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UK R&D sector pledges to continue support for Ukraine

Image: Catholic Church England and Wales [CC BY-NC-ND 2.0], via Flickr

On conflict’s anniversary, universities say partnerships with Ukrainian institutions “will last for years to come”

Universities and learned societies have pledged to continue their support for Ukraine, one year on from Russia’s invasion.

On the anniversary of the conflict, vice-chancellors’ group Universities UK said it was “immensely proud” of its twinning scheme with Ukrainian institutions and the “impact it has had on Ukrainian universities devastated by war”.

More than 100 partnerships have been established through the government-supported scheme, which helps UK universities partner with Ukrainian institutions to share resources.

To date, this support has included donated ambulances, help to equip bomb shelters, as well as the provision of study placements, English classes and mental health support.

“One year since the invasion, partnerships are continuing to grow stronger and have been a beacon of light for many Ukrainian students and staff,” Jamie Arrowsmith, director of the international arm of UUK, told Research Professional News.

UUK set up the scheme in partnership with Cormack Consultancy Group and it received a funding boost of £5 million from Research England in November 2022.

Arrowsmith said the extra funding would contribute towards the establishment of new national research centres, as well as helping to rebuild those destroyed during the war.

“The strong bonds that have grown between institutions give us hope that these partnerships will last for years to come, and that with continued investment and support, Ukraine can, and will, emerge stronger from the war,” he added.

Support from learned societies

Learned societies have also pledged to continue their support for Ukrainian academics.

Last year, the British Academy helped to set up a £13.3m government-backed fellowship programme for those fleeing the war, in partnership with the Council for At-Risk Academics.

The scheme gives Ukrainian academics and their dependants support to continue their research in the UK for up to two years. The funding covers their salary, research expenses and living costs.

The academy said it was “extremely proud” to have helped support more than 140 researchers and 190 dependants through the scheme so far with placements across 40 universities.

“The breadth of research expertise across the cohort is incredibly rich and we are pleased to play a part in ensuring the prosperity and continuation of Ukrainian research,” said Hetan Shah, the British Academy’s chief executive.

Meanwhile, the Royal Society of Chemistry said it would “continue to reach out to members of our community in Ukraine” and would continue to make available support through its Chemists’ Community Fund, which offers financial support to struggling members.

In addition, the society confirmed that it would continue to pause its engagement with institutes in Russia, for example, preventing access to RSC journal content and books, and stopping all sales and marketing activities.

More widely, the UK government has suspended publicly funded research and innovation collaborations with Russian universities and companies that are of strategic benefit to the Russian state.