Universities to offer 2,000 study places to Ukrainians

Higher education institutions in Finland are preparing to offer study spaces to 2,000 Ukrainians who have fled the Russian invasion, as a follow-up to a request from the Finnish Ministry of Education and Culture.

The study places will be offered to Ukrainians who were already in higher education institutions in their home country and want to continue their studies in Finland. Tuition fees will be waived.

Open University opportunities

Tampere University is offering study opportunities to students who arrive in Finland due to the humanitarian crisis caused by the war in Ukraine. The university grants rights to study in Open University and non-degree courses.

Students who obtain a right to study are exempt from tuition fees. Moreover, researchers can apply for fixed-term postdoctoral research fellow posts.

Tampere University’s English-language studies are aimed at bachelor and masters degree level students whose studies have been interrupted at a Ukrainian higher education institution. Applications will be processed until the end of 2022. The rights to study will be granted until 31 July 2023.

“We are discussing with our colleagues in Ukrainian universities what would be the most appropriate support measures. We are also looking at how we can support Ukrainian students with our scholarship schemes,” says Tampere University’s Vice President for Education Marja Sutela.

Tampere University has also opened a call for applications for five two-year fixed-term and full-time postdoctoral research fellow positions based in Tampere. This call is for Ukrainian post-docs who cannot continue their work in Ukraine due to the war and are seeking a temporary position abroad.

In addition, Tampere University is cooperating with the City of Tampere and other regional bodies to provide support for those who are fleeing Ukraine.

Free courses for Ukrainian students

Åbo Akademi University (ÅAU) is supporting Ukrainian students who have come to Finland by offering them the opportunity to take university courses free of charge.

Students at universities in Ukraine whose studies have been interrupted by the war can apply to take single or multiple courses as so-called extra students at ÅAU free of charge.

Extra students attend regular classes during the day on the same terms as other students but are not entitled to a degree.

Students can choose courses or course units from all four faculties. The English-language courses offered by ÅAU are mostly at masters level, but some English courses are also offered at bachelor degree level.

The Open University at ÅAU is offering its courses free of charge to Ukrainian students.

“Many students have been forced to flee because of the war, and we in the university community of course feel especially sympathetic towards them and want to support them. This is one way to do that,” says Stefan Willför, vice-rector and chair of the ÅAU Crisis Management Group.

“Åbo Akademi University is cooperating nationally with other universities to offer both students and researchers from Ukraine opportunities to study or work in Finland.”

Supplementary studies and courses at the Open University normally require tuition fees.

Heidi Ahokallio-Leppälä, vice president of Häme University of Applied Sciences (HAMK), told Yle News that the exact number of students arriving is not yet known.

Ahokallio-Leppälä said that institutions are examining what kind of English-language courses can be offered. For example, HAMK has 11 international university degrees, saying it was a good and comprehensive selection.

“We believe that we can help enhance the sorts of skills that will continue to be useful when [the students] return to their home country,” she said.

However, Ahokallio-Leppälä said that – at least at this stage – the Ukrainian students are not expected to finish their degrees in Finland.

Crisis fund for research and study

The University of Helsinki has launched a Crisis Fund and an emergency appeal. The money raised will be used to support researchers and students fleeing Ukraine who wish to move to Finland and conduct research or study at the University of Helsinki, as well as those already at the university.

The University of Helsinki is supporting the victims of the war in Ukraine with a donation of €50,000 (US$56,000) to UNICEF, from the income of the Helsinki University Funds (HYR).

The University Pharmacy has also supported Ukraine in the humanitarian crisis and has made two donations worth a total of €20,000 to those in need. The first donation was made through Operation HOPE and the second donation was made to the Finnish Red Cross Disaster Relief Fund.

In addition, the University Pharmacy has reduced is pharmacy chain in Russia and plans to exit the Russian market.

Helsinki Collegium for Advanced Studies is receiving additional funding from the Kone Foundation to support researchers fleeing the war in Ukraine. The grant allows for a total of 36 months of research time at the Collegium. The Kone Foundation has granted additional resources for fellowships targeted at scholars who have escaped the war and cannot continue to work in their home country.

The additional funding will be distributed through the Collegium’s Kone Foundation Fellowship programme, which supports researchers from the Baltic countries, Russia, Belarus and Ukraine.

The University of Helsinki is also opening all its courses (subject to a dean’s approval based on the student having a suitable background and language skills) to students who have studied in Ukraine and foresees that some students may be able to later also apply for degree student status via the BSc and MSc admission paths.

“This scheme has the advantage that if a student is later admitted as a regular student, he or she could then include the courses taken initially via the special scheme in the final degree, which could minimise the time lost in the transition,” University of Helsinki Vice Rector Kai Nordlund told University World News.

“Alternatively, students one day returning to Ukraine could likely transfer the credits to their home university there.”

Aalto alumni to ‘crowdsource ideas’

“Aalto University alumni network is deeply disturbed by the horrors Ukrainian people are facing. We are 100,000 resourceful and capable individuals around the world, and we need to put our best foot forward to help,” the network said.

“We would like to crowdsource ideas – small or big – what each and every one of us could do: make a donation, provide workspace or accommodation to people in need, contribute to white hat hacker efforts [ethical hacking to help address data security weaknesses], supplies, or something else. Your idea and effort could be rapidly amplified when fellow alumni join!” the alumni network pledged.

Kaj Hagros, chairman of the board of the Aalto University Alumni Network, is pleased with the abundance of initiatives. He said: “It is heartening to see alumni posting help initiatives on the discussion thread the alumni board created. We hope that many more have joined the suggested charities and other ways to help.

“Following this post, we also received direct feedback and additional suggestions, for instance from the Ukrainian Association in Finland who called for help in arranging transportation for refugees and creating employment opportunities in Finland.”

Konstantin Kouzmitchev, president of the National Union of University Students in Finland (SYL), with 140,000 student members at 17 universities, told University World News: “The Finnish higher education institutions must take responsibility for students and members of the international scientific community in the midst of a crisis. Civilization and human rights must be defended even in difficult situations.”

He said SYL is demanding that Finland takes “swift and comprehensive action” to help students fleeing the war in Ukraine.

“We encourage the development and consolidation of a national Students at Risk scholarship scheme to help students fleeing violence and persecution. In the long run, the system should be extended to other students around the world fleeing persecution,” he said.