine condemned by sector
Stakeholders across the international education sector have condemned the “senseless escalation of war” in Ukraine, after Russian forces began a full-scale attack on February 24.
The Presidents’ Alliance on Higher Education and Immigration came together to call on the US secretaries of defence and state to “designate Ukraine for Temporary Protected Status” and student relief after it was deemed it is “unsafe for Ukrainians to return”.
“International students in Ukraine will likely face significant obstacles and complexities in the coming weeks, months and years,” said executive director Miriam Feldblum.
“Uncertainty over their courses or ability to remain in the US should not be one of those obstacles,” she added.
TPS would provide work permits and protection from deportation for those who “cannot safely return” to their home country, so the Presidents’ Alliance is pushing for its instalment in the Ukrainian case as soon as possible.
“A failure to utilise TPS promptly would be an abdication of this administration’s duties”
For international students, Special Student Relief would prevent international students from Ukraine currently studying in the US from losing their F-1 visa status while the conflict continues.
“This conflict represents the most significant attack on a European country since World War II,” said Jose Magaña-Salgado, policy and communications director at the Presidents’ Alliance.
“A failure to utilise TPS promptly and expeditiously would be an abdication of this administration’s duties to Ukrainian nationals in the US, and commitment to humanitarian protections and migrants,” he continued.
The American Councils for International Education joined the Presidents’ Alliance on condemning the Russian attack, having called the war “senseless”.
“For nearly 50 years, American Councils’ mission has been to create strong ties and mutual understanding between people and to help build prosperity and promote peace,” said president and CEO David P. Patton.
“It is towards these principles that we have worked in Ukraine and Russia since the 1970s and they will continue to drive our efforts in the future,” he added.
Universities UK International gave advice on its Twitter feed to British nationals, asking them to “follow the advice of the Ukrainian authorities while they remain in Ukraine”.
“The Russian invasion of Ukraine will affect many people across the higher education community, including but not limited to Ukrainian and Russian students and staff in the UK, and UK students and staff in Ukraine and Russia,” UUKi director Vivienne Stern told The PIE News.
“UUKi is working with universities and government departments to consider what support may be necessary for all affected staff and students – the Home Office has confirmed that Ukrainians who are on work, study or visit visas in the UK will have their visas temporarily extended or be able to switch onto different visa routes,” she added.
DAAD, the German academic exchange service, also expressed its support for Ukrainians amid the ongoing events.
“We are appalled by Russia’s attack on Ukraine and deeply concerned about the lives of the people and the wellbeing of our partner organisations in Ukraine,” a tweet read.
Nach dem Einmarsch der russischen Armee in die #Ukraine schränken wir den akademischen Austausch mit Russland ein. Zugleich bleiben wir als #DAAD unseren langjährigen Partnerinstitutionen in Russland verbunden. https://t.co/s4ny5qpprK @BMBF_Bund @AuswaertigesAmt @HRK_aktuell pic.twitter.com/mlEbzsii0e
— DAAD News (@DAAD_Germany) February 25, 2022
It continued in a thread that while it is “committed to our long-standing partner institutions” in Russia, it is restricting academic exchanges at this time.
AFS Intercultural Programs, while not having any current programs running in Ukraine, commended the secretary general of the United Nations Antonio Guterres and his call for “restraint, reason and de-escalation”.
“It is at times like this that the clarity and importance of the AFS mission is on full display.
“We have worked for over 100 years to build understand between people in order to avoid future wars – our network is dedicated to continuing the exchange of people and ideas… regardless of the political situations that may arise between nations,” a representative at AFS said.