10 years too long: A call to action for higher education resilience in the face of the Ukrainian crisis

10 years too long: a call to action for higher education resilience in the face of the Ukrainian crisis

Over a decade has elapsed since the start of the Russian aggression against Ukraine, a period marked by profound human suffering and significant setbacks in various sectors, including higher education. The conflict, which began on February 20, 2014, has not only claimed half a million lives but has also led to a staggering number of refugees, peaking at 10 million, and displaced over 44 higher education institutions (HEIs), uprooting professors, students, and the very foundation of Ukraine’s academic future.

In 2014 alone, the war resulted in more than 4,000 deaths, nearly 10,000 injuries, and forced 800,000 people into refugee status, with 1.6 million internally displaced by 2016. The academic community has been particularly hit hard, with 18 universities displaced initially, a number that more than doubled following the full-scale invasion. This displacement not only scatters academic communities but also erodes the intellectual capital and infrastructure critical for the nation’s recovery and development.

The statistics are not just numbers; they represent lives, dreams, and futures interrupted. The escalation from a million refugees in 2014 to 10 million underscores the scale of human displacement and suffering. Moreover, the academic displacement – from 18 to 44 HEIs – highlights the war’s devastating impact on Ukraine’s educational landscape and its future generations.

As we mark this sorrowful anniversary, let us renew our dedication to the principles of academic freedom, inclusivity, and resilience. The Ukrainian crisis underscores the critical role of education in fostering peace, understanding, and recovery. By supporting displaced scholars and students, we not only aid in the immediate recovery efforts but also invest in the long-term resilience of societies facing the scourge of conflict.

On this day and in the times to come, let us not forget what is happening in Ukraine. And let us not get tired and continue our support for the Ukrainian academic community and refugees!

Together, we can overcome the challenges posed by conflict and displacement, forging a path toward a more inclusive and resilient academic future for all!