War Disrupts Education in Ukraine

Concern over Ukrainian students’ futures rise as universities return to online instruction amidst the war.

As we surpass a month since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, over 4 million Ukrainian refugees have fled to neighboring countries including Poland, Romania, and the Republic of Moldova.

Many of those who have crossed borders to escape the country are university students whose education has been disrupted by the war.

Some universities in Ukraine have resumed class instruction online, but as students continue to seek aid and shelter in both their home and neighboring countries, questions and concerns over their uncertain futures have been raised.

“Are the teachers safe enough to give us classes? Are all students able to take those online classes?” asks Yousef Wassef, an international medical student at V.N. Karazin Kharkiv National University whose classes just resumed online.

Wassef was visiting the United Arab Emirates when the invasion of Ukraine began, however, many of his peers witnessed their university’s destruction in the city of Kharkiv.

Yousef says, “from the stories my friends told me, from the videos they showed me walking down the streets of what once was our beloved city, it just looks so messed up and destroyed… it’s just heartbreaking.”

The scene of a fire at the Economy Department building of Karazin Kharkiv National University, hit during recent shelling by Russia, on March 2, 2022.

This destruction has made it even more difficult for international students to transfer to other universities. Wassef explains that he is unable to access his transcripts to transfer to another university.

“My transcripts are in the university, and for me to get access I need someone inside the university to send them to me.” Says Yousef.

As many students escape to neighboring countries, some universities have temporarily waived their requirements for a transcript and are accepting applicants mid-school year.

However, this help does not come without its challenges as syllabi differ between different universities.

“They don’t know if my subjects correspond with their syllabus of a third-year medical student studying, for example, in Poland.”

Wassef believes that even if the region were to see some stability soon, education in Ukraine will still have a long journey until its recovery.

“Maybe one day, after a couple of years, and maybe after a couple attempts of restoration… I don’t think even then it will go back to the way it was.”

To help support students in Ukraine, V.N. Karazin Kharkiv National University is requesting financial aid to help support their students, faculty, and staff. Currently, the institution is accepting donations via PayPal.

Other ways to help assist students fleeing war can be found on this website.

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