The association of Dutch universities, UNL, has issued a statement expressing their support for all affected by the Russian invasion of Ukraine.
‘What is happening there is terrible, and we are very worried about the effect this will have on Ukrainian universities and the academic community. We stand with the students and staff in Ukraine, and we embrace the academic communities in Russia that have raised their voice against the invasion and who valiantly continue to endeavour for peace, dialogue and open collaboration.’
‘Unlike German universities, we are choosing not to boycott scientific institutes in Russia,’ says rector Arthur Mol. ‘A large number of institutes in Russia have distanced themselves from the Russian invasion. It is with these people we wish to maintain our scientific contacts.’ Mol is dismayed about the invasion. ‘Normally, we do not take an explicit stance on political issues, but this impacts the sense of freedom and the basic idea of Europe.’
WUR has projects both in Russia and Ukraine. The board will consider the best approach per project. Mol: ‘We are currently inventorying. Collaboration with Russia has become less intensive in recent years as it had become increasingly difficult.’
Projects in Ukraine are currently on hold due to the war. Mol’s former chair group, the Environmental Policy group, for example, organised an annual field trip to Ukraine. ‘Our students would conduct projects with Ukrainian students, really nice. I joined a few times. Ukraine is really a part of Europe.’
WUR organises an informal drop-in at lunchtime on Thursday 3 March in Atlas. Staff and students can share their concerns and voice their support for the Ukrainians. The executive board will not launch any aid programmes, Mol says. ‘Other organisations are better equipped for this task. We will investigate whether Ukrainian and Russian WUR students and staff require specific support.’