A few months after Russia attacked Ukraine, higher education institutions in Sweden have launched a range of measures to support the country’s researchers and university teachers. The Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences, KVA, has announced a scholarship scheme under which anyone who is a Ukrainian citizen can apply for funding to conduct research in Sweden.
“Many universities and colleges had already set up different initiatives, not least on a researcher-to-researcher level through personal contacts. This joint statement is an expression of will from all higher education institutions and the Academy of Sciences,” says Hans Ellegren, Permanent Secretary at KVA.
The scholarships provide a maximum of SEK 20,000 per month and are intended for research conducted at a Swedish higher education institution, or alternatively that researchers from Ukraine are offered a place at one of KVA’s research institutes.
“In this acute situation, it’s our attempt to give researchers a chance to continue their work so that it does not cease completely,” says Ellegren. “If it then has long-term effects, that’s part of normal internationalisation and mobility for researchers.”
Wants to stay in Odessa
Oksana Dovgopolova, a professor of philosophy at Odessa National University, has been contacted by several European universities, she tells Universitetsläraren, including Lund University. “I lectured in Lund a few years ago, and it’s one of many institutions that have been in touch with an invitation to come there. But I’ve decided to stay here in Odessa for the time being.”
The University of Odessa’s activities were marked by confusion in the first two weeks after the outbreak of the war, she says. But now, people are working as usual, even though everything is done remotely.
“Here in Odessa, things haven’t yet been as difficult as in other parts of the country. I know that they’ve been working in Kiev as well, but it’s been more difficult to keep things going there,” says Dovgopolova.
A lot of applications
Hans Ellegren describes the number of applications for KVA’s scholarships as high. So far, more than 50 have been received. As yet, no ceiling has been set for the number of scholarships, so the programme can be expanded gradually. KVA has also been in dialogue with Sweden’s higher education institutions about their capacity to offer research places, he says.
Another funding organisation that has announced initiatives to help Ukraine’s researchers is the Swedish Foundation for Strategic Research, SSF, which has earmarked SEK 30 million. These grants will go to researchers focusing on technology, medicine and natural sciences, who will be employed temporarily at a Swedish higher education institution.
Intended for temporary employment
The Knowledge Foundation, which numbers 22 of Sweden’s higher education institutions in its target group, has also announced a special fund of SEK 50 million aimed at researchers in or fleeing from Ukraine.
The various Wallenberg foundations have also announced that funds totalling SEK 50 million will be set aside for Swedish higher education institutions to be able to offer temporary employment of researchers with links to Ukraine.
At international level, the European Commission has launched a web-based platform to bring together member states’ various support initiatives for Ukraine’s higher education and research community. Additionally, volunteer researchers and students from institutions in both Europe and other parts of the world are behind #ScienceForUkraine, which was set up with the aim of gathering and providing information about various support initiatives for Ukrainian doctoral candidates and researchers. At the time of writing, it expects to be able to help more than 3,000 researchers and students who have fled the war.
When Universitetsläraren speaks to Oksana Dovgopolova, the situation is just beginning to intensify in Odessa as well, but she does not live in the immediate vicinity of the targets at which Russia has so far aimed its missiles, she says.
“Right now, we need strong support from all sides, not just military support. Once the war is over, which we all hope will be soon, other countries need to open Ukrainian study centres so that Ukrainian academia is protected and promoted,” she says.