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Tel Aviv University offers full scholarships to Ukrainian students, academics

TAU says that as an institution that raises ‘the banner of academic freedom,’ it must offer assistance to ‘our Ukrainian colleagues’

Tobias (Toby) Siegal is a breaking news editor and contributor to The Times of Israel.

Firefighters work to contain a fire at the Economy Department building of Karazin Kharkiv National University, allegedly hit during recent shelling by Russia, on March 2, 2022. (Sergey BOBOK / AFP)
Firefighters work to contain a fire at the Economy Department building of Karazin Kharkiv National University, allegedly hit during recent shelling by Russia, on March 2, 2022. (Sergey BOBOK / AFP)

Tel Aviv University is offering dozens of scholarships to Ukrainian academics whose studies and research have been compromised due to the Russian invasion of Ukraine that has so far displaced over 1 million people.

The university announced the plan, totaling about NIS 1 million, on Thursday, as the conflict in Ukraine entered its eighth day with no end in sight.

The initiative invites Ukrainian students and researchers to spend the coming semester in Israel and continue their academic work at Israel’s largest university.

The scholarships offered by TAU include tuition as well as living expenses in Israel.

“TAU will soon contact the embassies in both Israel and Ukraine, as well as their academic colleagues, to facilitate the researchers’ arrival in Israel within the next few days,” read a statement issued by the university.

The academic institution referred to the Russian invasion of Ukraine as a “red flag requiring all of us to make an all-out effort to help the Ukrainian people, many of whom have become homeless refugees overnight.”

Deserted suitcase and a baby cart are left beside the road as Ukrainian refugees flee Russian invasion at a border crossing in Medyka, Poland, March 2, 2022. (AP Photo/Visar Kryeziu)

The university noted that as an institution that raises “the banner of academic freedom,” it is its responsibility to provide “our Ukrainian colleagues with immediate assistance.”

The UN refugee agency said late Wednesday that more than 1 million people have fled Ukraine since Russia invaded the country on February 24, the swiftest refugee exodus seen this century. The agency predicted that up to 4 million people could eventually leave Ukraine.

“The steps we are taking are admittedly modest,” said TAU President Prof. Ariel Porat. “However, we hope that other academic institutions, both in Israel and worldwide, will follow our example, and lend a helping hand to the Ukrainian people in this dire situation.”

Official Israeli efforts to facilitate the arrival of Ukrainian refugees to Israel have mostly focused on Ukrainian Jews. The Jewish Agency said last week that it has received thousands of inquiries from Ukrainian citizens about immigrating to Israel.

A group of Ukrainians travel to Poland before immigrating to Israel, on February 26, 2022. (Jewish Agency)

Israel’s official stance on the conflict has been a delicate maneuver between providing humanitarian aid and quietly condemning Russia, attempting to balance between its warm relations with Kyiv and sensitive ties with Moscow, primarily due to Russian activity in Syria and the need to coordinate Israeli operations in the region with the Kremlin.

On Tuesday, Prime Minister Naftali Bennett said that Israel has “sent three planes full of humanitarian aid, mostly medicines, and we will send more, as needed. We are also preparing to provide humanitarian assistance on the ground and, of course, to facilitate the immigration of Jews, from all relevant places.”

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