The Rector’s Column: Ukraine

The Rector’s Column | 30.05.2022

Dear colleagues and students,

A university’s public duties do not only include teaching and research. As a large public educational institution, we are dedicated to promoting democracy, freedom of expression, peace and international exchange. Our membership in the European University Alliance “CIVIS”, which is also committed to these European values, is a reflection of the PLUS’s identity. As the Rector of the University, I cannot and will not let recent events, in particular the Russian attack on Ukraine and its war crimes and human rights violations, go uncommented.

The PLUS has numerous close, long-standing cooperations with Russian educational and research institutions. However, in response to an open letter from the Russian Rectors’ Conference explicitly supporting the war in Ukraine, we felt compelled to suspend any form of collaboration until further notice. A letter was sent to our Russian partner institutions accordingly. It is important for me to note that these measures are directed against the unjust actions of the Russian government and the war in Ukraine, not against the Russian population or the academic community. We will gladly resume our cooperation as soon as the war is over, in areas where independent, unrestricted research committed to peace and democracy is possible.

The events in Ukraine have also prompted the Rectorate to initiate concrete structural changes at PLUS: We have decided to terminate the Russkij Mir Foundation’s financial support for the Russia Centre, to put the Centre on a broader footing and to transform it into the PLUS Eastern Europe Forum. The Forum will not be funded with Russian money and is now based in the Department of Slavonic Studies under the capable leadership of Prof. Hausbacher.

The establishment of the Eastern Europe Forum has also prompted us to reconsider the focus on individual countries in general. As a result, we have decided to expand the China Studies Center in the sense of a larger (world) region (global area) and to broaden its focus to include East Asia, Southeast Asia and the Pacific. From now on, the China Studies Center will operate as the Asia-Pacific Forum (FOR APAC) under the initially interim academic leadership of Prof. Kyoko Shinozaki (Department of Sociology and Social Geography).

Now to our Ukrainian partners and students: We are committed to providing assistance as best we can. I have recently spoken with the rector of our partner institution V. N. Karazin Kharkiv National University, which has lost a great deal of its infrastructure. The situation on the ground is dramatic and the pictures and videos have shocked us all. The PLUS will therefore do everything it can to help in this emergency situation. In order to support Ukrainian students and academics at the PLUS, the PLUS has established a Team Ukraine, which includes staff from the Department of International Relations, the Admissions Department, the Department of Slavonic Studies, the Language Centre, the ÖH Advice & Support Centre and the Research Service. In addition, the PLUS is part of the CIVIS Ukraine Task Force, which aims to support Ukrainian students and academics jointly at a European level.

In addition, a donation account “Ukraine-Hilfe der PLUS” (PSD770000_03) has been set up. All donations will be used to support the PLUS’s initiatives to promote Ukraine and support Ukrainian students and academics. The donation account details can be found below, as well as a video sent to us by our partner university in Kharkiv. It is not easy viewing, but it illustrates why our partners in Ukraine need our solidarity and support right now.

In crisis situations, we as a university must stand together. Ukrainians are risking life and limb for their country in the truest sense of the word. Let us send a clear signal of support and stand together for the freedom of teaching and research; that this valuable asset, which we take for granted, is not guaranteed – as we have seen – but must also be defended and reclaimed time and again.

Further information:

Contact PLUS Team Ukraine: Mag. Benjamin Gauss (Tel: 0662-8044-2042, )

PLUS contact person CIVIS Ukraine Task Force: Prof. Eva Hausbacher (0662-8044-4508, ) and Benjamin Gauss (0662-8044-2042, )

Ukraine donation account: IBAN: AT23 1200 0069 5383 4602, BIC: BKAUATWW, Reference: PSD770000_03 (Ukraine-Hilfe der PLUS)

 Youtube video on the current situation at the V. N. Karazin Kharkiv National University

Click here for an overview of all support services offered by the PLUS for students and academics from Ukraine.