The humanitarian tragedy unfolding in Ukraine has of late galvanised our community. The University has set up a task force to determine necessary actions related to Ukraine. Its first duty was to identify students and staff in the region, and ensure arrangements were in place for their safe return.

Senior colleagues have been liaising with the Russell Group and with Universities UK (UUK) to determine the best ways to provide support for those who have left, want to leave or require academic support whilst they remain in Ukraine. At a UUK-hosted meeting last week, Ukrainian university representatives specified some of their most urgent needs. Among them are the provision of online material for Ukrainian students (both at school and university level), help with supervisions (especially for final-year PhDs), access to libraries and digital publications, and help with the preservation of rare books and valuable collections. Both our University Library and Cambridge University Press and Assessment are identifying specific ways in which they can assist in partnership with their national professional bodies. Cambridge University Press and Assessment has already made the majority of its academic journal content free to institutions registered in Ukraine.

Meanwhile, colleagues across the collegiate University have also been working closely with the Council for At-Risk Academics (CARA) to determine what types of support the University and Colleges may be able to offer in the medium and long-term.

More immediately, the University has registered its interest in joining the government’s recently announced “Homes for Ukraine” scheme as a potential sponsor. Though details of the emergency immigration scheme have yet to be finalised, we are in the process of establishing what the collegiate University’s own capacities are. We expect to be prepared to provide support for people arriving from Ukraine when the scheme’s details are confirmed and published. To do so, the University and Colleges are developing a process that will enable us to host in Cambridge displaced doctoral students and academic staff, including postdoctoral researchers, for an agreed period of time.

As would be expected, the relevant University committee has been reviewing gifts and donations for any funding or institutional research links related to the Russian Federation (a process that has been in place since the 2014 annexation of Crimea). Our Development and Alumni team is actively monitoring sanctions lists, and all philanthropic relations with individuals connected to the Russian Federation will undergo enhanced due diligence. All such relationships are currently on pause.

The University of Cambridge has received no research funding from institutions within the Russian Federation, or from individuals currently facing sanctions, for the past few years. Some Cambridge researchers do have academic collaborations with a small number of fellow researchers in Russia, and these are being kept under review. The Cambridge University Endowment Fund has no direct investments in Russia, and only negligible indirect exposure through pooled investments.

Some of our experts’ views on the war can be found here. I will keep you updated on the University’s efforts to provide essential help at this moment of desperate need for the people of Ukraine.

Stephen J Toope

23 March 2022

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