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Western University unveils $600K in financial support for students impacted by Ukraine crisis

Students walk across campus at Western University in London, Ont., Saturday, Sept. 19, 2020.  Most Canadian universities, including Western are keeping in effect their COVID-19 vaccine and mask requirements for students attending in-person classes after several provinces announced recently plans to end many of the pandemic restrictions. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Geoff Robins. GAC

With the Russian invasion of Ukraine causing many to be displaced, Western University has announced $600,000 in new funding for globally-displaced students impacted by the war.

This comes after calls from the London Ukrainian community to help provide relief to international students from Ukraine, Russia and Belarus who have been cut off from financial supports at home.

“Our goal is to create new pathways to Western for those looking to pursue education and scholarship in the safety of our campus community, and to enhance support for current international students from countries in crisis,” said Western president Alan Shepard.

Read more: London Ont., group seeking support for international students affected by war in Ukraine

School officials say the financial support will be made available to both current and new international undergraduate and graduate students in need of assistance whose home countries have been devastated by wars and other disasters.

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Earlier this month, the London Ukrainian Humanitarian Action (LUHA) working group, which is run by community volunteers, set up a fundraising campaign to help Ukrainian students whose families have been displaced or lost their income because of the war.

Marat Slessarev, LUHA chair, told Global News at the time that they were advocating for relief for students from both Fanshawe College and Western with more than 30 students being impacted.

“Most of international students have their tuition, housing and meals covered and paid for up until the end of April when their term ends in school, but starting in May many have no financial means for covering their housing, meals and of course tuition,” Slessarev said at the time.

Western is currently supporting a number of international students from Ukraine, Russia and Belarus, who are facing disruption and uncertainty due to Russia’s war on Ukraine.

In addition to the $600,000, Western is creating several new six- to 12-month research opportunities for visiting undergraduate or graduate students displaced by global crises.

Working in partnership with the international Scholars At Risk network, Western will also provide support for three new displaced scholars to come to Western, which is on top of the support for Afghan scholars Western announced last year.

Read more: Western University study shows workplace harassment and violence still a major issue

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The Ivey Business School also plans to welcome 10 Ukrainian students through the new Ivey MBA Ukraine Students Academic Shelter Program, offering displaced graduate students from Ukraine free tuition, housing and learning materials, including a monthly stipend, to attend Ivey on an exchange basis.

The program will be open to students enrolled in a masters-level program in business, finance, marketing, technology or economics at Lviv Business School and the National University of Kyiv-Mohyla Academy.

“It’s great that Ivey was able to summon the resources and fund this program. It’s an example that everyone, like all the universities, should follow this example,” said Sergii Nevmerzhygskyi, a PhD student at the Ivey School of Business.

Nevmerzhygskyi has been studying in Canada since 2016 and lives here with his family, but said it’s hard with his and his wife’s parents and their other family members still living in Ukraine.

While he is not in need of financial support, Nevmerzhygskyi said it will be helpful to younger students who rely on support from their parents back home.

Nevmerzhygskyi said the war is taking a toll on him mentally as he tries to finish up his studies.

“It’s it sucks out a lot of like mental and physical energy, honestly. I am at a stage of my problem where I have to complete my dissertation and submit it, but the news is affecting the process, unfortunately,” he said.

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“I usually go to bed late because of the missile attacks (from) Russia, usually they’re doing that at night, it gets quieter in the morning. So usually I check the news whether there are any serious damages from those missile attacks during the night.”

He said their family are refugees in their own country, having moved around to different cities and villages to avoid the bombings.

If all 10 spots are filled, the school estimates the total investment from Ivey to be more than $1 million.

“This new commitment builds on existing programs and supports Western already has in place and provides additional funding to support both our current students and displaced students and scholars,” said Lise Laporte, senior director of Western International.

Click to play video: 'Queen’s students organize rally to support Ukraine'
Queen’s students organize rally to support Ukraine

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