Ukrainian universities in exile fight for survival

Hundreds of miles from their former home, staff and students of Ukraine’s Donetsk National University are making do without salaries, accommodations, or proper buildings, the Kyiv Post reports.

After armed pro-Russian separatists took over the university in September and replaced the rector, staff members decided to move the school into exile in the city of Vinnytsia in central Ukraine. Led by the original rector, Roman Gryniuk, they moved into buildings of a diamond cutting factory.

Around 600 teachers and other staff have moved to Vinnytsia, along with, so far, only 100 of the 18,000 students who attended classes in Donetsk, the eastern city that has been the scene of heavy fighting for months. Gryniuk hopes the number will grow to 1,000. The new academic year began 3 November, two months late.

Six thousand students have registered and will continue their studies online. Many students can’t afford to move.

Teachers and students haven’t received salaries or stipends since June despite official promises to keep up payments to “all institutions that moved from rebel-controlled territories to those under the control of Ukraine’s authorities,” the Kyiv Post writes.

About 30 percent of students and staff stayed in Donetsk. The authorities no longer recognize academic work completed at the original university now under rebel control.

According to the Education Ministry, 11 universities have moved from the separatist-held territories to other regions of the country, SETimes reports.

Teachers who made the move to Vinnytsia are having problems finding apartments, acting history faculty dean Tetyana Nagornyak said, according to the Kyiv Post.

“People don’t want to rent apartments to those who fled Donetsk. But we are not angry with them, there is much stigma about the Donetsk people,” Nagornyak said. “But there are others who are ready to cooperate.”

 This article was originally published on Transitions Online.


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