Volodymyr Zelenskyy addressed Ukrainian students of several UK universities on zoom and took questions from the GU Ukrainian Society.
The leader of the war torn Ukraine took time last Friday to answer students’ questions from universities throughout the UK. The event was hosted by the GU Ukrainian Society in collaboration with 10 other Ukrainian student societies. Other participants included the Oxford Union and Cambridge, however Glasgow was the only Scottish participant .
In his opening remarks he noted the impact students abroad have, talking about the response of students in Edinburgh who have criticised a lecturer, Tim Hayward. Zelenskyy remarked that this professor was “repeating the Russian narrative.”
He quoted LSE’s founder Bernard Shaw, who he said Putin “likely has never read”, as a metaphor for the Russian army noting, “They can fly like birds and swim like fish but the only thing missing is to learn to live on this planet as humans.” He closed his remarks by thanking everyone for their support and noting the UK as a special ally of the Ukrainian people.
Each university in attendance was allowed to ask a question. Glasgow’s question was given by Ukrainian native and Glasgow student Niviena Kharlanova, who asked: “What is the approach of the Ukrainian government concerning Ukrainian universities and students that are located in the temporarily occupied areas? What will happen to the students and teaching staff? As well, how can the UK academic society and community help this educational crisis?”
Zelensky responded by comparing his response to that of Glasgow. He noted that Scotland has opened up spaces for Ukrainian students to study in Scotland free of charge. He said that students in the occupied regions have been able to come to Ukrainian held territory and study free of charge and with limited records, and those who are unable to move were provided means to study online. However he noted the difficulties with online learning and spreading word of these programmes saying, “The invaders have cut off the internet, TV, and the banking system for the people in the occupied territories.”
He noted that there was much progress to be made, saying looking for ways to provide “temporary accommodation, some subsistence support, and educational opportunities for these people”. He also noted the difficulties saying, “We want these children to go to school and these students to go to their universities under the Ukrainian government. This is a difficult task and it might be task number one.”