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European researcher group seeks EU funds for Ukrainian academia


Research and education should be treated “equally” to other areas in planned EU investment

A group representing European early career researchers has called for the EU to provide dedicated funding for Ukrainian research and higher education.

The European Council of Doctoral Candidates and Junior Researchers (Eurodoc) said on 20 July that the Russian invasion had “massively impacted” Ukrainian academic institutions, and that research and higher education would have a role to play in the country’s recovery.

It said that, of the €53 billion pledged to Ukraine by the EU so far, none had been allocated to higher education, and stressed that research and higher education needed “equal” support to that given to other areas of activity.

In June, the European Commission proposed setting up a dedicated fund to support the Ukrainian recovery, worth up to €50bn over 2024-27. It said objectives should include repairing, rebuilding and improving “social infrastructure such as housing, healthcare facilities, schools and higher education institutions, and research infrastructure”.

But while Eurodoc commended the proposal, which is being considered by MEPs and EU governments, it said the move did not go far enough. “For Ukraine to recover as a knowledge economy, its academia must receive the necessary support to retain the current generation of Ukrainian early career researchers,” it said.

Hannah Schoch, secretary of Eurodoc, told Research Professional News that the group put out its statement partly because the proposal is yet to be adopted, and partly because “there are also no specifics just yet on exact funding allocation. It is thus imperative to ensure that the proposal is not only accepted, but then also implemented in a meaningful way.”

“This is particularly crucial for the current generation of Ukrainian early career researchers who are not just shaping the higher education and research sector now, but will importantly do so for the decades to come as senior academic staff,” she added.

The call came as Eurodoc’s president, Sebastian Dahle, and vice-president, Pil Maria Saugmann, visited Ukraine on the invitation of Ukraine’s Council of Young Scientists, where they were also due to meet representatives of the Ministry of Education and Science, the National Research Foundation and the National Academy of Science, among other organisations.

Saugmann said: “I see it as one of our core responsibilities to emphasise the role that research and higher education play for democracy and society—and, for Ukraine, this is particularly acute right now.”

Dahle added: “This is particularly important since, in the currently planned international support and recovery schemes for Ukraine, the higher education sector has not received much attention.”