From education to employment

OU bolsters Ukraine support package

The Open University (OU) has expanded its support for those fleeing to the UK as a result of the war in Ukraine.

In collaboration with the Ministry of Education and Science in Ukraine, we recently delivered a free webinar on online learning to 820 participants from Ukrainian higher education institutions.

As the world marks one year since the conflict began on 24 February 2022, we are announcing new initiatives including: 

Twinning with Ukrainian Universities

Working with Charles Cormack Consultancy Group on the UK-Ukraine initiative, we are twinned with the Horliv Higher Education Institution (HEI) of Foreign Languages, providing support for delivering learning online, and with the (HEI) Institute of Molecular Biology and Genetics, offering OpenSTEM laboratory training resources and online learning support, as well as collaborating on research.

Postgraduate Scholarship for Students Displaced from Belarus, Russia, and Ukraine, In Partnership with King’s College London

New scholarships, in partnership with King’s College London, are being staged for the academic year 2023-24 for students displaced and/or at risk of persecution, violence and conflict. Course fees are waived and Living Costs Bursaries* are available to students wanting to study a postgraduate degree. Applications are currently open and will close 24 March 2023.

Kings Community Sponsorship programme

This is a partnership between the OU, Kings College London and Citizens UK to best implement the government’s Homes for Ukraine visa scheme.

This scheme allows people who are fleeing Ukraine and have no family ties to the UK to obtain a visa to seek sanctuary if they can find an individual to sponsor them to stay for at least six months.

University staff sponsors are matched as hosts to Ukrainian refugees, providing accommodation and helping them settle into the community. Some OU staff have already stepped forward and are waiting to be matched.

The new measures of support join a wider package created by the OU in response to the war, including:

  • Free OpenLearn resources, available in English and Ukrainian, supporting Ukrainians now living in the UK with free language training, CV writing, and mental health and wellbeing support
  • The launch of a free Ukrainian Language and Culture course to help UK families hosting Ukrainians and those working with or caring for them
  • Free resources for Ukrainian Higher Education Institutions (HEIs) on how to deliver online education, helping to support more accessible learning for refugees
  • Sanctuary Scholarships will be offered to 12 students who will have their fees paid amounting to a combined total of £264,000. Applications close on 12 July. A student who received a Sanctuary Scholarship previously, said:
    “The scholarship provides me with an opportunity to finish my studies which were interrupted by the war. Completing a degree will open so many job opportunities for me, and simply guarantee a more stable future of living in the UK… Lots of plans and dreams are wrecked but people are not upset, many receive help, and everyone is grateful for that.”  
  • Six Fellowships for academics at risk in partnership with the Council for At-Risk Academics (CARA) two of which are already supporting Ukrainian academics.

Jhumar Johnson, Chief of Staff to the Vice-Chancellor, said:

A year on since the beginning of the conflict, many families and individuals are still hugely affected by the war. At the OU we are united in our desire to offer as much assistance as possible.

“At the forefront of our mission is our belief in the power of accessible education and the huge impact this can have on people’s lives. We hope this package, in partnership with local and national partners, cements our commitment to providing that support.”

Dr Leonie Ansems de Vries, Reader in International Politics and Director of the King’s Sanctuary Programme, King’s College London, said:

“It has been a truly rewarding experience to work in partnership with the OU, Newcastle University and the University of Leicester to develop the University Sponsorship Model as a cross-sectoral collaborative approach to resettling and supporting individuals impacted by the war in Ukraine.”

*Living Cost Bursary will vary for each student, depending on their chosen masters qualification, to help with living expenses

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