Swiss universities show solidarity with Ukraine

Swiss universities and students have shown solidarity towards Ukraine © Keystone / Gian Ehrenzeller

The Swiss university and research community says it will do all it can to help academics and students fleeing conflict-torn Ukraine. Institutions have also offered support to Ukrainian researchers already in Switzerland.

This content was published on March 2, 2022 - 10:46

On Tuesday the Swiss National Science Foundation (SNSF) released a statementExternal link strongly condemning Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

“The aggression against Ukraine is also an attack on freedom, democracy and self-determination, on which scientific independence and opportunities for scientific cooperation are based,” the SNSF said.

Ukraine is a democratic and highly respected member of the European research community, and there has been numerous fruitful collaborations between researchers in Switzerland and Ukraine, it added.

“The present situation is simply intolerable and we will do whatever is possible to help our colleagues in Ukraine,” said SNSF president Matthias Egger in the statement. The SNSF is currently exploring ways of supporting Ukrainian researchers at home and abroad, including specific measures in support of SNSF-funded Ukrainian nationals.

The comments echo those of swissuniversities, the sector’s umbrella body, which said that Swiss universities would do “everything in their power to host teachers, researchers and students from Ukrainian universities,” in a statementExternal link on Sunday.

Both the SNSF and swissuniversities called for international/European support to ensure the safety of Ukrainian researchers.

Support in Switzerland

Several Swiss universities have released their own statements on the situation in the past days – among them the University of Zurich, which also said it would help and support Ukrainian students and academics.

“Likewise, UZH offers to help its Russian researchers, who find themselves in this situation through no fault of their own,” said the university in an online message entitled Solidarity with UkraineExternal link.

An emergency financial fund has already been put in place for Ukrainian students, as well as psychological counselling.

Currently there are 53 Ukrainian students and 131 Russian students at the university, a UZH spokeswoman told SWI

There were 900 Russian students and 300 students of Ukraine nationality enrolled in Switzerland’s ten universities and two federal institutes of technology in 2020/21, according to the latest statistics.

Student solidarity

For its part, the Swiss Student Union saidExternal link that it stood with Ukrainian students and the Ukrainian Association of Students in this difficult time and appealed to the Swiss government directly to support Ukrainian students seeking refuge in Switzerland.

Co-president Elischa Link said that Russia’s invasion of Ukraine was a topic very much on students’ minds in Switzerland. “Even in many lectures, the lecturers address it and express their solidarity with Ukraine. For many, it is still unimaginable that it could have come to this,” he told SWI via email.

The union is in close exchange with the Ukrainian Association of Students (UAS). “At this very time, the whole global student movement shows great solidarity with its fellow students in Ukraine,” Link said.

Global movement

The wider global academic community has also mobilisedExternal link. issuing statements and offering support. Some, including SNSF and Swiss universities like UZH, the University of GenevaExternal link and the federal technology institute ETH ZurichExternal link, are supporters of Scholars at Risk (SAR). This is a global organisation of almost 500 universities committed to helping and funding scientists and researchers who are in danger in their own countries.

Support is also coming via the #ScienceForUkraineExternal link banner. This websiteExternal link offers information about practical support provided by the international research community, including in Switzerland.

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In compliance with the JTI standards

More: SWI certified by the Journalism Trust Initiative

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