Credit: Athina Bohner

The University updates students on their response to the situation in Ukraine

By Luke Chafer, Kimberley Mannion and Athina Bohner

The Principal outlines the measure taken by the University but for some, it has not gone far enough.

The University of Glasgow’s response to the ongoing situation in Ukraine continued this week with a statement from Principal Anton Muacatelli on 9 March which referred to the Russian invasion of Ukraine as “unlawful and deplorable”. 

In response to a pro-war statement published by the Russian Union of Rectors, Muscatelli announced that the University has decided to suspend partnerships with Russian and Belarusian academic institutions, in addition to stopping any engagement with partners from the two countries. Moreover, he added that the university is in touch with the Council for At-Risk Academics (Cara) regarding ways to support Ukrainian students and stated that the University will “continue to make representations to the UK Government to support Ukrainian refugees”. 

He also expressed that he feels “deeply saddened” by personal social media attacks against Russian students and calls on people to report any harassment witnessed or experienced here. He concludes the message by declaring: “We are one Glasgow team. [… ] Now, more than ever, we must live by our values and show our deepest respect to all in our community and beyond with links to Ukraine and Russia who oppose the actions of the Government of the Russian Federation.”

This followed an email sent out to all students on 8 March from Rachel Sandison, the University’s Refugee & Asylum Seeker Champion, informing students and staff of the opportunity to donate towards humanitarian aid in Ukraine this week. The full list of suggested donations – including medical supplies and non-perishable foods can be found here. Organised by the Association of Ukrainians in Great Britain, donations are being collected at the Queen Margaret Union (QMU) from Monday 7 March until Friday 11 March, 08:00-10:00 daily. Additionally, she claims that the university is providing financial assistance to students requiring immediate support through student hardship funds and reveals that a new fundraising appeal will be launched shortly.

Among the principal measures taken by the University outlined in previous communications has been to ensure that students studying in Russia and Ukraine have been able to return to Glasgow. This is alongside financial support for those affected. The University has made joint statements with  The Guild of Research-Intensive Universities and CIVIS, our European University Alliance. Muscatteli also asserted that “we also continue to engage across the UK higher education sector, and with the Scottish Government, to explore collaborative action.”

The initial communication on the conflict was sent out on February 24 where the Principal stated: “We appreciate this is a difficult and anxious time for many in our community, especially for our students and colleagues concerned about family and friends in Ukraine. Please know that the thoughts of the University community are with all those affected and a wide range of UofG services, support and counselling is available to students and colleagues” the statement continued. 

Despite the action, the University has received criticism from the Glasgow University Arms Divestment for the University’s continual investment in the arms trade.  The companies which the University of Glasgow invests in have seen their stock prices increase since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. In the first week of the conflict, BAE Systems plc’s stock grew by approximately 20.20%, Lockheed Martin‘s by approximately 8.82%, Raytheon Technology Corp‘s by approximately 3.38%.

An investigation by The Glasgow Guardian in June 2019 found that the University of Glasgow invested £3,110,663 in 27 companies involved in the arms trade, £385,451 of which was in BAE Systems who are profiting from the war in Ukraine. BAE Systems is also a partner in a £4.49m research project into aerospace, defence and marine with the University of Glasgow, along with several other Scottish universities, of which Heriot–Watt is the lead, and other companies involved in the Arms trade such as Leonardo. 


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