The Ukraine Crisis: Responses from the European Higher Education and Research Sectors

On 15 June 2022, ALLEA co-organised the online conferenceThe Ukraine Crisis: Responses from the European Higher Education and Research Sectors.’ The event brought together key stakeholders in Europe to address the impact of the war in Ukraine to the country’s academic and scientific sectors.

The conference was organised jointly by ALLEA and Science for UkraineKristiania University College and the International Science Council (ISC). Invited guests included members of the higher education and research sectors, relevant government bodies, funding and donor agencies, and humanitarian organisations. The event also sought to serve as a platform for Ukrainian voices, with many Ukrainian scientists and institutions participating actively throughout the conference and in the subsequent breakout sessions.

The conference was opened with a presentation from the Ukrainian Minister of Education and Science, Serhiy Shkarlet, who outlined the current challenges and prospects facing the Ukrainian academic sector. Minister Shkarlet emphasised the importance of renovating the Ukrainian higher education system and preventing a brain-drain, which could have a long-term detrimental impact on Ukrainian science.

Minister Shkarlet’s presentation was followed by a roundtable discussion composed of Ukrainian displaced scholars who remained in the country, as well as early-career Ukrainian scientists, European and global scientific institutions, NGOs, and the international humanitarian sector. The main topics of discussion included how to best support scientists who stayed in Ukraine, and the importance of finding a balance between short- and long-term strategies. Also covered in the discussion were the immediate needs of Ukraine’s higher education sector, which include critical equipment to continue operations, and technical support to digitalise the education system and transition to an online presence with opportunities for distance learning, joint degrees and affiliations, all of which are needed to remain active through the war.

ALLEA was represented by its Vice President, Professor Luke Drury, who introduced ALLEA’s response to support Ukraine. These include the newly established European Fund for Displaced Scientists (EFDS), which recently launched its call for applications for Funding Line 1, and ALLEA’s participation in drafting a 10-point Action Plan to support the Ukrainian academic system.

The round table was followed by four breakout sessions which aimed to identify solutions and recommendations pertaining to ongoing support and rebuilding of Ukraine, including existing support initiatives, short- and long-term interventions, and lessons learned to respond to similar situations in other regions of the world.